Archives for posts with tag: wilderness

promised land 2

What if the “Promised Land” is literally the territory that becomes Israel in the Bible…AND figuratively the blessings of God on the obedience of His people? What if our study of Old Testament history is meant to lead us to deeper understanding of both God’s will for all his people, and God’s will for us individually? I believe God set aside a geographic place, but I also believe God prepares a “promised land” that is unique for each of His children. It may be a geographic place. It may be a relationship or a ministry or a front row seat to see God at work…it was all those for the ancient Hebrews. There are some things that were true about the promised land God gave to his people back then that are also true for each of us as we seek God’s will for us right now.

 We have to separate themselves from what has been and allow God to do a new thing. God required that Abraham leave Ur and that the Hebrews leave Egypt in order to inhabit a different place. They could not have become the people God intended them to be if they had refused to obey God’s instructions. For us, that may not necessarily mean physical relocation, but it will mean that we have to let go of things that keep us bound to the past, or prevent us from seeing new things about ourselves and about God.

 Getting from where we are to the promised land God calls us to is not a magic miracle; it is a journey. There will be times in the wilderness. The journey to possess our promised lands may be fraught with tests and tribulations intended to make us strong enough to overcome the “giants” that already live there. Dwelling in our promised land will require that we trust God more than we fear those who oppose us, that we want what God chooses for us more than we want what we’ve chosen for ourselves.

 Promised lands are not a one-time gift; they have to be defended. Satan is threatened by those who obey God’s call on their lives and inhabit the promised lands God gives them. But when we stand firm in what we know is God’s call on our lives, God fights the battles for us, just as He fought for the ancient Hebrews as they moved forward into Canaan to possess their land.

 God led those ancient peoples each step of the way. They walked across the Red Sea on dry land as they left Egypt; they walked across the Jordan River on dry land as they arrived in their promised land. And in between, they saw some of the most magnificent miracles recorded in the Bible.

 God still leads those who will follow. May we let go of the things that prevent us from knowing the full measure of His blessing on our lives, and may that process let us see His glory and allow us to fully trust Him for our next step forward.

 

tabernacle 4

I like the comfortable places in life. I like knowing God’s blessings and feeling his peace and joy. It is easy for me to be obedient and positive when I’m getting my way and I can see God’s plan working like I want it to. I intentionally try to avoid the hard, painful places in life.

 The problem is that our relationship with God is not about getting our way or avoiding the hard parts of life. God calls us to follow him even when we can’t see the path and obey him even when we don’t like the plan.

 God rescued his people from the slavery of Egypt and led them into the desert. The people wanted to immediately move from being abused to being in charge. They wanted the abundance and blessings God could provide, but they were less interested in knowing the God who provided them. So God required that they spend time in the wilderness before they got to the Promised Land. They had to build a Tabernacle in the desert so that God could dwell among them, so that they could learn to know him, so that they could worship him. What they learned in the wilderness prepared them for victory in the Promised Land. Their time in the desert was God’s plan for their ultimate good, not punishment or accident.

 My times of wilderness are not punishment or accident either. When I find myself in the desert places of my life, I can choose to “do time” there until that time is done. I can feel sorry for what I don’t have; I can wallow in the pain or the frustration of what I’m facing; I can resent the God who won’t do what I want him to. OR I can build a tabernacle. I can intentionally make a holy space for God to dwell in the midst of what I’m facing and feeling and allow his power transform my situation into his presence.

 When they built a tabernacle, they got to use their gifts to honor God. They came to know the holiness of one who wanted to dwell with his people. They saw God’s glory, and it led them to worship. And when they did, their wilderness was transformed into a holy place.

 I need to “build a tabernacle” more often. I need to give God space to help me see him and trust him no matter what my circumstances look like.

 May we use our talents to serve the One who wants to dwell with us…even on the hard, frustrating, painful days. And may we intentionally create space to know the holy presence of the Almighty God who seeks relationship with us and wants to transform our wilderness into a holy place.

wilderness 4 

It can be an actual place or a period of time in your life. It is characterized by desolation, whether that looks like overgrowth or emptiness. You can be driven there by pain or suffering, or you can choose it in hopes of relief. It can be somewhere you intentionally go to find peace or understanding in the midst of uncertainty or pain, or it may be somewhere you end up because the difficulties of your circumstances leave you feeling so incredibly alone. It may be the only place that all of your emptiness, frustration, and isolation will fit. It is always a place or a time where you feel alone, separated from the frantic pace and expectations of the world.

The Bible is full of wilderness stories. Moses went there to escape from Egypt. God required the Hebrews wander there for 40 years. Elijah and David hid there from rulers who wanted them dead, but Paul intentionally went there to learn about God. Jesus went there to prepare for his ministry. Battles were fought there; prophets spoke truth there; people were baptized there. The wilderness stories of the Bible are full of miracles, deeper insight, temptations, and fear. But one thing all wilderness time has in common for people in the Bible and for us; it changes the hearts of those who spend time there.

You may seek the wilderness to hide your shame or to find some direction. You may go there because you don’t belong where you used to be, or because you no longer want what you have. Your time there may be a source of rest or restlessness. Many found healing in the wilderness. Some died there. Some repented there. Nearly all saw or heard from God there. Some received new direction for their lives there. Others were refreshed there and left with new strength to return to their original calling.

Don’t waste your wilderness. Don’t just spend time there and go back to your world and your problems unchanged. Let the desolation of your wilderness lead you into the presence of God. Let it give you new perspective on what took you there and what is next after your time there is done. May your time in the wilderness deepen your understanding of and your commitment to the Almighty God who seeks you wherever you go, even, and especially, in your wilderness.