The Wilderness continually calls God’s followers to slow down, listen, and learn about a relationship with God. As we’ve journeyed through this series, I’ve tried to point to some lessons we learn from the Wilderness. We’ve centered on Jesus’ prayer and fasting before starting his ministry (Matt 4:1-11), Jesus’ transfiguration where we are told to listen to him (Matt 17:1-13), Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:5), and Elijah’s journey to the Mountain of God (1 Kings 19:1-18). Each of these wilderness stories have taught us a few lessons:
Jesus fasting and praying for 40 days in the wilderness before starting his ministry teaches us to retreat before moving forward. Slowing down takes discipline. When we slow down, we present ourselves to God to ask him, “What statement do you want to make with my life?” – Tim Vanderbeek.
In Jesus’ baptism, he receives the Holy Spirit and God’s voice saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16-17). His identity of being Son of God, the Holy Spirit within him, his time in prayer for 40 days, and having scripture written on his heart is how he overcame the temptations of Satan. We have all of these things at our disposal as well. You are a Daughter/Son of God. Live out of that reality.
Jesus’ transfiguration gives Peter, James, John, and us a glimpse of what is to come in the Resurrection. When Christ is glorified, we see that we too will be glorified with him. We learn lessons from Moses and Elijah, who were with him at the transfiguration, but it is Christ who remains forever and therefore, we listen to him. Listen to him.
Moses encounters God in the burning bush. We learn that God promises to be with Moses and that is enough. When Moses wants to know who God is, God points to the stories of the past. When Moses is still unsure, God points to what is in Moses’ hand. God is God of the past, present, and future. We learned that when we loosen our grip on our things and hand them to God, he will reveal himself to us through how our things can be used for his glory. What’s in your hand?
Elijah has the greatest experience in his life on Mt Carmel in 1 Kings 18. When things didn’t go as he planned, he fled to the place where he knew God would show up. He went to the Mountain of God (Mount Sinai/Horeb) where God met with Moses 500 years before. When Elijah arrives on the mountain, he is completely unchanged by his experience. We learned that God was with Elijah all throughout his journey through the wilderness and Elijah never recognized him. If you cannot recognize God in the valley, you’ll be unchanged when you experience God’s presence on the mountaintop.
This week I want to introduce you to a Brother of ours from Haiti who embodies the lessons we’ve learned from the wilderness. He and a few others have a deep love and passion for their people and have given their gifts to God to use to reveal himself to everyone they meet. I had the pleasure of meeting Wilguens a few years back and Tim Debbie have known him for a while now. We are excited about the work they have dreamt about and have begun to put into practice in Haiti. I pray that you will come Sunday, ready to learn from and be encouraged by this Brother of ours.