Today I am spending the day reflecting on who God is and remembering the long long journey through my own personal wilderness. My own soiled spaces. My own harsh reality of devastation and despair. Not to be morbid, but to remember how God was my city of refuge in a desert land.
Because of that wilderness, I now have a relationship with God that is like a fertile jungle – lush and evergreen with rich underplanting and vibrant colour and loud birdlife within me that sings and sometimes shouts God’s praise.
I want to testify that God is able – and willing – to meet us in our times of desperation, loneliness and heartache.
Matthew 8:1-3 (BSB)
When Jesus came down from the mountain… a leper came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!”
I remember a day in my wilderness when I read that. It was like Jesus turned on a tap and the water started gushing out. I drank that in as though I'd been drowning. Jesus was w-i-l-l-i-n-g. That brought an assurance nothing else could. It brought me sustenance. I always knew He could but would He, did He really want to? Was I worth it?
Yes! Why? Because of His deep deep love for me. And you.
God is willing. God is committed to our journey and to our healing. He promises He will once again let us lie down in safe places. It's guaranteed. He never leaves us in a place that destroys once we reach out for Him and ask for His help. It may take time to help us out though. Consequences for the way we've lived aren't magically eradicated. We usually work our way out, which takes character development. That's what God's looking for. He is willing - but are you?
Don’t desire to be through the wilderness and the warzone too quickly. If we don’t experience eating in the desert, we won’t ever grow strong enough to live in the land of plenty.
Eating through the wilderness is the process of equipping. With godly blessing comes responsibility. Once we walk with Jesus Christ, we are here to bring God’s kingdom to earth and fulfil God’s plan. The equipping is first of all the capacity to house God within us, and love Him with more extravagance and obedience so that our restoration can be whole. Then we are enabled to reach out and feed others in their restoration, and fulfil the kingdom of God on earth. This is about healing.
Do you know, even in heaven there are trees with leaves of healing?
Revelation 22:2 (CEV)
On each side of the river are trees that grow a different kind of fruit each month of the year. The fruit gives life, and the leaves are used as medicine to heal the nations.
The capacity to house God is not just a by-product of our salvation, it’s an equipping (in part, healing towards wholeness) so that we can love Him better, and live in the fulfilment of His image. From wilderness to lushness.
God isn’t a lesser god, or one of many. God is The God who created us individually, carved out our pathway, and has crafted our destiny. He is a God who will lead us, carry us, prod us and prompt us through every day to get to where He planned for us to be. He is a God who will never leave us or abandon us in our moments or in our seasons or in our wilderness years. He is a God who will encourage us, plant us and establish us. If we seek Him.
God wants to exhort us today to believe that He knows our journey, and molds us to carry the capacity He knows we can handle and wants to see us fulfil. What is man to you?
I have a song going around in my head today. I grew up singing it. The beginning of each verse goes like this:
He brought me to a banqueting table and His banner over me is love…
He set me on a firm foundation and His banner over me is love…
He lifted me up into heavenly places and His banner over me is love…
David speaks about a banqueting table in the presence of His enemies in Psalm 23.
God feeds us in the middle of our battles, while our enemies look on and can’t do anything about it. He gives us nourishment and sustenance. God is for us. We won’t starve or despair in our wilderness if we sit at the table God’s set for us.
Be assured today, if you need this exhortation, God is faithful, just, and He never takes His eyes off you. He prepares a table for you to feed from - in the presence of enemies, because He knows you need the sustenance. So, you better eat.
Psalm 23 (NLV)
The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need. 2 He lets me rest in fields of green grass. He leads me beside the quiet waters. 3 He makes me strong again. He leads me in the way of living right with Himself which brings honor to His name. 4 Yes, even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid of anything, because You are with me. You have a walking stick with which to guide and one with which to help. These comfort me. 5 You are making a table of food ready for me in front of those who hate me. You have poured oil on my head. I have everything I need. 6 For sure, You will give me goodness and loving-kindness all the days of my life. Then I will live with You in Your house forever.