The Wilderness

I’ve been really encouraged reading through the life of Moses lately. There is something so relatable about this man that finds himself in the wilderness being pursued by God. God has a knack for meeting people in the wilderness, right? He tends to come to people that have isolated themselves out of shame only to reveal Himself to them, remove their shame and invite them into their greater calling. He does this with Moses, with Saul, with David, Peter, and the list could go on and on.

It is in the wilderness that Moses, living as a shepherd, receives God’s call to deliver the Israelites. As I read this passage in Exodus 3, something caught my eye that hadn’t before: 

“And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

It wasn’t until God saw that Moses chose to turn aside to see what He was doing that He called out to Him. How many times have we missed opportunities to hear from God simply because we don’t take the time to stop and see where He is moving and what He is doing?

As he draws near, God speaks to him about His plan to deliver the Israelites. He reveals Moses is the one chosen to lead the way. Moses’ response reveals a complete doubt that God really knows the best way to deliver His people. Living in a place of shame and isolation can make us blind to the true character of God. After some serious debating with God, he reluctantly obeys. A few chapters later we see God lead Moses through 10 instances (the 10 plagues) where he is told to declare to Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free and the consequence if he doesn’t.

For the longest time I thought those plagues were a sign to Pharaoh and the Egyptians about the power of God, but the longer I have meditated on these scriptures and looked at them in the context of Moses’ life, I think these plagues were actually a sign to Moses of God’s faithfulness and character. Following the tenth plague, Pharaoh finally let’s the Israelites go. The Israelites exit and God leads them to the Red Sea. Panic ensues for the Israelites as they realize they can’t cross this mass of water and Pharaoh was on the hunt to bring them back into slavery. They begin to complain and despair, even to the point of dreaming of being slaves again. (Isn’t it crazy how pain and fear can drive us to insanity when we aren’t grounded in the character of God and His goodness towards us?)

As the Israelites’ panic increases what does Moses do? He stands in front of a people filled with fear and declares to them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”

What?! Isn’t the this guy that argued with God in the wilderness? What changed? Moses’ beliefs about God changed. The same Moses that just a few chapters before doubted God, now had seen God’s word proved true 10 times over. Moses was now a man that believed the truth that God’s power and presence was more than enough to lead him to greater obedience and faith. This belief had been shaped by all He had heard from the mouth of God and now seen with His own eyes. Moses, with this deeply rooted belief that God would surely carry out all He said He would, stood in front of a fearful people and declared God would fight on their behalf and that they need not be afraid.

And God delivered.

Maybe you’re in a wilderness season currently. I feel pretty confident to say God wants to meet you there like he met Moses. I believe He can and will reveal areas of unbelief if you’ll let Him. And He doesn’t just want to reveal those areas to shame you, but to reveal what is actually true of Him. He may even call you to step into a new level of faith and you can be confident that as you step out you will only see Himself prove His word to be true over and over. As Moses surrendered to the truths of God led to an entire nation being set free (and generations following), our own surrender can lead to greater freedom for those in our sphere of influence.

What do you believe about His character, His faithfulness and His provision? Do you find yourself clinging to material things and money? Do you find it hard to give when God prompts you to give? Maybe there is a root of unbelief that God will provided all you need. Do you find yourself trying to manipulate or control the people around you? Are you overcome with anxiety when something unexpected comes up or doesn’t go how you anticipated? Perhaps there is unbelief that God is trustworthy, that He really cares for you and that He is good. Do you find yourself in conversations with others consistently drawing the attention to yourself? Could it be that you really believe that man’s approval is worth far more than God’s? That Jesus displaying His overwhelming love towards you through His death and resurrection isn’t really satisfying and if you could just have that person’s approval you’d be set?

Let’s not rush past an opportunity to really sit with this question: What do your actions and affections reveal about your genuine belief about who God is? As you sit and process through this with the Lord, would you let Him help you? Open the Scriptures and ask Him to help you see Him for who He really is and touch on areas of unbelief in your life. Let Him meet you in the wilderness.