Read His Words Before Ours!
On any given day, my internet browser tabs featured Indeed, Zillow, Google Maps, and Bible Gateway.
We were in a wilderness.
The season we’d been in was ending, but we had no idea of our next.
I’d like to say I waited patiently for God’s leading, but truthfully, my frequent visits to those tabs proved otherwise. I believed God had a purpose and a plan, but I thought He needed help fulfilling that purpose.
Sometimes, we try to help God along when we mistake a wilderness season for aimlessness. We’re not alone.
Sarah tried to fulfill God’s promises through Hagar and Ishmael. (Genesis 16)
Bewildered by Jesus’ arrest, Peter offered his assistance with a sword to an ear. (Matthew 26:47-54)
Israel’s king, David, faced the same temptation of treating his wilderness season as a maze to be escaped in order for God’s will to be done.
It started with a promise.
The prophet, Samuel, anointed David king as a young man, signifying God’s promise he would reign over Israel. (1 Samuel 16:1-13)
Then came the problem.
Saul grew jealous of David and attempted to kill him. (1 Samuel 18) Not just once, either. Saul persistently persecuted David, even as David made no attempt to usurp his promised throne. Saul didn’t like God’s will, so he fought against it, chasing David . . . as if he could change God’s promises.
So David entered the wilderness, figuratively and literally. Stuck between God’s promise and the life-threatening problem of a murderous king, David spent years fleeing and hiding. Nothing was settled, nothing was certain. He wandered about in God’s will, and there was great temptation to find a way out.
We see the temptation most clearly in 1 Samuel 24:1-15. Saul entered a cave to relieve himself. David and his fighting men were already there, hidden away. The men told David, “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’” (1 Samuel 24:4) It would have been so easy to attack Saul, take the throne, and fulfill God’s promise to David by force. One could even argue it was self-defense, since Saul was there to kill David without cause!
But David didn’t.
“He said to his men, ‘As the Lord is my witness, I would never do such a thing to my lord [King Saul], the Lord’s anointed.’” (1 Samuel 24:6)
David was God’s anointed too, but even in the desperation and temptation of the wilderness, he recognized a way out wasn’t God’s will. He left it up to God to fulfill His own promises. No shortcuts. No “helping” God along. No hurrying God’s perfect timing.
This wilderness season proved great preparation for David when he became king. He’d learned to wait on God’s will, to not fight a battle God hadn’t called him into, and to leave the building of the temple to his son as God instructed, to name a few examples.
We see David’s wisdom and trust in God’s will being fulfilled God’s way throughout his kingship. When David died, having reigned as Israel’s greatest king and whose family line would lead to the Messiah, he could look back on the testimony of his life and rest in full assurance God keeps His promises. (Psalm 37:25-31)
Jesus, our promised Messiah, lived out God’s will, God’s way.
Even in His own wilderness experience.
In His wilderness, Jesus was tempted by Satan, who said, “I will give you all these things [the kingdoms of the world and their splendor] if You will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:9)
Satan tempted Jesus with a quick escape to fleethis wilderness and avoid the horror of the cross. Satan lured Jesus to skip ahead to His reign without enduring the pain the wilderness required in order for Christ to become our Great High Priest, able to identify with us in all our weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Jesus said no, and, like David,
persisted in waiting for God to lead Him out of the wilderness and fulfill
in His timing.
He was prepared, having overcome temptation, to say, “My time has not yet arrived” (John 7:6) over and over. He was able to say “no” when a huge crowd of followers attempted to forcefully make Him king. (John 6:15) As a result, Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, making a way for us to be reconciled to God, all according to the plan of the Father. (John 5:19)
David and Jesus’ examples of waiting in the wilderness encourages us to “Stop fighting, and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10-11). We can resist the temptation to “help” fulfill God’s promises apart from God.
Having moved multiple times, I can clearly see the difference it makes when I count on God to lead me instead of all those Google tabs! Be assured, sisters, He has, and always will, bring us where He wonderfully intends without any “help” from us.
When we feel stuck in the wilderness, caught between the promise and the fulfillment, let’s wait with teachable spirits as we turn our hearts toward the One who will lead us home!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!