(thanks for your continued patience during our do-over of the Kissed by the Creator site)
I am in the middle of teaching a 12 week series on Connecting with the Creator through his creations. This week as I was preparing my discussion on The Wilderness Speaks, I became keenly aware of the words that describe physical wilderness. Words like: desolate, barren, lonely, deserted, dangerous, wasteland and void. Words that at certain times in my life, described my journey through a spiritual wilderness.
In preparing and reading about the impact of Wilderness(physical) in the lives of people throughout Biblical history, it struck a chord that the physical wilderness journey taught similar lessons that would be valuable during sojourns of spiritual wilderness.
The story of Moses in the Old Testament, leading the Israelites through the desert is fraught with tales of their give and take relationship with God. The consequences of their disobedience, repentance and reconnecting with God read like a travel log. Their time in the wilderness was a time of trial and testing. God met their every need in the wilderness from raining down manna to rocks springing forth with water. It was also during the time in the wilderness that God issued his Commandments, guiding their moral lives. Basically the only way to have needs met is to be in a position of need. The Israelites would not have been able to fully appreciate the promise land without first experiencing the desert.
I pondered a recent descent into a spiritual wilderness or valley, where I wasn’t seeing a burning bush or getting messages carved in stone, let alone hearing His still small voice. During that wilderness experience I was both disobedient and repentant and though it didn’t seem like it at the time, my needs were met. There is no way I could fully appreciate the blessings that came from that valley if I hadn’t walked the barren ground.
Another poignant trip to the wilderness recorded in the Bible is that of Jesus where he fasted for 40 days then successfully endured and withstood the temptations of Satan. Matthew 4:2-3 says “And after He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights He then became hungry. And the tempter came to him and said, “IF you are the Son of God, command these stones become bread.”
Temptations happen in the wilderness. They seem to come when we are at our weakest. Satan waited until Christ was hungry to tempt him and he tempted him with what HE was thinking about – food. How often do our temptations come about what is filling our thoughts?
The danger of this temptation wasn’t asking Jesus to miraculously make bread because Jesus did go on to create bread for the multitudes. The danger of this temptation was that Satan’ proposed this to question Christ’s authority and identity.
Spiritual wilderness can often challenge our identity in Christ because after all we are not “feeling” it right? Satan will use our time in the Wilderness to test “whose” we are and what we are made of.
If our call is to be “Christlike” then it goes without saying that we will not only find ourselves in the wilderness, but we will find ourselves tested and tempted during those times.
Jesus faced off Satan by quoting scripture. He used a passage from Deuteronomy 8 to refute the first temptation.
“It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word
that proceeds from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)
Jesus’ response to Satan was an indicator of what he really relied on. He relied on God, his Father not a temporary fix – food or bread. We can’t ever underestimate the value of relying on God even when we aren’t “feeling” it.
Satan continued to tempt Jesus during his stay in the wilderness but what happened at the end is the good part. “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11)
In both accounts, the wilderness was a place of transformation. Change happened. The Israelites were free and received their promised land and Jesus was launched into his ministry.
So while in the midst of the Wilderness it doesn’t seem like God is moving, the results are often seen when we emerge – changed, transformed and ready for…
Point to Ponder:
Have you been sojourning in the wilderness or perhaps just returned, what did you learn?