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New you - Wilderness moments

As we explore this whole concept of the new, its worth remembering there will still be challenges we encounter, opposition that wants to hunt us down, personal demons we need to confront, walls we need to scale over even when it seems like we are completely out of gas.

A wilderness moment is an interesting moment in time because it determines so much of the new that we may be anticipating. Perhaps much of our effectiveness and our coping mechanism in the wilderness will determine what we receive as new. Its like the saying that goes your attitude determines your altitude.

Wilderness moments are like crucible moments, those moments that test your resilience and focus, those moments that really make you question who you are and why you are, those moments that either refine you or break you.

Here are some things I think we might come across in a wilderness moment

1) A sense of being lost and feeling insecure. There is a heightened level of exposure in the wilderness, I mean its basically a desert, that leaves you feeling exposed. I remember when I finally came to terms with my marriage being over and the reality of raising a child on my own in a foreign country. I felt lost and alone. I had a family who cared and still care deeply about me and a God that blessed me with all my needs yet my thoughts were many time preoccupied with searching for the familiar and hacked dreams of the place I had left behind. This caused a sense of emptiness to surface every now and again. Sometimes our emptiness is exactly what God requires so He can fill us up with His goodness and here we discover there is nothing like His goodness.

2) Thirsty for refreshment. Hungry for food. A deep need for renewal or restoration. When we put this in real life terms, it simply means we are ready for something new in our lives, we are ready for a change of mind. This change of mind could translate into many things. For me it translated into a new sense of value in myself, it translated into new friendships, it translated into new opportunities and new ways of managing my time to suit caring for a baby and prioritising my relationship with God. What really happens in the wilderness is, we hunger for more from our source because we have nowhere else to go to get relief, nothing else works like He does.

3) Almost every place looks the same. In the wilderness you could almost imagine you are going in circles even when you are not. Its really frustrating and also the reason we need God's explicit guidance because He sees beyond the natural and specific to our purpose and need.

Jesus was tempted by the devil who showed him things beyond what the natural eye could see but just because he could see it didn't mean that was where his purpose laid.

We must be really careful the counsel and guidance we receive in such seasons of our lives. Cause we want to enjoy the "right new" not just any "new".

Remember as well, in the dessert, there is a tendency for us to see mirages. According to the Oxford dictionary, a mirage "is an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, especially the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air". Mirages are illusions, what the natural eyes appear to see is not real but you only realise this when you move closer and closer. They have the ability to cause us to start moving in a particular direction because of the perceived level of satisfaction or refreshment we think we will get. These mirages might represent places we have been before, maybe a place where we have been praised or adored or placed on a "spurious" pedestal that fed selfish desires momentarily but in the end left us empty. These mirages often throw us off course. I am not adverse to taking the odd detour every now and again but when the detour is driven by an illusion rather than what is true or real, that could be dangerous to our journey.

4) When we find ourselves in a wilderness moment we are sometimes on the run from something or going after something. For example, David in the wilderness running from Saul, Jesus in the wilderness tempted by Satan while he prepared for His ministry, the Israelites in the wilderness. There is a pursuit, an ardent seeking or a circumstance needing escaped from that could not be endured any longer. In life, we will make hard choices because we need to extract ourselves from a circumstance that is attempting to bury our true authentic self.

5) The temptation of idol worship. I think when it comes to idol worship we tend to complicate things, we look out for shrines and physical altars and other physical evidence of things that are not God. The idol exists in our mind first before we make it physically appear. Very simply put anything that is taking your attention off God and His ways is an idol. Some of us will be shocked to discover that thing is a job, or a spouse or the idea of a spouse or the idea of a relationship or being in love or money because we except these things to make us feel good and absent from the arid conditions of the wilderness ( and sometimes they do but only for a time). What is that idol that could cause a whole lot of distraction and disruption in your camp?

6) There is a red sea that needs parting. Same as in the time of the Israelites fleeing Egypt, the red sea of our life represents something we need explicit and complete delivery from because it stands between us and our promise. I don't know what that red sea is in your life. I do know that God is the only one who can part it because the things that are impossible for a man and not for God. I also know that the crossing of the red sea is a pivotal moment in our life with opportunity for changing our economy, our connections, our spiritual wellness levels because it is a point in time of deliverance. What is the red sea in your life?

Knowing these things about wilderness moments, what should our response be?

1) Remain thankful. God intended the Israelites to pass through the wilderness (a longer and deserted route) because He did not want them to face war in the Philistine country. We ought be thankful for the things God is protecting us from in the wilderness because He knows our level of resolve, He knows the things we are not ready for and in like manner He knows what we are not ready for. Be grateful for the wilderness moments presented to you because they are actually the lesser evil.

2) All you need to know is the character of God. He knows exactly want he is doing, can you trust Him? The ability for you to demonstrate mad trust disarms and confounds the enemy because it would appear you have lost your marbles. The Israelites wondered between Pi Hahiroth and Migdol and the sea then camp directly opposite Baal Zephon. God wanted the Egyptians to think the Israelites where confused but all the while He was hardening the hearts of the Egyptians so they would think the Israelites were powerless and hopeless. There are somethings the enemy does not know but you know and you must continue to grow in the knowledge of that which is the character of your Father.

3) Assume an inner state of stillness. The wilderness requires even more stillness are we pass through it. We must stay constantly in His presence reflecting on His word and what He promised He would do. There are things God might have said to you long ago and like me you might have written theses things down. In the wilderness you might need to pull out those journals and remind yourself of what he has said and indeed promised you not for your glory but for His.

4) Preserve Unity. In the midst of uncertainly and instability it is easy for families and communities to fall apart and lose sight of the vision they once had. The wilderness births opportunities for deliverance from our own selfish desires, learning to trust more in God, it builds our faith if we let it and cleanses us to redirect our thoughts and let go of dead things. One of the dividing factors among the Israelites was the introduction of idols. They always brought division and anarchy. We see this right through to the time of King Solomon. We must act to preserve unity by letting go of dead things and clinging to eternal things.

The wilderness is a sign that you are walking on the periphery of the NEW! Something new is about to show, it already in the works but its about to reveal itself, you are so close.

God said, I will do a new thing, don't you see it (that means its already happening). A way I will make in the wilderness...just like he did for the Israelites those thousand of years ago He does it again today for countless people like you and me. Why? because He is a great big show off that's why, all creation attests to that and we get to share in that glory He puts on display.

So, look out for the red sea. What might that circumstance be in your life? That is the exact place He is about to put Himself on display. Don't you dare turn back now. Move forward!

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