- A classic setting – The Wilderness
- God moves us away from our fleshly support and natural strengths = isolation
- This process of removal from all things “familiar” is an essential part of deconstructing our old identities and allows for the reconstruction of the new and true identity we’ve never fully realized from our own effort and ambition.
* He allows us to be left out of the normal flow and function of our world = leaves us feeling discarded or in a ‘time out’, but we’re not.
* He allows our circumstances to be uncomfortable and difficult = suffering
- He prevents us from seeing beyond our day, no vision for tomorrow, no clarity of our path forward = dependence
- Our activities are mundane and seemingly irrelevant, we feel insignificant and ineffective at best = reveals motives
- Our hearts feel alone and unsupported, our minds are anxious and we sense only ourselves and no one else. = Faith vs. feeling
- In our despair we are forced to choose, we can turn to our past or trust God for our future. Our flesh aches to find meaning, value, purpose in our old ways and habits. The spirit urges us onto deeper intimacy with God. = spiritual growth
- The longer and deeper the struggle lasts, the more profound and enduring the lessons and transformation we experience.
This isolation and instability is awful. It removes all manner of old affirmation and familiar encouragements, this is exactly as intended by God to lead us deeper and further into our intended purpose.
Psalm 27 is / has been a significant strength to me.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (ESV)
Life in the Wilderness – Biblical Examples:
* Abraham in the promise land – experiencing famine and leaving the promise land to go down to Egypt. (Foreshadowing)
- Abraham and Sarah – living in the land of promise without the promise and creating Ishmael in an effort to force the promise of God
- Jacob and his servitude to his father in law
- Joseph and His imprisonments
- Moses and his 40 years in the desert wilderness
- The nation of Israel and their wandering generation of 40 years in the wilderness
- David as the future anointed King and his 15 years of running and hiding in a wilderness exile and under threat of persecution by King Saul
- Jesus in the desert for 40 days and nights before his ministry begins
- Saul / Paul in his desert time in Arabia – 14 years
These ‘examples’ should bring us comfort and perspective. Each of us will enter multiple seasons of wilderness life, each will need to move from anger and doubt to acceptance and trust. The wilderness in scripture represents a time of testing and teaching. God was not punishing, He was preparing.
So it is with us.