Posted by: Brad Stanford | July 1, 2016

In The Wilderness

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1

If you’re a believer going from glory to glory, wilderness happens. It is the place of refinement and preparedness. It is a cleansing process that is required for the next step.

We often pray against this process, when it’s actually an answer to our previous “Take me higher” prayers. We want the higher without the process of climbing the mountain. Don’t get me wrong – God positions us outside of our own efforts quite often. But He is interested in us going through things.

Note that the hero of our story – Jesus – had to go through things. And yet there were times when he would walk on water and manifest himself some lunch. My own confusion often lies in getting these events confused with deliverance, and even further confused by the normal pain of lifting spiritual weights I’ve never lifted before. But the point is: if Jesus was not delivered from suffering and pain, then why would we expect to be delivered from going through things?

Lately, I have found myself in the wilderness. Most everything in life is not what it used to be, and completely unstable. I have multiple direction changes across multiple areas in life. Some of these are natural with a growing family or a growing spiritual life. Others are brought on by God calling me to a new mission that isn’t quite clear yet.

The wilderness is an in-between place, so it’s the complete opposite of a comfortable existence. You don’t fit where you came from, and you can’t go back. But you’re not ready for your new position yet, so you can’t go forward. You feel stuck, alone, weary, and now tempted.

The first two temptations were about who Jesus was: “If you are the Son of God…”. Jesus answered with scripture, and we should be no different. When we get that feeling that we don’t know who we are, we can look at passages like 1 Corinthians 1 and get our identity back:

“4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

But the third temptation was about a shortcut to glory. This is the greatest temptation. The one we face every day. Satan says, “If you will simply give in and be polluted a little by the world, then the path to what you’re trying to do will be far easier.” Just cheat a little. Just don’t pursue the kingdom as hard. Just work a few more hours even though your kids need you. So many temptations!

God already knows your character. The wilderness reveals it to us so we can know it as well. When God starts revealing things, that’s good. It means He has something for you to do (purpose) that can’t be done with the baggage you’re carrying. The good news is, you’re about to lose some dead weight!

So next time you start to pray away the pain, perhaps change it to, “God: take me through this. Show me the way. Wherever you are leading me, I’ll follow.”

You’ll be glad you did.

 

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