“And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” Luke 1:80 (NIV)
Yesterday we looked at how God used the desert experience to make John “strong in spirit.” And we posed the possiblity that He just might do the same to you and me.
Hey, when God wants to make a squash, He takes about six weeks. When He wants to make an oak tree, He takes about twenty years. So, what do you think He is making of you?
It seems He is in no hurry when it comes to the growth of His children. His principle work is that we mature into men and women of Christlike character and conduct in this world. Such maturity demands that we be weaned from a dependence upon spiritual euphoria. Instead of raindrops falling on my head….its rocks!
There comes into our lives by the will of God seasons of spiritual inactivity, boredom, setbacks, frustration and confusion. At issue here is this: are we loving and serving God simply because of how wonderful it makes us feel to do so? Or do our motives have a nobler end? Indeed, shouldn’t they?
As one author wrote, without the desert experience we could very easily settle in a place where we “enjoy the fruits of worshipping God (i.e., our feelings) more than we enjoy the God we worship.” (Gary L. Thomas)
Also, without significant dry times humbling and testing us, it is likely that we would become puffed up with a false sense of our own legendary spirituality.
Can’t you recall those first days of faith when you were born again? All things seemed possible; you were ready to save the world! Then, after the initial season of discovery and delight, didn’t it happen to you as it does to so many others?
First there is a subtle sense of slight spiritual superiority and smugness, followed by the need to let others know just how much you know. This in turn leads to an attitude of judgement and faultfinding with others who, in your opinion, aren’t as devoted as you.
Ah, the desert can put the squeeze on such thinking quicker than anything! And thus, the Lord ordains for us those necessary draughts that we be not so high and mighty in our own esteem.
The Psalmist wrote, “Lord, I am not proud and haughty. I don’t think myself better than others. I don’t pretend to know it all. I am quiet now before the Lord, just as a child who is weaned from the breast. Yes, my begging has been stilled” (Psalm 131:1~2, Living Bible).
God must wean us from a childish preoccupation with our need for nurture, in order to mature us with a compelling sense of destiny and significance.
Nurture and Destiny. These two things must be balanced in our lives or else everything ends up out of sorts. When all we seek is nurture, we remain childish and co-dependent. If all we ever think about is destiny, we become short-tempered and obsessive with achievement.
God wants to balance our lives with nurture and destiny. He must first wean us from the breast and then lean us on His chest. Dry times serve His purpose best in this intrepid transition. This is God’s Prep School for Kingdom men and women.