Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Download MP3 (right click to save)
My friend Jim loves to wear this shirt that says, "I've been to the wilderness". That's what it says on the front. On the back it says, "I can handle anything." Sounds a little cocky maybe, but he did earn the right to wear the shirt. He went out on a two-week wilderness program where they pushed him, and all those on the trip, to go way beyond their limitations. Running for miles, climbing for hours with a heavy backpack, living off the land, blazing trails, enduring the heat, going solo for two days with almost nothing to live on. Hard? Yes. Fun? Not particularly. Worth it? Ask Jim. Or, better yet, read his shirt. "I've been to the wilderness. I can handle anything!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Wonderful Thing About Your Wilderness."
Our Word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 4:1. "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days." Now, Satan's trying to exploit Jesus' vulnerability and detour Jesus from God's plans. But Jesus is withstanding him every step of the way by answering with the Word of God through these three macro temptations.
And then picking up again in verses 13-15, "When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left Him until the next opportunity came. Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit's power. Reports about Him spread quickly through the whole region." Jesus had been to the wilderness. And from those dark days, He emerged ready to handle anything. He came out of His wilderness experience in the power of the Holy Spirit. And that power exploded across the country as Jesus healed the incurable, stopped a storm with a word, evicted demons, and magnetized thousands with His message. But first, He had to go to the wilderness.
So do you. My friend would tell you that surviving the wilderness is not easy. He didn't do it because he wanted aching muscles and total fatigue. He did it because he wanted the strength that he could gain only by making it through the wilderness.
Jesus didn't choose the wilderness anymore than you or I do. The Bible says He was led by the Spirit there. God decides when it's time for a wilderness experience in your life. And as Je-sus experienced, it's a time when there aren't many resources, when the only voice you seem to be able to hear is the voice of the evil one, when you feel all alone or when you feel sometimes like you can't go on. But those are the very dynamics God uses to make your life more powerful than it's ever been before.
Because you're out of resources, you get to see how big God is, because everything else is out of the way. It's in the wilderness time that you see how much you can handle with the very big God you discovered there. It's more than you ever dreamed you could handle. It's in the wilderness that you can finally see what really matters and what really doesn't. Your struggle forces you deeper into the holiness of God, the power of God than you've ever been before. And when you come out of the wilderness, you really know "You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength" (Phil. 4: 13).
It's the deserts of your life that turn you from being a wimp to being a warrior. And there is no shortcut through or around the wilderness in that process. There wasn't for Jesus and there isn't for you. If you're in the wilderness right now, would you step back for a moment and see what it's really for? It's God's school for a warrior, a place to know Him and to know yourself more than you ever have be-fore.
And then, when you face the stresses and obstacles that may have once defeated you, you can show them your shirt. "I can handle this. I've been to the wilderness."