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Wilderness Experiences

March 18th, 2013

“He . . guided them in the wilderness . . and He led them safely.” Psalm 78:52 NKJV.

Jesus identifies with your struggle and invites you to identify with His success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wilderness experiences.”

Everyone will spend some time in “a wilderness.” A wilderness experience is where and when you feel alone. You are somewhere unfamiliar, uncomfortably betwixt and between, not where you were nor where you want to be. The Bible references “a wilderness” as a place removed or apart, or a place barren and lacking. Life will include those moments and places. At the least, wilderness experiences are uncomfortable.

There is always a danger of knowingly walking apart from the will of God and experiencing the dearth of fellowship and spiritual emptiness that result. But at times, life’s journey may simply take you through things you do not choose. Among a litany of such experiences, The Apostle Paul wrote of “perils in the wilderness.” Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV. Wilderness experiences hold perils for those unprepared.

A wilderness is not as much geographical as the experience of emotional, relational, or spiritual lack; more than a place, it’s a difficult time – a circumstance and time when your heart feels adrift, your future seems uncertain. Wilderness experiences may be triggered by hurtful misunderstandings, false accusations, serious illness, financial lack, painful divorce, unemployment, loneliness, discouragement, loss of direction, or many things really.

In such wilderness experiences, it is easy to become lost, beginning to think the worst and fear there is no way out. Disappointment – “things not as appointed” -leads to discouragement; discouragement brings disillusionment; disillusionment results in despair.

Israel’s wilderness was a detour they chose out of fear and lack of trust, yet God was there with them. A wilderness was neither God’s intention nor their final destination, just an experience along their journey. “He . . guided them in the wilderness like a flock; and He led them safely, so that they did not fear . .” Psalm 78:52-53 NKJV. In every uncertain time, be sure of God and His Word.

The wilderness can weaken you, leaving you vulnerable. Very honestly, the Bible says, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1-3 NKJV. Read Luke 2:4-13 NKJV. When the Devil appealed to Jesus’ humanity – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16-17 NKJV) – and misapplied the Holy Scriptures, Jesus responded clearly and firmly with the truth. Indeed, the “truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NIV. Here is the good news: “[Jesus] was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV. Jesus identifies with your struggle and invites you to identify with His success.

Jesus prevailed by knowing, trusting, and confessing God’s Word; that’s the same way and only way you will prevail in your wilderness experiences. The Bible is your wilderness survival guide. Luke reports, “And Jesus returned [from the wilderness] in the power of the Spirit.” Luke 4:14 NKJV. In your wilderness, you will not be alone; with the Word of God within and the Holy Spirit empowering, and God alongside, you will come out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit with your faith intact.

My prayer for you this day is that you will walk with God confidently.

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