Have you ever had a wilderness experience? I am not talking about a refreshing forest type experience but a dry and empty desert one. A forest can offer covering, food, and water even if it appears to be vast and lonely. A forest can be a place of solace yet provision and is often a great place for those who love nature and desire to escape the business of life. But, a desert place appears to offer very little except a vastness of nothingness. A desert is hot, dry, barren, and dirty, yet these are the types of places we find ourselves growing the most in.
A few thoughts come to mind as I write today; “the desert experience, the wilderness experience, the mountaintop experience, and even the dark night of the soul.” All of these statements represent an atmospheric change, and each one could be written about separately. Though God may not be the One to bring them on all the time, He can use them to bring forth His purpose in our lives as we journey with Jesus. Jesus had all these experiences, so it should not be a surprise when we also have them. Something came out of all of these experiences for Jesus, and something will come for us as well, if we allow them.
1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. - Luk 4:1-2 NKJV
The first thing you need to know about a wilderness place is that the Holy Spirit will lead you there. God knows what it will take to break your will, to get your attitude adjusted, or to get you to connect to His will. He has designed you specifically to fulfill something here on earth while you are alive and capable of doing so. The more you resist, the deeper you may have to go into the wilderness to reach the submission required for the call on your life.
For Jesus, this first wilderness experience lasted for forty days before He was strengthened by the angels and released by God to go into His destined ministry.
The next thing to note about the wilderness is that your mind will be bombarded with thoughts that go against God and His purpose for the experience. Satan will lead the charge for this mind attack. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Lk 4:3
Satan will do everything he can to get you to forget you are a child of God destined for great things. He will try to get you to prove yourself so that you step outside of God’s will. God always requires obedience and humility. He will exalt us once we humble ourselves to Him. But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." - Jas 4:6
When you are in the wilderness or desert place, it is not unusual to look for the mountaintop, the place where you finally break through and feel as if you have arrived by conquering the lowlands. However, it may not always be God that brings you to the top. After a while, in the desert place, the enemy of your soul knows you are weak, and he will try to make you an offer you cannot refuse and may even think is of God.
5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for [this] has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 "Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." - Luk 4:5-7
Three Principles to Remember
Satan offered the Son of God, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, his authority, and glory! That would be hilarious if it were not so real to Jesus at the time. One of the reasons Jesus had to have the wilderness journey was to prepare Himself to walk in His humanness. Jesus was fully God and fully man. But, when He walked out His ministry with the disciples and hung on a cross for all humanity’s sins, He was not to rely on His Godhood. Jesus had to be human to die; God cannot die, the human had to die. Jesus did everything He did to show us how we could do the same in His strength.
The enemy of mankind took Jesus up a second time to a high place, the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. He set Him on the top and then told Him again to prove Himself as God. Jesus denied him for the third time by using the word of God. With every attempt, Satan made to get Jesus Christ to forfeit His destiny, Jesus responded with God’s truth.
· “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”
· “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”
· “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”
Jesus’ experience in the wilderness desert place gives us great insight into how we can live through the painful experiences of life. The “bread,” which is the word of God, worship Him and Him alone and fear God. When we have a fear of the LORD operating in us, we won’t dare test Him. We will trust Him fully, even when we see another way of doing something that may be more beneficial.
I titled this blog, “Christmas in the Desert” because it is during the holiday seasons that so many people suffer. People suffer financially, emotionally, and spiritually around Christmas time because it is a time of celebration and family for much of the world. However, when you don’t have the money or family to celebrate with, one might become depressed even to the point of hopelessness. Emotional pain takes hold at levels so deep many do not know what to do with such pain. When we are in a desert place, the pain is as real as any physical wounding and people seldom reach out for help. When someone does ask, they are in a vulnerable state, and we should make certain to be tender with their emotions because they may be in a wilderness place and need help navigating through it.
I read an article recently that said a woman put out a Facebook post stating that she was a grandma and wanted to be part of somebody’s family for Christmas. She said she would cook and clean and that she was just tired of being alone. Instead of people reaching out to her, they attacked her for stating such a thing. Have you ever been so offended at another person’s loneliness that you attacked them?
People lash out at those who appear to be weak because it often makes them uncomfortable. If you read this ad as a believer in Christ, then the Holy Spirit might prompt you to reach out and do something to address this lonely woman. That type of prompting may actually intimidate you and cause you to get angry at the person who appears to create the situation. If a person claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ and reacts with hate and not love, then God may well have to take them into a deserted wilderness experience to help shape their character to be more like His. It is best to quickly surrender to His word to love so that “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jn 13:35 NASB
Heavenly Father, it has become so easy for me to overlook another’s pain because it makes me uncomfortable. Forgive me for every time I overlooked another’s need to fulfill my own agenda. I know that Jesus went through the wilderness to prepare Him to do as You required, help me embrace the season of a dry wasteland so that I can become more like You. Help me to walk by Your Spirit so that I will stop fulfilling the lust of my flesh. In Jesus name, Amen