It seems like such a long time that I have been walking in the wilderness. I am sure I am not the only one. I would certainly be interested to hear other people’s stories.
I am in the wilderness; travelling to a new place that God has prepared but totally unsure where this new Promised Land might be.
Everywhere I look there is wilderness and many people wandering through it. We have faith that there is more to come and that there is a promise that we are travelling towards. Yet, all we see is rocky places, stubby growth and the very occasional spring of fresh water bubbling from the ground.
I hope I am not the only one who feels this way.
Every month, Kings Community Church in Braintree gets together for a worship night. It is a good, encouraging time where one or two of our musicians simply lead us in songs and music. We sing to the words and in the Spirit, and we listen for the voice of God in pictures, prophecy, tongues and any other way that God wants to speak.
Last night we met and, although there were only a few of us, the presence of God was wonderful. We sang songs that declared the truth about the character and work of our Father God, and we simply basked in the simple joy of knowing God’s presence. The Holy Spirit made the wilderness melt away as we bathed in an oasis.
What God said to me was simple.
Do not despise the wilderness
He spoke to me of the people of God as they travelled between Egypt and the Promised Land. The wilderness was harsh and water sources were few and far between, but the presence of God was with them. God was closer to them, for longer, during those forty years than at any time before the coming of Jesus.
- For forty years, God’s presence was visible in the cloud and the fire.
- For forty years, God fed them every day so that every person in every family had enough to eat.
- For forty years, God spoke to them directly through Moses.
- For forty years, in the wilderness, the evidence of the love and grace of God was on the people of God. Time and again they complained and sinned and struggled.
- But for forty years, the presence of God was a daily reality for the people of God.
It is not about the wilderness. It is about the presence of God.
As far as I know, whilst God promises to return the years lost to the locusts, he never promises to return the years that were spent in the wilderness. Why should he? Who in their right mind would want to give back to God the years when they were closest to His daily presence?
Please, do not get me wrong; I am not saying that the wilderness is a good place to be. Neither am I saying that Christians should look to remain in the wilderness. What I am saying is this…
The presence of God is a good place to be!
We should not seek wilderness or promise, desert or valley. Rather, wherever we are, we should seek the real presence of God. Our Father loves us and wants to be with us.
I hate being in the wilderness, but I love the simple fact that for these last 3 years I have known the presence and voice of God more palpably than at any other time in my walk as a disciple of Jesus. I will not despise these years in the wilderness, no matter how long they continue, because God is with me. And when I come to the end of the wilderness and step into the promise of God, God will still be with me.
The important thing is this… it is all about the presence of God. It is all about Jesus.
Let me finish with this passage…
“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting’. Anyone enquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” (Exodus 33:7-11 NIV)
I have no problem being like Moses, spoken to face to face as a friend. But I want to be like Joshua, never leaving the tent of God’s presence because I simply want more.
Father, never take your presence from me.