The Desolate Places.
It is known by many names throughout scripture and is a place, sometimes physical while others spiritual, that is deeply rooted into the biblical narrative. This is the place Israel dwelt for forty years before entering the promise land and the same place Jesus withdrew way from the multitudes to pray. It’s personally is a very important place to me. Although I have not always treated it as hallowed while on this journey to the age to come. I, like so many that came out of Egypt, treated this place with such contempt and hatred. But I am finally learning to appreciate it for what it is and what it has to offer.
So many of the Israelites died in the wilderness because of unbelief and an unwillingness to allow God to prosper them in the middle of what they considered damnable. Where do we get off declaring a place God calls Holy unholy? I do not know but I can relate to Israel all to often. I so frequently murmur and complain that the bread here is too stale and the quail does not quite suit my taste but I know with every fiber in me that whatever is to be found in these woods is far better than anything Egypt had to offer. The younger generation of Israelites believed it too. The Joshua and Caleb’s who were crazy enough to believe what everyone else deemed a pipe-dream. The young men and women that were forged in that place who were so convinced that God would see them through. The boys and girls who who were willing to breathe in redemption and press on toward the goal.
I am starting, sometimes reluctantly, to make that transition. But Lord knows I have played the prodigal more times than one. I have been in and oh of the deplane place more times than I can count. Carried off to exile as back ten times at least all to realize that this place means something. That it is not punishment unless that is what we choose it to be. That it is holy. The Wilderness is the place our hearts first fell in love with God.
Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor into a gateway of hope. There she will respond as she did in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt.
This is the place where our hearts are awakened to the extravagant love of our Father toward us! If we are willing He will always take what we see as trouble and make it the very door of hope! How amazing is that! I think most of the time we hear sermons on how bad the wilderness is and how God is trying to get us through it so we can we to the promise land. That may be true metaphor in particular specific circumstances of our lives but I fully believe the wilderness is what you make it. The simple fact that Jesus withdrew to the desolate places says volumes more than my own words can even begin to articulate. We see Christ so frequently going into the wilderness to pray, escape, weep, prepare, and simply be with his God. It Is a place he considers holy. So what is the wilderness through the lens of Christ?
It is the place were our God sets up his table(which is something the Israelites were convinced he could not do).
This is the place of more than mana and quail. This is the place were We find him handing out true bread and true drink. Saying “Take and eat. For this is my body broken for you! Take and drink for this is my blood shed for you!”.
This is the place that so many times the multitudes would come to be taught by their God like in the days of Moses but with a surpassing glory! They set at Christ feet on the mount this time around rather than fleeing the mountain in terror. If you are in the wilderness do not fret because the vehement flame of the love of God will guide you on your way! By night and by day! The Holy Spirit will make this place worth your while if you will let him. I promise!
I find my self with such a deep longing for that place of solace in total dependence of my Father. It is in those moments that I remember all that that place taught me and is still teaching me. I remember that vehement love that captivated my heart. I want to assure you that I have not arrived yet. I am still walking circles in this wilderness finding God under every rock I see and in the eyes of all the people I meet. I am still discovering the vastness of his love for me and though somedays I stand before him with dirty feet there is no place I would rather be. There are still lessons to be learned here.
Every time I start to breathe with contempt I hear the Holy Spirit so subtly,
“Do not forget the lessons you learned in the Wilderness all those years ago!“
Through whom, to whom, and for whom all thing exist!
He led His people out like sheep and guided them like a flock in the wilderness. He led them safely, and they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies.