Thursday July 2, 2020
A Way in the Wilderness
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Jesus has just been baptized and was led, BY THE SPIRIT, up to the wilderness. The wilderness is a common theme throughout the Bible. It might be easy to just think about the wilderness as the woods or a forest, but the wilderness can be just as confining and broad without a single tree in sight. The wilderness is a quiet place, a place of solitude, a hidden place where things grow even when no one is around to see it.
The wilderness evokes strong images of desolation and loneliness. If we’re all honest here, most of us don’t too much care for the idea of the wilderness. Many of us feel that wilderness desolation right now. We are in unfamiliar territory, a place of loss and silence. In many ways, we are in the wilderness. Or you’ve been in uncomfortable territory and had things revealed about you that you’d rather keep hidden or struggle to hide things that need to be seen. You’re in the wilderness. Or you’re in unclear territory. You’re in a place where nothing is going right, everything feels like failure. You’re in that place where the things you would normally do aren’t working and you don’t know what to do, where to go or what’s coming next. You’re in the wilderness. We all know something about what it means to be in the wilderness, desperately trying to find your footing, to find a way through the wilderness.
If we were to continue to be honest here, we’d have to admit that we know that wilderness is absolutely necessary. There was no getting to the best things in our life without a wilderness experience. In fact, it almost seems like major moves of God are preceded by time spent in the wilderness. God led Elijah to the wilderness in the Kerith Ravine and provided for him there while going through a dangerous situation with King Ahab, Moses was led to the wilderness of Mt. Sinai before returning to the place of his greatest disgrace to free the Israelites from the tyranny of Egypt. And God led those same Israelites to wander around the wilderness before taking them into the Promised Land. It seems as if a major move of God comes with some time served in the wilderness. The truth of the matter, I think, is that the wilderness is necessary. In the wilderness, we find ourselves isolated from all of the noise and clamor of our ambition, comforts, conveniences and hustle and bustle of the status quo. The wilderness is grow time, and the only way out is through. The wilderness reveals things to us, about us that we need to see, because it forces us to confront the truth of who we are and the reality of where we are.
GOD IS IN THE WILDERNESS, AND WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS LIBERTY AND FREEDOM!
That’s good news! There is not a wilderness that exists where God can’t be found. God is with you in the wilderness. The adage is true, and I believe it. If God leads you to it, God can lead you through it. But when you find yourself in the wilderness, you need to remember that the only way out is through. There’s no going back, and if you’re smart, you’d remember that you can’t do it alone. You will need God’s help. God has a plan and purpose for your wilderness. Here are three reasons why you need to trust God as your Way Through the Wilderness
When God is your way through the wilderness, there is restoration in the wilderness.
When God is your way through the wilderness, there is education in the wilderness.
When God is your way through the wilderness, there is preparation in the wilderness
- Where are you finding refreshing in your wilderness?
- What are you learning about yourself and God in your wilderness?
- What are you feeling called to do next? How will you lean into that calling?
Prayer for Today
Help us, O Lord, to be faithful in the wilderness. When we are grieving loss, help us to trust Your leading. When we are confused, help us to have confidence in You. When we can’t see the way forward, open our eyes to your grace and love in our lives. Use our wilderness to bring out about greater love for you, greater love of one another, and tremendous change in our world. Be our way in the wilderness. Amen!
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