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Surviving Your Wilderness - Tip#6 - Find Noursihment - Part 3

In God’s Kingdom, before the resurrection there must come death. Eternal life rises from a grave just as spring emerges from winter. The key is, we must understand these mysterious, divine ways and believe the word promising life during the season of death. Jesus declared this kind of faith on the cross when He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). So must we. God wants to see if we will believe His Word during the desert season, when He is stripping us of self-sufficiency before He fulfills that Word. If we do believe, that kind of faith gives us the strength to remain loyal to Him – to obey Him – in the wilderness. It keeps us from murmuring, criticising, and worshipping false gods. And it prepares us for the reward of resurrection – entering the Promised Land.

Thus God’s Word becomes our source of nourishment in the desert. For the desert itself will not offer spiritual sustenance to our weary souls. The devil will come during these seasons, point to the wilderness circumstances, and insist that God’s promise is really a failure or that we misunderstood it. But we must resist his temptations. We must not feast on the situation as it stands, but continue to feast on God’s Word by believing and obeying it – even when it seems absurd to do so. Remember: The reason God took us down the route of hard places is to see if we would still believe His Word while there. That’s when it counts. The Word is our nourishment in the desert.

Hebrews offers one more thought about the Word for Christians in the desert. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12 ESV). At first this verse seems oddly placed in its context. The author had been discussing entering God’s rest after a desert season. “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11 NASB). Then suddenly in the next verse, he mentions that God’s Word is sharper than a sword and able to dissect the deepest recesses of the human heart.

The “Word” of God’s promise is a breath of inspiration when He first declares it in Egypt. But when that same Word – declaring “Promised Land!” – follows us into the desert, it becomes a sword that reveals the depths of our hearts. The real intentions of our hearts only become exposed when present circumstances flatly contradict the Word of promise. Only then is it clear if we really trusted God. Only then does that grey, blurry line between soul and spirit focus into a clear, dark line separating two ways of relating to God: on our terms (soul), or His (spirit). In other words, when God’s Word of promise enters the wilderness with us, it accurately reveals whether we are truly loyal to God, or we merely wanted Him to serve our own interests.

It’s easy to trust God’s promises when all is well and we’re in a good mood. But when life’s music descends into minor keys, and dark clouds gather above, God’s Word is more challenging to believe. That’s when it’s tempting to get frustrated and blame God – or at least friends or church leaders – for His Word’s failure to perform. And those are the very moments it becomes clear if we are actually loyal to God as God – at all times, no matter what the circumstances – not just loyal to Him when it serves our selfish interests. Those who are proven to be people of “spirit” may not enjoy everything about the wilderness, but they are willing to embrace it. They know that only in the wilderness can God see if we are truly loyal to Him. Only in the wilderness does God’s Word become a sword revealing our true spiritual grit.

If we know God’s ways, we know that He brings life out of death. As we go through the desert of a kind of crucifixion, we must believe God’s Word that promises life. So let’s avoid Israel’s example of disobedience. Don’t resist God’s Word when it seems contradicted by the wilderness. Feast on it! Devour it by replacing natural thinking with divine thinking, and by continuing to believe it when it opposes your circumstances. That is how to “live” by every word from God’s mouth. That is how to be nourished in the desert.

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