IF I ENCOUNTER RESISTANCE, AM I OUT OF GOD’S WILL
Jesus in the Wilderness of Temptation,
Moses in the Wilderness of Brokenness.
We’ve all heard clichés such as, “Where God guides, He provides” or “What God ordains He sustains.” And while there is an element of truth in trite adages such as these, they can often give a false impression that if someone is in God’s will, everything will be easy. This misunderstanding can cause a person to constantly question God’s call and His will. What happens when the bank account is empty and challenges arise on every side? Do we then conclude that God is not with us? Should we turn back or quit when the going gets rough?
Following the call of God does not guarantee that we will not encounter difficulties and hardships. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble” (NIV). Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12 that everyone who lives a godly life will suffer. But in the midst of the suffering there is peace, and every difficulty we encounter shapes our character and brings us closer to God.
Many people are familiar with the verse, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). But many do not realize that when the apostle Paul penned those words, he was actually talking about suffering and hardships. He was saying that even these difficulties work together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose. Being in God’s will does not guarantee that we will evade trouble and adversity, but it does guarantee that every trial we face will be an agent of God’s love, actively working for our good in the end!
The Scriptures are full of stories about “wilderness” experiences great men and women of God endured. The accounts of their hardships and difficulties are not simply incidental digressions. They are central elements of their stories because God used the wilderness to transform these ordinary people into heroes of the faith. Jesus in the Wilderness of Temptation In Luke 4 we read about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness Verse 1 says, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
” As I have already pointed out, Jesus was not led into the wilderness by the devil. The verse says He was led into the wilderness by the Spirit! Many times when we find ourselves in a wilderness experience, we immediately begin rebuking the devil. But it may actually be God leading us into the wilderness. Why would God do this to us? Why would He do this to Jesus? It is because of the next thing I would like to point out in Luke’s rendition of the temptation story.
Luke 4:1 says that when Jesus went into the wilderness, he went in “full of the Holy Ghost.” But at the end of the story, when Jesus came out of the wilderness, it says, He “returned in the power of the Spirit.” There is something about the wilderness that produces powerful men and women of God. The wilderness is God’s training ground, and it is often a prerequisite for promotion! Even Jesus had to go through it.
It is one thing to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have the potential to do great things for God. It is another thing altogether to have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and to emerge victorious on the other side.
There is a big difference between an army cadet in basic training and a battle-hardened veteran, between a new recruit and a war hero who has been tested and tried, and has earned his stripes and scars with valor. When you have been through the crisis of faith and experienced God’s provision and power, when He has brought you up out of the miry pit and set your feet on the rock. When He has proven His faithfulness to you, over and over again, you will emerge from the wilderness knowing and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit that is within you.
Moses in the Wilderness of Brokenness
Moses was chosen by God to be Israel’s deliverer. He was protected from an infanticidal massacre and then adopted into the royal family of Egypt. He grew up in Pharaoh’s palace, eating first-class delicacies, learning from Egypt’s foremost tutors, and enjoying the finest luxuries. One look at this strapping young prince, and anyone could see that he was the perfect choice for a grand assignment. But this fine young man, ideal by every human standard, lacked one prerequisite for his providential mission. So God enrolled him in the school of brokenness and sent him to the wilderness, where Moses spent the next forty years of his life.
Sometimes God has to break us down so He can rebuild us His way. And often the more impressive the edifice of our own making, the longer and more painful is the process of dying to self and surrendering to God. Moses ran into the wilderness as a proud prince and came out as a humble prophet. He may have thought his life was over the day he escaped to the barren backside of the desert, but little did he know this would mark a new beginning.
Forty years of wilderness wanderings would culminate in a fateful conversation with a burning bush that would change the course of history. It was this meekest of men to whom God spoke face-to-face, as a man speaks with his friend, and guided with fire and cloud. It was this stuttering vagabond to whom God gave tablets of stone that He engraved with His own finger. It was this wanted fugitive whose face shone with the glory of God when he came down from Mount Sinai. It was this broken prince who was used to part a sea and deliver an entire nation from slavery.
Just before Moses died he sang a song over Israel and said, “He [the Lord] found him [Israel] in a desert land, in the howling void of the wilderness; He kept circling around him, He scanned him [penetratingly], He kept him as the pupil of His eye” (Deut. 32:10, AMP). Moses and countless others – including Jesus Himself – passed through the wilderness as they followed the call of God. The difficulties they encountered and the trials they faced were all a part of God’s plan, and were used to accomplish God’s purpose for their lives.
Being in God’s will does not mean there will never be setbacks or that we will be immune to difficulty. But even in the midst of the wilderness God will spread His wings over us, and keep circling around us, as an eagle flutters over her young. He will keep us as the apple of His eye, and He will never allow us to drown.
Stand firm and stand strong today. Go back to the last thing God spoke to you about and stand firm on that Word until He tells you otherwise. He uses every season to mold and shape you further into His image. Remember, He is always watching over you.