Lessons from the Wilderness

(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.

Tanzania

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?

Life’s Tsunamis

In reading about deadly storm surges and tsunamis, I learned the height and speed of the water are determined by the landscape of the deep ocean floor. What we see in the surge, is based on what lies unseen in the formation of the ocean floor.

In December 2004 a tsunami hit Indonesia and left more than 150,000 people dead or missing and millions more homeless in 11 countries, making it the most destructive tsunami in recorded history. It was a normal day. Sunny blue skies, but unbeknownst to the masses, an earthquake deep in the Indian Ocean generated enough energy to send a wall of water rushing the shorelines and waterways hundreds of miles away. There was no real warning for many.

Walls of water can rush at 600 MPH leaving in their wake desolation and devastation.

Tsunamis can be a result of seismic activity or storms.

The 2004 Tsunami in Indonesia affected people who didn’t feel the earthquake and were nowhere near the epicenter, yet the consequences for many were life altering.

Occasionally life can resemble a tsunami leaving desolation and devastation in its wake. Conflict, betrayal, a lie, a diagnosis and a clear sky day can turn on a dime without warning. What about the times when we are caught up in the surges of someone else’s life. We aren’t the cause or even near it when it happens yet we are rocked by its shockwaves…often unexpectedly.

Surviving a tsunami or storm surge is about leverage.

Our only salvation from being swept away in a surge is being tethered to something larger and stronger than ourselves and the force of the surge itself.

Emotional tsunami’s can enter our lives without warning. Being prepared and assured of a solid foundation can help us weather the surge. How will you stand firm in the face of that diagnosis, that loss, that grief, that broken trust?

Our Creator promises to be a refuge.

Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Point to Ponder: What lies unseen in our hearts? What determines the force of our surges, of our waves as they crash ashore? Where is our stronghold?

%d bloggers like this: