When journeying in the wilderness, I am reminded again and again how easy it is to lose perspective. As Moses journeyed, the Israelites grumbled and complained. They even set up golden calves as false gods to worship. As Elijah journeyed in the wilderness, he began to fear. He prayed that he would die (1 Kings 19: 4). Even Jesus needed the angels to minister to him after his time in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11 and Mark 1: 13).
Moses was leading a people who were never satisfied and wanted to murder him. Elijah was running from a witch who vowed to take his life. Jesus was standing against Satan who desired to kill him, if only he could. The wilderness is a dangerous place!
Because there are always spiritual rulers, authorities, power, and evil forces (Eph 6: 12) working against us, we must be careful. We must steady our pace and keep our eyes on God. We must narrow our focus to see what God wants to teach us in the wilderness.
In the wilderness: God taught Moses that he is faithful and can always be trusted to provide. God taught Elijah that he provides, hears, and has a plan. In the wilderness, God the Father taught Jesus how to stand!
In his book, Shepherds After My Own Heart, Dr. Timothy Laniak reminds readers: “Jesus understands that the wilderness, tough replete with hostile forces, is the environment in which he, as YHWH [God] in the past, must reveal himself. The ‘way in the wilderness’ (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:3) is the way of the Lord.”
This short quote reveals two simple realities: God uses the wilderness to transform us into Christ’s image. God uses the wilderness to teach us that we can trust him, period.
He continues, “The wilderness, from the perspective of Deuteronomy, was the place where YHWH [God] taught his people that he could provide for them.”
The wilderness teaches us that God is our provider. Sometimes it is not enough to know that God provided for people in the Bible. Sure, it is good to start there. That’s one element of our faith, knowing and believing the written Word of God. However, our faith is stretched, our devotion is deepened when we have experienced God for ourselves, when we have seen him show up in difficult situations and meet our needs. Only then, can we say without a shadow of doubt that “I know God will provide!”
Though God launched angels to feed Jesus and Elijah (1 Kings 19: 5-8), it is important to know that God provides much more than physical nourishment in the wilderness. God uses the wilderness “to teach you that man does not live on bread along but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deut 8:3).”
The wilderness teaches us to rely on the Word of God. Allow the Word to breathe life into what seems to be a dead situation. Hide the word of God in your heart. God will speak, sometimes in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19: 12b) to let you know that he will never leave you or forsake you.
What Word, song, prayers, Psalms, or scripture has God used to carry you through the wilderness? Please share as a means of encouraging others.
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012