Probably the majority of those who read this blog are a part of the Calvary family. If so this is review, but I thought it was worth reviewing. So I’m going to do a few blog posts on the wilderness experience. My thoughts get started in Mark’s gospel… 1:8-13 or so.
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, You are my
dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy. The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.
Can you imagine this? Jesus comes up out of the water, the heavens open and the voice of God thunders. “This is my Son. I love Him. He pleases me.” Heaven erupts with applause. Can’t you almost hear God cheering? We easily visualize the all-powerful God; always in control; the holy God who hates sin; the God who hears us, leads us, and even suffers with us. But how often do you imagine a God who fills the stadium with cheers; who applauds? This is the roar of a God who is for you, not against you. It is the applause of a Father who is your greatest fan; the laugh of a Father delighting in His children. It is an awesome blessing.
Then upon receiving this amazing affirmation, the Spirit of God immediately DRIVES Jesus into the wilderness. Think, pushed, cast-out, no choice, forced, that’s what this means. About all I can say to that is that it stinks!
What is a wilderness experience?
The wilderness is the place where you feel all alone, even if you aren’t. It’s being consumed by a ferocious past or a present that you can’t share. It’s struggling with doubts or rejections or grief. The wilderness is a dry place, filled with sand but no ocean — intense thirst, emptiness. It’s the constant beating of heat that brings great weariness — a marriage that has lost it’s love, the struggles of being a single parent. In the evening you sleep with a little coolness but in the morning, it’s back again. The wilderness is a place where you can loose your sense of direction, wander around in circles asking, “Why is this happening…where am I going? Will this ever end?”
Nobody really seeks wilderness experiences. In fact when they come, we tend to question God’s love for us. So how do we deal with this untamed, undomesticated God who in one breath says, You bring me joy and I love you. And in the next moment drives Jesus into the wilderness. There is a booklet which has been used by God to lead many people to believe in Jesus. It’s called the 4 Spiritual Laws and Law #1 is, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Now I believe God has a wonder-filled plan for my life and it’s a great tool for talking about Jesus, but what if…
The flip-side is also true? God Loves You and Has a Difficult Plan for Your Life.
Not too many Christian best-sellers incorporate that into their title. How to Discover the Difficult Plan of God for Your Life — 5 Easy Steps. Not too many songs about the God who plans to make our lives difficult, and guess what? If he really loves us and is really pleased by us — like he was with Jesus — get ready for wilderness.
Here is the bottom line for post #1 — If you find yourself in the wilderness, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. In fact, it likely means exactly the opposite.
If you want to listen to the whole talk from this weekend, go to (