Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Wilderness: A Time of Spiritual Growth

by Gregory A. Johnson

Cedar Mnt Wilderness By BLM [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThe longer I live, the more convinced I become that there are God designed and defined periods of our life that are carved out with the specific purpose of preparing us. These periods of time can be considered wilderness experiences.

In these wilderness experiences, we encounter spiritual drought, loneliness, and temptation as we learn to deal with our faults and our doubts. We confront our weaknesses in the wilderness, and they eventually make way to strength as more of our flesh is crucified, facilitating growth in our dependence upon the Lord.

In the wilderness, our faith is stretched and, as a result, it is enlarged. We come out of the wilderness better people with more faith, ready to accomplish the task at hand, until we come to the next wilderness experience, where we will, once again, be fine-tuned to traverse another level on our journey, as we live in service to the Lord.

Moses experienced the seclusion of the wilderness before he could be used to deliver a nation from the oppressive bondage of slavery. The nation of Israel experienced the meagerness of the wilderness before it could taste the bountifulness of the Promised Land. John the Baptist was prepared in the wilderness before he could prepare the way of the Lord. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness before beginning his earthly ministry. The Christ-follower today becomes familiar with the wilderness as they live to continue the point-of-need ministry of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a brief look at John the Baptist and the wilderness:
“…the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:2-3 ESV)
Notice:
  1. The word of God came to John in the wilderness.
  2. John came out of the wilderness preparing the way for Jesus.
There was a famine of the word of God in the land. Until John, Malachi was the last prophet to say, “thus says the Lord.” But now, 460 years later, the Word of God comes to John, in the wilderness.

John comes out of the wilderness with a fresh word from God and a consuming mission to prepare the way for Jesus. Many would try to make him the messiah, but in the wilderness, he learned that it was not about him, and that it was all about Jesus. He would reflect any praise and quickly point people to Jesus.

Beloved, the wilderness is a time of spiritual growth. Allow God to do a full work in you in the midst of the wilderness he has you in. I know it is spiritually dry and physically lonely there. I know your faith is being tested like never before. I also know that the best for you is yet to come. Allow God’s word to come to you. You will come out of your wilderness with a fresh word from God, a renewed vision, and a strengthened passion to make Jesus known beyond the boundaries of the life-changing, Spirit-empowering wilderness you find yourself within.

Know that you are loved,
gaj

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