Serve Me in the wilderness

Notes on the Exodus and the journey of the children of Israel towards the Promised land

The protection of Moses life from the beginning was an obvious work of God and his subsequent refusal to conform to the ways and beliefs of Eygpt as he grew up in the palace environment is also another glaring show of the intimate care and involvement of God in his life and ultimately the children of Israel. This is a circling story of great redemption. Redemption comes through great loss because in order to even qualify for redemption something must have a hold on you that needs to be broken and removed. Both steps are important and neither can be left unaddressed. The breaking tears us down, stripping away not just the thing that held us captive, as was for Moses with living in Egypt and being overly confident in his idea of the plan of God to rescue the children of Israel, his brothers. His overly zealous move to kill the Egyptian was a terrible miscalculation of God’s plan and will but served as a pivotal platform to bring God’s intricate pathway of redemption and restoration into effect.

Moses means one who draws forth. The detail that can be traced through this name is incredible. Moses was drawn forth from certain death as a weak infant, he was drawn forth to remain true to his God while living in a pagan land, he was drawn forth through his failure of murdering the Egyptian to the wilderness, he was drawn forth in training as he tended sheep, he was drawn forth to that bush burning with the presence of God to receive his call to go back to the land of all his fear, failure, and trauma, he was drawn forth to become the redeemer of Israel.

Being called or drawn out is a messy journey. All roads that lead us to become more like Jesus will be splattered with the blood and flesh of our old natures, our insecurities, our dreams, us. We cannot know Him deeply while seeking our ways. Being called is being stripped. Laid bare, open, and made weak in the presence of Almighty God. A graphic picture, but a true one. The harder one seeks Him, the more bloody the battle will be. This should come as no surprise because we read it in scripture, we live it daily, and we have had it confirmed from the saints that have walked before us. The story is the same every time, from every heart, that truly seeks Jesus, He is absolutely worth it. Worth everything lost, every tear cried, and everything given up for the sake of Christ. 

The stripping down must take place because every one of us identifies as something we should not. Whether proud and lofty or weak and imprisoned, before the stripping we can’t know how to identify with Christ as we should. That is why in His perfect love He takes it all away, everything we rely on. One by one, He in a zealous love attacks the things that give us false identity or comfort. This is often done in the wilderness.

We think of the wilderness as a barren, lonely, unfruitful place, which to the naked eye it is. But these three things are the necessary ingredients for true rescue and rebuilding to take place. In Exodus 7:16 it says Moses tells Pharaoh, the Lord, the God of Israel says, let me people go that they may serve me in the wilderness. 

So much power and truth in that statement, let them go so they can serve me in the wilderness. We never think of service as something that should or even could take place in any wilderness, cause there’s nothing there! And if it does, we want no part of that, next, please! What purpose can a barren wilderness offer? Well, it’s empty space, which implies two things, the possibility of great growth or untapped resources being present, and the lack of distractions that gives us the opportunity to hear and fellowship with God in a new way. 

Which leads us to the purpose of loneliness. A season of serving in the wilderness can mean a season of being alone. We about can’t stand not being a part of things, you know, included. I know I can’t. So when God stops all our plans from being successful and we end up divinely exiled, we have two choices. Keep struggling against what is an obvious work of the Lord, or give up, and give into Him. This may be hard to swallow, but, yes, God will sometimes hem you in so tight by the world’s standard, you’re alone, and thus, lonely. I have said to myself many times, sometimes I need to be alone so I can understand how to be loved. We will never get the love we are longing for from the world’s inclusion or approval, from the church, or from being a part of the things we decide are important. When it comes to God, giving up can be a good thing. Realizing we are dumb at navigating our lives, and being our own redeemers is a good place to be even when it hurts us emotionally to give up the things we are so tightly holding onto. The sacrifice of our dreams, desires, and expectations is a beautifully painful way to gain access to God’s best. I say painful because these things hurt, they’re supposed to. I’ll interject here that although we hate, fear, and run from any situation that would cause us pain, it is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be, be so often the pain in my life has been the tearing out of the entangled lies, addictions, strongholds, second bests, and false identities that have kept me imprisoned to sin and blind to the God that I now know. The God I know now is stronger than anything I face and I live in comfort just by knowing His constant presence is with me, this is a luxury that I didn’t have before the painful experiences of the tearing away. We live in a fallen world and we struggle with sin, wrong priorities, and the past that constantly tries to intrude into our future. It hurts to grow, to trust, to give up what we want, as we nervously pursue the God of the Bible who often seems distant, hard to understand, and even frustrating.

A wilderness is a barren place that by its nature and design is a place of lack, death, and misery. But a wilderness where God is present is a place of untapped abundance and if we submit, the place we will find our greatest freedom. What a paradox, the wilderness being the place of divine fruitfulness, the place in which we are sent, but with God all things are possible.

 

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