OUR PAST IS LEFT BEHIND IN THE WILDERNESS OF GOD’S GRACE
“The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.” — Billy Graham
Is this a wilderness time for you? Are you forcing God to track you down in the desert of your own plans and failures? In the desolateness of your sin and regret? In your wanderings into the ways of the world?
Our God sometimes walks us through wilderness times so that we might find Him. We often wander as one without hope, weary and burdened. The heat is more than we believe we can bear. The sands of the desert seem to go on forever. Yet we have One who desires to show His grace to us in the wilderness. Our Heavenly Father longs for us to return to Him.
“For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.” — Deuteronomy 2:7
God longed for His chosen people, the Israelites, to find Him in their wilderness wanderings. It was His endurance test for His beloved ones. When they doubted God’s guidance and protection, He kept them under His cloud by day and fire by night. When they questioned His ability to provide, He gave them manna, the bread of heaven. When they complained that they had no meat as in Egypt, God sent quail in abundance.
God showed compassion and benevolence toward His chosen ones throughout their time of wilderness training. Yet they grumbled that they wanted to return to Egypt, to their former life of servitude to Pharaoh. They questioned the leadership of Moses, the one chosen and anointed by God. They even doubted God’s presence with them, and begged Aaron to build them a golden calf to worship.
What began as an 11 day trek became a 40 year wilderness experience. It was a time marked by questioning, complaining, doubting. This generation of Israelites reaped the consequences of their lack of faith in God. They were denied the privilege of entering the Promised Land. They failed to see the grace of God in the wilderness and return to Him.
“I led them with cords of kindness, with ropes of love; I lifted the yoke from their necks and bent down to feed them.” — Hosea 11:4
Our wilderness times should not cause us to forget who we are and Whose we are. Through Christ, we are God’s chosen ones. He longs for us to return to Him. He wants us to recognize and welcome the grace He offers us in our desert wanderings. As we come to fully comprehend the absolute mercy of our God, we will not be tempted to return to our old lives of sin.
God shepherded His people, Israel. He will be our Shepherd in desert times. He will lead us, guide us, protect us as we look to Him. He will be our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, as we accept His bountiful provision. He will destroy the golden idols that take the place of Him, and will become the Sovereign ruler of our lives. We dare not miss God’s presence with us in the wilderness!
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt.” — Jeremiah 31:3-4
During our desert journey, our loving Father strips away all that has kept us from Him. All our idols of pride and self-sufficiency, materialism and covetousness, sinful desires and worldly ways. He forever erases our dead ends, our wrong turns, our aimless wanderings. Our past is left behind in the wilderness of His grace. In Him, we are renewed and rebuilt.
God desires to strengthen our faith in these desert times. He longs for us to persevere, trusting Him for direction, protection, provision. He desires that we yield to His sovereign rule in our lives. If we believe God for who He is, we will develop a steadfast, enduring faith in Him in our wilderness trek. It is in following hard after God that our spirit finds its home, for He is our Home.
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” — Exodus 33:14
We may be wilderness wanderers at times in our lives. The more vast the desert, the deeper our faith will grow if we do not give up. God’s oasis awaits us at our wilderness journey’s end. He draws us with His everlasting love. It is an oasis of rest, of compassion, of hope.
Our Savior has walked this path before us… and He walks with us on our wilderness treks. As we stay close to Him, He will see us through. He is our grace in the wilderness.