We will be concluding the series of devotionals entitled “Man Tracks” today. So far, we have settled on this idea that His Holy Presence resides in the wilderness and it is our mission as a Christian to visit Him their as often as possible. The Church should act as a “gateway” to the wilderness and actively ready the faithful to journey. Furthermore, we need to get off the main road, away from the “man tracks” of our faith and extend our hand to our Guide. We need to let our Guide, the Holy Spirit, lead us by the hand (as a child is led) into His Holy Presence. All of this leads us to today’s final two questions:
-Where is the wilderness?
-How do I get there?
The answer to the first question is actually pretty simple. The wilderness is wherever the world isn’t. That may seem trite, but never the less true. It speaks to a change of context, or a removal from the normal routine into something not normal. We, being creatures of habit, grow comfortable in our normal daily routines. Removing ourselves from these routines can cause anxiety, anticipation, and fear. These emotions are used to teach us to trust the leading hand of our Guide. Often times, this will involve an actual physical place. Jesus, in preparation of His ministry, was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for a period of 40 days. This was a physical change of context. Paul spent time, after his transformation on the road to Damascus, in Arabia…in preparation of his ministry. Again, this was a physical change of context. The disciples left their normal routines to follow Jesus for a period of three years. They left the routine that they knew, for a routine that they didn’t know. There are many more examples of this in Scripture but the premise for all of them is the same…we all need to be taught how to trust, how to follow, how to answer the call. The Spirit leads us into His Holy Presence by taking us out of our normal and leading us into another context which causes us to become uncomfortable. Think of this as the Spirit shaking of the taint of the world, in order for us to enter in.
Mark 10:13-16 says, And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Whenever a child is crossing a busy street, their guide takes their hand to lead them across. Whenever a child is in a crowded marketplace and cannot see beyond the waistline of the person in front of them, their guide takes their hand to offer protection and reassurance. Whenever a child is outside of their normal routine, anxiety builds and fear creeps in, their guide takes their hand out of love an adoration. Brothers…we are no different. The leading hand of our Guide, serves to lead is into His Holy Presence, the very lap of Jesus Christ. A change of physical context will prepare our emotions to seek comfort, protection, guidance, and love. I find these emotions rising within myself when I journey into the wild places where the world falls away. Others may find their hand extended by simply pitching a tent in the back yard for the night, by turning off the TV for a week, or by setting their alarm an hour earlier than normal to sit on the porch in the predawn darkness. The wilderness is wherever the world isn’t, and it needs to be accompanied by quiet.
The answer to the next question, “How do we get there?”, involves this word QUIET. We must be still before the Lord. The physical change of context should result in a certain uncomfortableness, which leads us into submission and surrender to the leading hand of our Guide. Submission to the Spirit happens when we quiet ourselves before the Lord. Jesus said in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, “when you pray” and “when you fast” to do these things in privacy. This doesn’t mean that public prayer or corporate fasting is wrong, it means that these are methods to come to Him as children. When we come quietly, holding the hand of our Guide, we come as a child would come…in submission, in total trust, realizing that we bring nothing to the equation. When our physical context changes, and we go to the Lord in prayer, our focus is different, our thoughts are different, our heart is different. We are more in tune with His Holy Presence because we came as a child would come. When we fast, we purposefully put ourselves in an uncomfortable routine. The absence of physical food makes us rely on the spiritual nourishment of His Holy Presence. Fasting is a method of journeying into the wilderness which is accompanied by prayer and meditation. Fasting helps us shake off the world and focus on the leading hand of our Guide. We get to the wilderness through internal spiritual disciplines. We get their through our study of Scripture, through our meditation, through our fasting, and through our prayer.
I have a buddy who years ago uttered these infamous words, “You can’t shoot a deer from your couch. You gotta get out there.”
He’s right…we gotta get out there. We need to discipline our lives to read Scripture, we need to meditate on the wonders of God, we need to change our context to focus our vision, we need to pray with abandon, we need to humble and quiet ourselves before the Lord with fasting. We need to take the hand of our Guide and let Him lead us into His very near Holy Presence…as children. This is where we are taught how to trust, how to follow, how to answer the call. After we are their, we return bearing His name. We return with the assurance that we have been “adopted as sons”. Just like our children who bear our name, we speak, live, and breathe under His protection, love, and guidance. Now…who wouldn’t want to make that journey into His wilderness over and over again?
Lets go today…!