IN THE WILDERNESS, 14.11.18
Taking Up Your Cross, Bethany House Publishers, 2000, Tricia McCary Rhodes.
Seasons of waiting are often experienced as wilderness, as wandering in the desert, feeling lost, alone, uncertain. They are not the most favoured times amongst God’s chosen. But we all must endure these times of waiting on God during which nothing seems to be happening. Discouraged and hopeless, many fall into despair, and take matters into their own hands; instead of waiting on the Lord, they launch out into the deep, seeking their own solution. It does not turn out well; the individual will have missed out on God’s best, even if it is not a total disaster (Remember King Saul? For him, it was a disaster). “God may require us to watch and wait for what seems like an eternity, but when He acts, He can do more in an instant then we could ever have accomplished had we pursued our own paths” (McCarey Rhodes, p.142). It is always best to wait until we hear from God: “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass”(Ps.37:5).
“God showed Abraham a vast land that would become the dwelling of His people, but it was four hundred years before the Hebrew children actually entered Canaan. He called the young shepherd boy David from the fields to be King of Israel, then made him spend years as a fugitive and outlaw, waiting until he was thirty years old to begin his reign. He gave Joseph his dreams as a young boy, then allowed him to be beaten, imprisoned, falsely accused, and given servant’s status for years before fulfilling the dreams. Prophet after prophet in the Old Testament spoke God’s words of impending judgment, then became laughingstocks or targets of abuse when it wasn’t forthcoming”(McCarey Rhodes, p.141). Then there was Paul who endured years of beatings and persecution, jail time, and execution; and we all reap the benefits of his lengthy season of storm after storm (the only period of real rest he had was during his last period of jail sentence). In the meantime, when we have to wait a few weeks for a request, or specific answer, we seem to think it’s the end of the world that we do not have a definitive answer, and clear directions.
Each one of God’s chosen prophets, priests, or fruit-bearing saints (as referred to above) have had to endure circumstances and extensive periods of waiting and watching and wondering when God would show up; but each time they waited the results paid great dividends in the end. “But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth”(Ps.37:9). God always has our best interests at heart, and He always has the best answer. “For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His saints” (Ps.37:28). If we would but surrender our wait period to the Lord, He will provide the strength we need to persevere, and endure that desert time: “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Ps.27:14).
God also uses that time to draw us near to Him. During that time, if we surrender, in total trust and dependency, viewing it as an opportunity to “Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you” (James 4:8), relying on His strength day by day, hour by hour, to carry us through, we will experience many blessings: supernatural peace, increased intimacy, the reality of His presence, the ultimate gift. We become more intimate during that dry season. Often that is the very purpose of the desert experience, the storm, or whatever form it takes; God wants us to enter into that place of total isolation, where we are all unto Him, crawling into the nail-pierced hands, clinging to Him for every breath. He will sustain and strengthen us; ““But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint”(Isa.40:31).
“He promises to bring solutions beyond imagination: ‘For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides you, who acts in behalf of the the one who waits for Him’(Isaiah 64:4)”(McCary Rhodes, p.142). “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Ps.37:7). “Wait on the Lord, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land”(Ps.37:34). Numerous passages promise God’s ultimate blessings when His people wait for Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not unto your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path” (Prov.3:5,6). The desert season will pass quickly, and evolve into blessings when we walk in these Truths.
Let us be like Abraham who “did not waiver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform”(Rom.4:20,21). Let us be “Trusting in our God who never leaves or forsakes us, we watch and wait” (McCary Rhodes, p.142). “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared” (Ex.23:20). “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:10,11). From Genesis to Revelation, God’s Word carries the same messages, principles, commandments. May we learn to walk in them daily.
© 2015, revised 2016, 2017, 2018, 5th edition by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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