Compelled to go. By the Spirit.
The Man pauses. Stretched out before Him lay breathtaking, yet stark, views of chalk hills and ancient cliffs, towering mountain peaks and planar plateaus.
A few rivers braid their way through the landscape, weaving between the rolling hills, which, over time, carved out deep canyons and wadis.
He looks back over His shoulder as He leaves the lush Jordan valley. A sense of uneasiness washes over Him but soon dissipates. Beginning His trek, He follows the trails into the wilderness. A difficult way, fraught with unknown rebels, hermits, and zealots hiding in the cliffs and crevasses. Those who prey on lone, unprotected travelers. Just as the wild beasts do.
Yet, He is all alone. Deprived of all things. With the exception of His Father.
Climbing the rough terrain, especially in sandals, proves to be arduous. As He stumbles over the rocky slopes and splintered ridges, He keeps a watchful eye for lions, bears, and other roaming wild beasts of the desert.
The floor of the desert heaves up its heat around his sandaled feet while the sun beats down upon the top of His head. The winds pick up, whipping a wave of heat around Him. Tired, He stops to rest.
Soon, the moon rises and the horizon fades into the background, dulling the grandeur of the desert’s stark beauty. The temperature begins to drop. Stinging scorpions scurry out of hiding and dart across the still blistering, sandy soil. Venomous snakes slither over the warm rocks.
The Man seeks shelter for the night, a refuge from the surrounding peril within the rugged landscape. Finding a hollowed out grotto, He settles in for protection.
For forty days and forty nights, He does this. “And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward…He was hungry.” (Luke 4:2b NKJV) No food. No water. Cracked lips. Parched throat. Empty stomach. Weakened muscles.
“And the angels ministered to Him.” (Mark 1:13b NKJV)
Sometimes, we are in the wilderness. Among the wild beasts. Among the stinging scorpions and the slithering snakes. Of life.
Sometimes, it is self-inflicted. Sometimes, it is a place of deciding obedience. Sometimes, a place of no food. No water. Cracked lips. Parched throat. Empty stomach. Weakened muscles. To bring us to the end of ourselves.
Are we sometimes compelled by the Spirit to enter the arid and lonely wilderness in order to be tested? The testing proves one’s worth and fitness to serve.
We all hunger in the wilderness at one time or another. We all stumble through it. Feet hot from the blistering way. However, when deprived of all things, we still have the Father!
If you are in a wilderness right now, I pray God sends His angels of mercy to strengthen you, uplift you, encourage you, nourish you, and provide for you. May you “feed on His faithfulness,” that your aridness be quenched from the well of Living Waters and your hunger be satisfied with the Bread of Life.
(Hos. 13:5 NLT)