Janet Smith – 4-19-2022 ©gardenministries.org
Deuteronomy 8:2, 16 CSB Remember that the LORD your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that he might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 16 He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper.
Luke 12:32 CSB Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.
Mark 1:9-12 CSB In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.” 12 Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan
The purpose of the wilderness is to give God’s children every opportunity to yield their free wills in obedience to the Father through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus modeled the way through. From the wilderness to the garden to the cross, Jesus submitted to the Father’s complete work of testing and trials. In every opportunity, Jesus yielded His will to the Father. Each choice Jesus made reveals each choice we will make to overcame sin, self, and the devil.
These opportunities are the necessary tests and trials we will need to fully mature in humility. Father’s mature sons and daughters are completely dependent on Him. The humility of complete dependence and a fully yielded will are what empower God’s family to righteously steward His eternal inheritance of Christ formed and manifest within them.
Because Jesus made the way for us to become sons of our Father through His blood sacrifice on the cross, Revelation 12:11 promises that we too can overcome and conquer satan’s wicked plans for humanity and earth. We overcome our own selfish pride and satan’s evil plan for our life through obedience to God’s Word that prunes us and keeps the fire of first-love for Jesus stoked.
Revelation 12:11 NASB And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death
The danger of the wilderness is when we lose sight of its purpose and forget the goal of enduring its hardships. The goal of passing these tests is to humble us so that we are ready to receive what the Father delights to give us—the fullness of His Son Jesus and His glory and His kingdom—forever.
The only way to survive the wilderness is to keep the home-fires of love for Jesus burning bright. If we continually seek God’s face, He will bring us opportunities to overcome. We overcome every time we choose to humble ourselves under His mighty hand when He exerts His Lordship over our life and we see our own selfish responses rise up. When opportunities to turn to God, obey His Word, and abide in Him are presented, and we humble ourselves by choosing to turn to Him, the power of selfishness is weakened and the love of God grows stronger.
Everything given to us is from God. The only thing we have to give to God is our yielded will. Every time we yield our will to the Father’s will, another layer of fear, doubt, and unbelief is pruned and cut away from our heart—our trust center.
Slowly but surely, with every choice to yield our will to the Father’s will, the Spirit of Truth prunes and frees our hearts from sinful, self-centered bondage, and imparts the freedom to intimately know Jesus and understand His ways, so that we can love Him all the more.
And this is the grand purpose of the wilderness: to enable us by the Holy Spirit to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind and, by extension, love the people God brings into our life, the way that God loves them. Mature and humble, we will emerge from the wilderness, leaning on our Beloved husband, filled with His glory and shining forth His Name!
Song of Songs 8:5a, 6 CSB Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on the one she loves?… 6 Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death; jealousy is as unrelenting as Sheol. Love’s flames are fiery flames — an almighty flame!