Lessons From the Wilderness - Recognizing God

We go to the wilderness to hear God. This is the tradition of people from the beginning. When life gets chaotic and noisy, they retreat to the wilderness to find peace and quiet. Moses discovered God in the wilderness and took Israel into the wilderness to meet God. Jesus began his ministry with a time in the wilderness meeting with God. Jesus took his disciples through the wilderness and taught them along the way. He invited Peter, James, and John up on the mountain where they experienced his transfiguration and God said, “This is my Son, listen to him!” History shows us that the wilderness brings clarity for listening to God. Paul went to the wilderness for prayer after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. Christian’s continued to retreat to the wilderness to reconnect with God in the centuries to come. 

We can learn a lot about retreating to the wilderness to hear God. To know God. To commune with God. The wilderness is where we learn to be still, silent, and to listen to God. With all of this in mind, we learn another great lesson from the wilderness: the wilderness is not the only place where God is willing to meet you. 

One of the hardest things about God is that he cannot be tamed no matter how hard we try. We want God to show up when we want him to and how we want him to. We want to be the author of our story rather than allowing God to be God. We do not like the unknown so we do everything we can to domesticate him. When you approach scripture, do you start by asking God to reveal himself to you? Or, do you approach scripture to reaffirm what you already know about God? 

When we spend time in the wilderness, getting to know God, we discover more deeply who we are as Daughters and Sons of God. We also learn how to listen to God every day. We learn to hear his voice and discern it through the chaos and noise of this world. The wilderness tunes our ears and eyes to see where God is working so that we will meet him in those spaces. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the mountain to show them the future reality in the present. When we look to Jesus’ resurrection, the resurrected Christ, we hear the echoes of God’s voice, “LISTEN TO HIM!” The resurrection shows us what is to come. Seeing Christ in his Glory helps us to see where God is working to bring redemption. To say it differently, God is working to bring the world to glory. When we look at Christ in glory, we develop the eyes to see where God is working towards glory. 

This Sunday, we’re going to look at the other person with Jesus in the transfiguration: Elijah. Look at the end of Elijah’s ministry and see what we need to learn about recognizing the presence of God where we are. If Elijah had the eyes to see where God was working, how would his responses be different to his circumstances? There are two great stories at the end of Elijah’s ministry that change how they are read when they are read as one story. Set aside some time to read and reflect on 1 Kings 18:16-19:19. 

Where does Elijah go when he flees? 

Why does he go there (Think about this for a bit)?

What happens along the way?

When Elijah encounters God on the mountain, does he change?