Imagine this: You are standing in the Egyptian desert facing the Nile River. You are looking at a lush paradise growing out of the rich alluvial soil along its banks. Now you turn around 180 degrees. In stark contrast to the greenery you had been looking at, you find yourself staring into the vast Sahara. To the ancient Egyptians the desert was the realm of Set, the dangerous god of chaos.
Again and again on my recent trip to the Middle East, both while walking along the Nile and while looking down upon this ancient river from high above, I saw this stark line that marked the end of the fertile lands and the start of Set’s land. That stark line represents a counter intuitive choice that faces every believer if he or she wants to choose the life God has for them.
The ancient Israelites lived in the lush Nile delta when God first came to them and told them to follow Him into the desert. God told them that if they stayed in their Nile-side home it would result in death for them, but, if they followed Him into the wilderness, it would mean life for them. For all the hardships they suffered in Egypt, it must have been hard for them to believe that the wilderness could lead to life.
But it did, and it did so because it was there, through all its severe challenges, that God shaped them to be His people. There He taught his people to trust Him, with the guarantee that in trusting him they would find the real purpose of life.
Our wildernesses today have the same meaning. The world seduces us with promises to “come and find life.” However, God says that the way of the world is the way of death. It is alluring, but its promises are ephemeral. As a Christian, you can always know that your wilderness, as impossible as it seems, is the place where God is shaping you and teaching you to embrace the true life that He has for you.
— Pastor Tom
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