At first I heard this word and thought it was a personal call, just to me from Jesus. Then I heard the same word for a friend. Then, as I was seeking out what to share on the #ATLdevo, I heard the same word yet again: WILDERNESS (yes, it’s in all caps because I screamed it while I typed it).
Specifically, I was drawn to the context of a verse [say Mark 1:12] where the Spirit was leading Jesus to a wilderness of sorts. This was promptly after He was baptized by JTB and approved verbally out-loud by God. I think we tend to run with the negative connotation of wilderness, and feel like it’s supposed to be a miserable experience. And we dread the thought of going where the Spirit is leading…
*cue Grumpy Cat*
We refer to deserts, dry seasons, and times of wilderness usually assuming we have to be horribly unhappy and suffering. I don’t think so, not always.
What if there are benefits to such places? Why would the Spirit lead us to a place with no benefits? What does it say of our perception of His character if we assume the worst of His leadings? Oh… uh oh. Chew on that. And we find that there are perks, indeed, when we see that the Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness aka érēmos… check it:
In Greek, érēmos means an uncultivated, unpopulated place; a desolate (deserted) area; (figuratively) a barren, solitary place that also provides needed quiet (freedom from disturbance). In Scripture, a “desert” (érēmos) is ironically also where God richly grants His presence and provision for those seeking Him. The limitless Lord shows Himself strong in the “limiting” (difficult) scenes of life [Thayer’s Greek Lexicon].
And then I see a trend in scripture after this time the SPIRIT LED Jesus to a desolate, solitary place… Jesus started going on His own will. He learned that it was for His benefit… look here:
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone – Matt 14:23….
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate (érēmos) place, and there he prayed. – Mark 1:35
And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. -Mark 6:46
But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. -Luke 5:16
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. -Luke 6:12
If Jesus made it a habit to go physically, mentally, and spiritually to places free of disturbance, do you think He was miserable? Was it a dry, desert season? No. Was He struggling to hear from His Father? Nope. Was it a last resort choice hoping for a breakthrough? Not one bit. I think it was the most fruitful, luscious, thriving place He could find to experience the purest communion with His Father in an uninterrupted and honoring way. It fueled His ministry. It allowed Him to walk in the fullness of the Spirit, which He demonstrated to us as stemming from a relationship cultivated in uncultivated places.
He didn’t wait to need a breakthrough. He went to the wilderness by choice, often. Not dragged by circumstances, not having to pull teeth, to get rejected, to have a total meltdown to get him there. He made it a habit. His Father wasn’t His last resort. Hey, revelation. How often do we reserve the wilderness only for times of utmost chaos, when life falls apart and we are forced there? Jesus didn’t wait to need it, and neither should we. We can have a breakthrough lifestyle, glory to glory.
I pray that during this week you find yourself in the wilderness, but in the best way: by choice, like Jesus. May you find a place spiritually, mentally, and physically where you are free from any disturbance, that you are able to experience a full and rich awareness of the presence of God. And that you proceed to lead yourself there, addicted to the increased awareness of His nearness, found in the mountains, in the wilderness, in the desert, and the loneliest of places. Whatever it takes to prioritize the Lord, go there. Hear and see what He’s doing, then come show the crowds what you learned.
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