In your efforts to seek God, have you ever felt that the way seemed more difficult than it should have been?
When you prayed for more of God, did it seem like things actually got worse, at least for a time? When you prayed for blessings, did trials and battles show up instead?
Don't be alarmed! This is what we like to call the "desert experience!"
This concept seems to have all but faded from church theology today, at least in America. More often we teach that knowledge is the key. If we can just learn to master certain principles, all will go well and we will be happy and prosperous. These principles can be learned simply by listening to sermons, reading books, watching videos or attending conferences.
Don't misunderstand. These can be helpful tools and should be a part of our Christian lives.
But there is another piece to the puzzle - the walk through the desert! If we are to truly take hold of God and experience Him more fully, the path always leads through the desert!
NORMAL GROWTH Initially God will bless us through the prayers of others. New believers, just like newborn babies, are fed by others and blessed by the work of others. But at some point, God will challenge us to grow!
In a normal household, an infant is carried, fed, bathed and clothed. A toddler is asked to pick up his toys. As he grows, he must learn to tie his own shoes. Later he is sent to school. Our goal and expectation for our children is that they will one day grow to become productive members of society. Feeders instead of being fed, problem solvers rather than problem creators and meeting needs instead of being overly dependent on others!
Each step of growth a greater challenge is presented. We cannot grow without a challenge. our muscles cannot grow without exertion. In the beginning, abc's and "stick people" drawings are applauded but eventually more is expected!
THE PATH OF THE GODLY! You are not alone! Great men and women of God became great because they walked through the desert!
Abraham was sent by God to an unknown place in the desert. He obeyed God and it was not until twenty-five years later that the son God promised him was born!
Moses was forty when he expected to be the deliverer of Egypt. (See Acts 7:25) Instead, he was forced to flee from Egypt and travelled through the desert to Midian. He was not actually called by God until he was eighty!
David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to replace Saul as the King of Israel. However, after being anointed and knowing he was to be king, David spent most of his time running for his life in the desert rather than issuing commands from a throne!
Jesus was in the temple at the age of twelve asking questions and discussing God with the teachers. But it was not until the age of thirty that the Spirit came on Him to minister! Even after that He was first led to the desert where he endured forty days of intense fasting, prayer and temptation before He began the most powerful ministry the world has ever known!
Great men of God have always become great through trials, testings and tribulations which challenged them to the core!
We must note that it was not the adversities that made them strong!
We can easily observe that problems in life drive many to insanity, discouragement or destruction. Adversity does not automatically result in growth!
What made these men of God strong is that they continued to walk, step by step, toward the promises of God, obeying God's commands and drawing closer to Him. In each decision, they chose to walk by faith and trust in God! At each crossroad, they chose the path that God ordained for them rather than their own path - even if that path was by the way of the wilderness!
If you are honestly, wholeheartedly seeking God today, may I encourage you to keep walking - one step at a time, always choosing God's ways and not your own!
If you look around and seem to see nothing but desert and no hope for change, keep going! The desert is not your final destination. It is merely a passageway to the blessings of God and the promised land in your life!
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