Wilderness Living | Bishop Wallace-Padgett

Wilderness Living | Bishop Wallace-Padgett

Dear Friends,
Have you ever traveled into a wilderness area? I have done so on several occasions when backpacking in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. The scenery was breathtaking - figuratively and literally. 

Jesus’ wilderness experience described in the Synoptic Gospels was very different than this. It was not a fun backpacking excursion taken as a vacation to see beautiful landscape. Rather, according to Matthew and Mark, immediately after Jesus’ baptism God led him into the Judean Desert for forty days of prayer, fasting and confronting wilderness temptations and questions.

The Christian season of Lent connects with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. Indeed, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13 and Mark 1:12-13 are often read during the early part of Lent. 
We are at the beginning of this year’s Lenten season which starts on Ash Wednesday (March 2, 2022) and concludes on Holy Saturday (April 16, 2022). When I compare this to the backpacking trips I took in the Snowmass Wilderness years ago, we are climbing the first mountain with several passes, peaks and valleys ahead before arriving at Easter Day. 
In moving through the Lenten season, we have the opportunity to pray, fast and wrestle with wilderness temptations and questions. As we do so, we grow and mature in character, take next steps in our calling and deepen our walk with God. 

Here are two questions I invite you to join me in considering as we enter the Lenten season.
  1. What is a wilderness question you are currently facing?
  2. What step(s) can you take that will strengthen you as a disciple during this journey in the wilderness of Lent? 

I pray that as we travel through the wilderness of Lent 2022, we:
  • determine to fast, pray and go deep into our spiritual wilderness;
  • commit ourselves to face the darkness, fears and pain that accompany wilderness living;
  • and embrace these days of Lent 2022 with confidence that we will come out on the other side more spiritually grounded than we were when we entered. 
Wilderness living is part of the Christian journey. As we travel the Lenten wilderness, we will grow stronger for the next phase of our walk with God!

As always, it is a joy to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
Holston and North Alabama Conferences


Debra Wallace-Padgett

The Reverend Dr. Debra Wallace-Padgett was elected a Bishop of the United Methodist Church at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. At the time of her election, she was the lead pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, ...