En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Be My God in the Wilderness

Posted by Scott on June 25, 2009

In 1823, Glass signed on with a crew of trappers heading up the Missouri River to Ft Henry, in southwestern Montana.  Halfway to their destination, Glass, who was about 40 years old, was tracking game when he stumbled upon a mother grizzly and her two cubs.    The bear reared up and dug her teeth deep into his flesh, ripping off large chunks of raw flesh.  His companions came down the path and shot the large six-foot creature through the head and the bear collapsed dead on top of Glass.  The hunters, thinking there was no way the man could live through the night, made him a bed out of buffalo hide and watched for him to die.  However, the next morning, Glass was still alive.  The leader of the mission, Major Andrew Henry, decided that the trappers needed to move out of the hostile Arikara Indian territory and paid two men to stay with Glass in what they thought was his final hours of life.  Glass, however, held on to life.  After three more days, the men paid to stay with Glass abandoned the trapper, taking his knife and his gun.

Glass woke up and found himself alone and unable to stand up and walk.  he began to crawl on his belly the estimated 100 plus miles back to Ft Kiowa.  This crawl was through the middle of the feared Arikara Indian territory.  So, inch by grueling inch, Glass, crawled along and had learned as a young man from the Pawnee Indians how to survive off the land.  He dragged himself through the rough rugged land, getting his strength by eating wild berries and rotting meat from carcusses of buffalo calves killed by wolves.  After nearly six months, Glass crawled into the town of Ft Kiowa.  After a lengthy time of healing, Glass, resumed his life as a trapper again.  It would be a nice ending if he lived happily ever after right, but ten years later while on a trip along the Yellowstone Rive, the feared untamed Arikara Indians killed Glass dead.

A story like this keeps us glued to each sentence does it not?  The trauma, the pain, the desolation, the coldness, then the heat, the spilled blood, loss of flesh, the fear, the loneliness and more are all a part of the wilderness.  People who have survived such traumatic situations in the wilderness have experienced some or all of the traits I mentioned before.  Nearly anyone who found themselves in the wilderness would tell us they really did not think they would come out of it alive.

All of us probably could tell of a story of wondering in the wilderness while setting in the middle of our living rooms, setting in a pew at church, at our desk at the office, or any other day to day place we go.  The wilderness does not have to be hundreds of miles from us, it can be right where we are at this very moment.  The lonely feeling in the middle of twenty friends, the coldness on a ninety five degree day, or the depression before the sun comes up over what most would seem is a great life, all of these expressions and more can infect our very souls when captured in a desolate wilderness that no one can drag us out of or possibly even find us there.

This takes us to another true story from the Old Testament of the Bible.  We find Moses as a young man in his late thirties living life large.  He has everything he could ever want or need.  He has the finest education in the land, can go wherever he so desires.  I would say that Moses was not found “wanting” for anything by today’s worldly standards.  However, Moses found himself growing deeply troubled by the treatment of his blood kinsmen in the land.  He could sense God’s calling on his life to get his people out of Egypt, but how or where.  After the death of an Egyptian soldiers at the hands of Moses, he ran…he ran so far the Egyptians could not find him. 

Moses found himself in the desert wilderness, desolate and starving at a sheep ranch.  The smelly, dirty, rank life of a sheep herder was before him.  So, for forty years Moses went from the top of the business world to tending the backsides of nasty sheep.  The arrogance, self-determination, and self-reliance faded away over the forty years in the desert wilderness.  Moses learned a great deal while in this desolate dry land, but most of all he was pressed down to total obedience to God and ready to take commands and do things God’s way in the release of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity.

God places us in humiliating situations in strange ways, but it is necessary in order for us to understand the importance of total denial of our self and total obedience to His commands.  Self-denial is described in many ways, but most vivid is we are to murder everything about our selves that gets in the way of obedience to God.  Whatever we do, say or think that draws our desires from doing what God wants us to do should be spiritually mortified.  The wilderness experiences of professional trapper, Hugh Glass and God’s commander on the ground in Egypt, Moses, came at what they would tell you a “strange time”.  As Believers, however, we must embrace the wilderness experiences as a purposeful part of God’s sovereign plan.  God’s plan is to use us in the advancement of His kingdom and His greater glory.  We must yield ourselves to this season of life when we feel lonely, traumatized, in horrific pain, bleeding from exposed flesh, so hungry our ribs are showing or thirsty.  The strength, direction, and ability to learn are planted deep within us by God Himself and when needed, He will draw out of that well.

The wilderness in my own life has been a time that God has revealed, through His Word, just how big He really is.  He has pulled me beyond my comforts, pummeled my arrogance to the ground, humiliated me into a corner, and jerked all of my securities not founded in Him from underneath my feet putting me on my back looking straight up to Him.  He uprooted my family, taking our home and placed us in another land.  At times it does get lonely, desolate, jobless, food-less, painful, and emotionally draining.  I have been jerked awake many mornings in a sweat in fear of the unknown followed by days of deep debilitating depression.  I hope to show in future writings just what God taught me in my travels through the spiritual & financial wilderness.  The training ground found in the wilderness yielded such rich spiritual food directly from the hand of God that no silver spoon found in this lush plentiful land of the world are not worthy to deliver it to my mouth. 

I have a favorite saying that I have internalized that has been adapted from John Piper, “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him in the deepest parts of the wilderness.”  I must be found totally satisfied in His glory, His presence, His Being even in the middle of the most traumatic depressing wilderness I could ever imagine. 

The wilderness is not easy, it is not a time of pampered rest.  The wilderness is a working season of life that we are required to trust God more, listen to God more, lay our souls bare, mortify our sinfulness daily, and speak only when God prompts us to do so.  It is a working ranch that smells foul at times, causes us to be sick to our stomachs, can leave your wondering, and may cause blisters on your heart, but at the end of the wilderness is where we meet the foot of the mountains and start our ascent to better lands…our climb to the higher ground of God’s greatest pleasure, His own glory.

-scott bailey (c) 2009

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