Behaving in the Wilderness! (Is your Faith being Tested?)

By Dr. Ron Woodworth
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Years ago Bob Mumford said that between the promise (made in Egypt to the Jews by Moses) and the provision (of the land of Canaan) there is a problem-the wilderness! Indeed, some have observed that because of their rebellion–what would normally have been a 3-4 week journey actually ended up taking the Jewish nation 40 years! In other words, one thing you don’t want to do in your “wilderness” time of testing and trial is to rebel. Psalms 68:6 says it best, “God sets the lonely in families, and leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a dry/sun-scorched land, or wilderness”! As a matter of fact, the Greek word for wilderness is “eraymos” which is where the word “arid” extra dry comes from, seriously! So the next time you feel dry, desolate, lonely or forsaken by God-guess where you are!

At least it should be hopeful to note that the wilderness, though a necessary part of our kingdom journey, is only supposed to be a transitional experience for the obedient. And, try as hard as we may to circumvent the wilderness, we are destined to traverse this harsh spiritual terrain. After all, if the Old Covenant Jewish nation were led out of Egypt–through the Red Sea–into the wilderness-on their way to the promise land, then perhaps the New Covenant community of believers can learn a lesson from their prophetic journey. Paul came to this same conclusion in 1 Corinthians 10:11 as he recounted the wilderness journey of the Jews by noting that, “these things happened to them (the Jews) as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”

Consider also that beyond the Jewish example of the Lord’s wilderness leading, we have the model of Jesus’ own life. You’ll remember that immediately after Jesus was baptized by John that he was then “led by Spirit into the wilderness/desert” (Luke 4:1b)-in order to be “tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:2)! My point is that if the Jews were led by the Lord God out of Egypt into the wilderness and if Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness-where do you think you’re going, that’s right, into the wilderness too! But here’s a ray of hope: Jesus went into the wilderness “filled” with the Spirit (Luke 4:1), but 40 days later he came out of the wilderness in the “power” of the Spirit (Luke 4:14)! And, the same thing had happened in the wilderness that transformed Jesus could transform us as well-if we respond properly to the testing and trials of our faith.

What are the trials you are now facing in your journey toward the promise land of God’s provision in your life? Is it a test of your faith regarding health, finances, guidance, family conflicts, job struggles, and emotional torment? Whatever the trial remember three things:

  1. This wilderness is only a passing journey. (Thank God “it came to pass”-it didn’t come to stay!)
  2. The wilderness is an empowering experience-through persevering under the suffering of weakness. Remember 2 Corinthians 12:9…my power is perfected in weakness.
  3. Your faith needs to be strengthened by wilderness trials so that you can receive the reward of his promises-in this life and in the one to come!

“So do not throw away your confidence; which will be richly rewarded. For you have need of perseverance; so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised you” (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Our Journey’s Goal
By:  Ron Woodworth

I met the Lord at Calvary, suspended on a cross,
T’was then I saw his agony, for love he suffered loss.
I turned and he did walk with me,
We walked and walked and walked.
Through all the laughter, toil, and pain,
We always seemed free to talk.
‘Til then one day in contemplation,
I turned and asked the Lord…
“For all this time you’ve spent with me,
What is this journey’s goal?”
Just then his eyes caught hold of mine,
And tears he scarce could hold…
“I’ve walked these years to bring you here,”
Was the story that he told.
And then solemn majesty,
The Lord took off his crown;
And placed it on my head,
As he did slowly turn me ’round.
And there I saw my journey’s end,
Oh blessed wondrous sight;
A lonely cross upon a hill,
To the world it was my plight.
But as I walked closer still,
My hand the Lord did hold;
The cross seemed precious to me indeed,
More precious than much fine gold.
For there I saw a place for me,
Though glory I had sought;
But his reproach in life to bear,
Was the reason I was bought.

***For much more on understanding the wilderness and other vital foundational truths, see Lesson #3 of Ron’s Series entitled “Biblical Christianity 101″

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