THE WILDERNESS IS A PHYSICAL PLACE WITH A DIVINE PURPOSE
We often think of wilderness or desert as a barren desolate place, a place that cannot sustain life. However, this is a great misconception. The translation of the word used in the original text is eremos, solitary, uninhabited, uncultivated region fit for pasture. A place where we are spurred forward, a passing through place just as the Israelites passed through wilderness to the promised land.
Then Jesus, full of the Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the Wilderness for 40 days, being tempted by the devil…. Luke 4:1
Have you ever wondered why immediately after Jesus was baptized and heard the words “this is my Son whom I love: with Him I am well pleased?” I know I have!! There is a sense of mystery to Jesus being lead there, yet there are so many valuable things we can learn about the whole wilderness experience, how it molds and shapes us, tries and tests us, and yes even learn to embrace the season when the Spirit leads us to our own personal wilderness too. I am going to touch on just a few.
Many times, I strongly resisted my own journeys to the wilderness. In fact, in the early years, I imagine there were deep trench-like drag marks leading all the way to the wilderness I was about to enter. Resistance was futile and the things I learned truly transformed me and my relationship with God. I love the quote by Paul George: “getting people to the wilderness for a transcendent experience empowers people for years if not the whole life. “
It is absolutely true and Jesus models that for us in the example He lived out. Just as he was baptized in order to enter into solidarity with us sinners, He then obediently allowed himself to be led into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy of our souls, the devil. Jesus experienced all the threats and temptations of our human existence and showed us how to overcome. At the end of His time there, scripture tells us the angels came and attended or ministered to Him.
We often think of wilderness or desert and a barren desolate place, a place that can not sustain life however this is a great misconception. The translation of the word used in the original text is eremos, solitary, uninhabited, uncultivated region fit for pasture. A place where we are spurred forward, a passing through place just as the Israelites passed through the waters, through wilderness to the promised land. Moving forward from something to something. It is a place with a divine purpose…that seems pretty encouraging, don’t you think?
Going through the wilderness is not all negative!! It is a place where we are called out and set apart from this world. Upon entry, we are often blind to how much of the world we are carrying on us, in us, and with us in our thoughts and how we live out our lives as God’s people. The wilderness offers us an escape for the noise, clutter, and distractions that keep us from God’s best for us. It creates space for us to hear God’s voice and find true joy that is “not under the sun” but found only in the eternal heavenly realms.
The wilderness also prepares us through our personal trials and testing to make us ready for the life Jesus died to give us. Romans 5:3 tells us that our trials and suffering have a greater purpose…to build godly character and prepare us for eternal life
3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
It is here, in the quiet, where we learn to hear His still small voice, to develop a deeper more intimate relationship with the Lover of our souls, where we learn to cultivate the spiritual character we need to be part of His eternal family.
The wilderness teaches us of surrender. To come to the place where we realize we can not use our own intellect, skill, or strength to fix it, control it, or change it. Deuteronomy 8 speaks clearly to this but especially ... 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
It is here in the wilderness we come to learn to totally, completely rely on God for every aspect of our lives. God allows us to “hunger” either physically or metaphorically… to long for something more than this world can offer and discover that it can only be found in Him, our Comforter. God longs to lead us through the wilderness of this life into His eternal Kingdom.
Let me just encourage you dear brothers and sisters that just as Jesus went out into the wilderness, so too should we. I know from personal experience that my greatest Fresh Encounters with God have been in the wilderness and they have forever changed me. Yes, I wish there was another way sometimes however, my Beloved knows me so well and knows the wilderness times are the only way to break through my competent, self-sufficient ways of being. I can honestly say that I now enter those wilderness seasons with much more anticipation as I know He is there with me and has an amazing treasure for me to discover about Him and His love for me.
Be encouraged that the temptations we encounter don’t need to make us weaker but like Jesus can make us stronger. The wilderness is not a barren, dark, desolate place to hide from the things that frighten us and hope to find God there but rather a place of reconciliation and healing where He is already waiting for us. Waiting to reveal His great unfathomable, unending love for us…Let me tell you, there are little pieces of light that pierce the darkness of the wilderness and as your eyes become accustomed to them, you will discover there is immense beauty there too. And perhaps, like in Jesus’ case, maybe the angels will come and attend us in ways that will astonish us. A mystery indeed of how God uses such things for His Divine purposes.
THE WILDERNESS IS A PHYSICAL PLACE WITH A DIVINE PURPOSE