Tag Archives: wilderness

The Wilderness


I’m on a trip to Israel. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of my insights from going to the places throughout this country that was written about so much in the Bible. One of the first things you notice here in Israel is how tough the terrain is. It’s a very mountainous country, but these aren’t friendly mountains. They are covered in rocks and they protrude from the ground in an unforgiving manner.

As we drive through southern Israel, you can’t help but think how difficult it must have been to travel by foot. Not only is the terrain rough, but this time of year, it’s very hot. As we traveled from Masada to Jericho to Jerusalem, we stopped to look at the Mount of Temptation. It is where it is believed that Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting and was tempted by the enemy. If in fact it was the place, it would have made a difficult fast nearly unbearable.

Matthew 4:1 says, “THEN JESUS was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil”. It’s important to note here that He was led by the Holy Spirit to go into this place. The wilderness is a tough, unforgiving place, but when it is the Holy Spirit leading us, we can trust God will protect us and give us everything we need.

It’s not always comfortable where the Spirit leads us. Sure we like it when God leads us to the mountain top, but that mountain isn’t always a beautiful mountain. The road can be hard, and the mountain can be rough. The Spirit will often take us to seek and to save the lost. In many cases, they are in the wilderness of life themselves living a rough life. To find them, we have to leave the green pastures and endure rough terrain.

With the leading of the Holy Spirit we cannot fail. Of course, His definition of success and failure may be different than our own. We only see in part, so we can only know in part what God’s plan is. He sees the bigger picture and knows what needs to happen in order to accomplish His will. Our responsibility is to follow the Spirit’s leading wherever that may be, even if it’s the wilderness. If we are willing to trust Him, and to follow His leading, we can rest assured He will not let us fail in the wilderness.

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The God Who Sees

  
Have you ever felt like God doesn’t see you? Does it feel like He doesn’t see you or even know your name? It sometimes can feel like God has forgotten you when things aren’t going your way. Hagar, Sarai’s maid servant, felt that way. She had been handed over to Abram as a wife by her master with the intent of getting pregnant and giving up her child to Sarai. No one asked her or God if that’s what they wanted, but here she was pregnant with Abram’s seed. She was despised by Sarai and chased off.

She found herself going from a place of security to insecurity. She went from knowing where she was going to sleep and not having to worry about food to being homeless and hungry. She broke down in the desert. She wept and cried out to God. He sent an angel to meet her in the wilderness. He called her by name in Genesis 16:8. He said, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?” (NLT)

The angel of God knew where she was and her name just like He knows your name and where you are. You may be crying in the wilderness because you’ve been done wrong as well, but God sees you. He will meet you in that place and bless you. He will not leave you in the wilderness unprotected and despondent. When you cry out to Him, He will answer because you are not forgotten. You are important to Him and are not hidden from His view.

In verse 13, she calls God by a new name, El-Roi. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” In that moment, the doubts fled. She knew that God saw her broken in the wilderness. If He saw her, then He sees you. Each one of us are important to Him. You don’t have to be living the blessed life for Him to know where you are. You can be a single mom who is homeless and not sure where to go or what to do like Hagar, and God will hear your cry because He sees you. No matter how bad things are, you are not forgotten. God sees you and will meet you in your wilderness.

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Surviving the Wilderness

When I was a teenager, I was involved in a scouting program that my denomination has. One of the merits that we had to earn was the Survival badge. There were several things we had to do to get it. The last thing we had to do was to go on a survival camp out. My commander Jamie took a group of us about 45 minutes away, explained to us that we had been in an airplane crash, what the rules were and that he’d be back the next day when we gave the distress signal.

When he left, I became the oldest person in the group of teenagers. We were out in the wilderness alone. Later I would find out that Jamie wasn’t too far off. He wasn’t just going to leave a bunch of boys out in the wilderness by themselves! Thinking we were alone until morning, I got to work. I knew that we only had a certain amount of daylight left. I built a shelter, gathered wood, started a fire, pulled some string and stink bait from my survival kit, made a hook out of wood and set a line in a pond nearby.

Jamie did what God does when we are in the wilderness of life. He prepared us for what was coming. He gave us the tools we needed to be successful in a time of survival. He taught us how to trap food in the wild, clean it, cook it and how to build a shelter. God prepares us as well. When you are in the wilderness, survival is key. You need to eat spiritually. Get into God’s Word and hear His voice through scripture. Surround yourself with others who can help you survive. They will be your shelter.

The next thing Jamie did was to take us to the wilderness to test us and to show we learned what he had taught us. God allows us time in the wilderness to put into action what we have learned. In Matthew 4:1, the Bible says that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, tested and tried. God knows that when you put into practice the knowledge you have been given, it becomes skill. In those times, God proves to you that you can survive with Him.

While we were in the wilderness of East Texas, we felt alone out there. That’s true of us when we go through things in life. It can seem like God is no where near us and that we are left to survive without Him. That’s not the case though. Just like Jamie was for us, God is near by and is watching you, keeping you safe and making sure you are taken care of. It may not feel like it, but He is there. He sees you, He’s prepared you and now He’s watching over you.

The last thing Jamie said before he left was that when we had survived the night, we needed to send up a distress signal and he would come for us. God knows you can survive the night in the wilderness and is waiting for you to signal Him to come rescue you. In Psalm 91:14,15 the Lord says, “When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them.” He made that promise to you.

If you are in the wilderness today and are trying to survive, know that God has given you what you need to survive. He has given you shelter (Psalm 91:1). He has given you the tools to survive (Psalm 119:105). He is right there with you. He will not leave you nor forsake (abandon) you (Hebrews 13:5). When you have survived the night with His help, He will come to you and minister to you. You are not alone. You can and will survive this.

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