En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for the ‘Wilderness Book’ Category

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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Be My Patience in the Wilderness!

Posted by Scott on June 24, 2009

A billboard once said, “Lord, please make me patient-and do it right now.”

This statement speaks volumes for most of us does it not? We want to be patient as long as we can learn to be patient right now. You know, when we find ourselves in the “wilderness” spiritually it is our tendency to want to hurry about and learn what we need and get back to the fluffy way of life we had before. Our human nature is to tell God “thanks but no thanks” to getting away from our daily routine. We tend to look at the trial as a punishment or a vindication by God for not learning a secret lesson previously. I can tell you from experience in the wilderness myself the trial is not a punishment necessarily, but is a training ground in order to bring our spiritual lives into submission to obeying God in all situations in order to glorify Him and further His kingdom.  The wilderness gets rid of pride, arrogance, and self-promotion leading us to obedience to Christ, submission to the will of God, and a vessel in which God can now use for His purposes.

God is not in a hurry to speed us through these wilderness lessons. Look to Moses as a prime example. He spent 40 years tending sheep in the desert with gritty sand in his hair and chapped lips. Then Moses spent another 40 years wondering around in the desert listening to thousands of complaining grumbling Israelites before he came to the promise land and never was allowed in. So, Moses spent 80 years in the wilderness at the beckoning of God Almighty. I will go out on a limb here to say that God is not in any hurry when teaching us what we need to know.

David is another example of spending a long time in the wilderness running from King Saul trying to stay alive. He ran from cave to cave in the En Gedi region high in the mountains. He moved from desert to desert.  In En Gedi if you remember he was in a cave hiding and while Saul came in to take make waste David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but he was living in obedience to his God.  Then while hiding and running in the desert of Ziph he passed up an opportunity to take Saul then.  Here again David knew that he was not to kill Saul, but took Saul’s spear and water jug as proof he was there.  Even in the desert David was discerning to the obedience God had called him to.  The lessons he learned during this time were priceless to him during his reign as King. David discovered who his God really was during this time. He discovered the ability to trust his sovereign God and that his God was bigger than anyone could ever imagine.

I came across a great statement one time that an older believer once angrily asked his pastor a question, “Why is it God has made me this way? The pastor cracked a gentle smile and replied, “God has not made you-He is still making you”. What a wise statement by the pastor.  As Believers we are all in the the same process…in the wilderness is when it is revealed to us just who our God is and why we must trust and obey Him. The pain and many times the humiliation of the wilderness is where true godly character is formed.  This truth about God’s ways can escape us during these menacing days and weeks or even months we find ourselves circling in the wilderness. However, we can trust that God is patiently and gently molding us into His image and for His greater purposes.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts , neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord….so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

It is in the wilderness that I have found a God that is interested in my obedience to Him. He is actively involved in shaping my thoughts in accordance to His. He is actively guiding me in the direction He intends for me to go. God does work strangely, but it is all in accordance with His sovereign purposes to do as He wills. The wilderness is all a specific part of the training we must go through in this life. Much of the time we do not even discover until much later in life what the wilderness was for, but it was not a time God wasted. He never waste time or events not knowing the end result…He created the end result from the beginning.  He created us and the events we are involved in for a specific task in the future for His greater glory.  We are called out to trust and obey.  If we knew the desert we had to cross to get to the promised land most likely we would never get out of bed in the mornings.  Faith and trust are a must in order to get through each and every day we spend in this life, especially while travelling through a dirty dusty wilderness.

So, patiently and methodically move through this wilderness on the trail God is laying out before you. Try not to rush through each day without at least stopping to place a marker occasionally for future generations to know about your wilderness trip.  As humans we try to escape the pain, humiliation, and the thought of being reconstructed, but remember Who it is that is doing the reconstruction of your life.  To be singled out for such a personal one on one training from God Himself is of the highest privilege we as a Believer could be called to other than preaching and teaching the Word of God. He is specifically tending to your needs, while molding, carving, and shaping your thoughts, reactions, character, and testimony for His future use. Your purpose could be as large as the task Moses undertook with the Israelites or as simple as witnessing to a small child in a remote area of south Africa with no fanfare or anyone knowing about it. Both are worthy of the obedience and sacrifice in order to bring glory to our heavenly Father and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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