“Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”” – Matthew 4:1-4.
Ever sit back and evaluate your life, both the highs and the lows and those humdrum periods we all experience from time to time? It’s those times when you wonder if your hard work will ever pay off. It is those times when you are so immersed in the day-to-day grind that your larger goals seem out of reach. You haven’t done the math, but it seems there are more boring days when life is spent in relative obscurity, than spectacular ones. The normal you experience in life is not the normal you envisioned, but it is the normal nonetheless. And let’s face it, normal doesn’t exactly give us butterflies. Or your life may be anything but normal, and you wish for normality when you seem to always be wandering in the wilderness.
We will all spend some time in the wilderness as Jesus did when the devil tempted Him. But not all that happens in the wilderness or obscurity is bad, because it is in those places that God is working. It is the place where we can better tune our heart to the small voice of the Spirit.
Being in the wilderness is not punishment. God draws people into obscurity, into the wilderness, not because He’s angry with them, or because they aren’t “successful” enough, but because He wants to go deeper in His relationship with them. The wilderness, or obscurity is the place that reveals the depth of God’s love for us, every bit as much as it spotlights our enemy that constantly seeks to tempt us. We should not be afraid of the wilderness because it is there that the Lord shows us the things He has for us in it; the people He might have us love, the battles He has asked us to fight, and the wounds He has yet to heal. The wilderness is a prequel for things yet to come.
And the wilderness or obscurity can be a place of new beginnings. After their 40 year stay in the wilderness, Joshua let the people of God cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. In Hosea’s day, God led Israel through the wilderness to bring the nation back to Himself. “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.” (Hosea 2:14). John the Baptist marked a new beginning for Israel by introducing God’s people to their long-awaited Messiah in the wilderness. “In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’” (Matthew 3:1-3)
Your wilderness or obscurity experience is the place where God prepares you for “His purposes.” You may feel that the darkness of the wilderness will never cease, but the time will come when the Lord will bring you out of obscurity to the place He desires for you.
- What can we do when we are in the wilderness?
- Read James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5: What is the purpose and benefits of being in the wilderness?
- What can we apply to our lives from the message this week?