It is critical in our increasingly urban world for people to have opportunities to meet Jesus through wilderness experiences. Wilderness ministry is about connecting people to Jesus Christ through outdoor adventure. Here are three things that people yearn form that can be found in the wilderness.
1. WILDERNESS EXPERIENCES PROMOTE A SUSTAINABLE PACE TO LIFE
People today are yearning to be freed from the chaotic pace of modern life. Busyness has only deepened our starvation for experiences that cause true transformation. Time in the wilderness helps people find more peace and productivity by imitating Jesus’ rhythm of retreat. Jesus regularly withdrew by himself or with his disciples to have some time to rest, renew his mind, pray, and prepare for the work ahead. He didn’t burn himself out and he didn’t impose a pace on his disciples that burned them out either. Time “on the mountain” offers this rest and renewed perspective that we need to make our work productive back at home “in the valley”.
2. WILDERNESS EXPERIENCES HELP US LET GO OF BURDENS
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
Burdens are a part of life. How we carry them is what matters. As hectic as our modern world seems, first century Palestine also had distractions and burdens that were equally concerning. For example in the times of Jesus, there were distractions of poverty and false religions. There were also weighty religious burdens of Pharisaical laws and political burdens of bitter Roman occupation. So how did Jesus address this? As Jesus looked into the culture of His day He settled on a surprising strategy to change the world: He chose a group of young Disciples, and He used time in the wilderness with them as His primary classroom. Jesus often took his disciples out into the wilderness for some time to talk about what burdened them. And in the context of the distraction-free wilderness experiences, he was able to settle his disciples down and take their burdens from them so they could run free as world-changers in a culture that desperately needed their message of Good News.
3. WILDERNESS EXPERIENCES FREE US FROM THE TRAPS OF ENTITLEMENT
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
God has always used wilderness experiences to draw out the best in people by confronting their fears and exposing the insidious traps of entitlement. If you rarely take time to retreat and ask the Lord to search your heart and show you your sin, then you are likely building your life on the sand of entitlements. And entitlements always disappoint. Jesus knew how enticing entitlements were so he used the wilderness with His Disciples to sever those worldly entanglements that choked their faith.
MAKE A CHANGE NOW
- Is busyness causing your soul to starve for what it was made for? Get outside into Creation for some solitude with God and ask him, “Lord are you asking me to do all of this stuff, or is my schedule a reflection of idols in my life?”
- What is something that is burdening you right now? Take some time this week to go for a quiet walk outside away from the noise and distractions of the city and ask the Lord to take your burdens and ease your yolk.
- What are three things you feel entitled to? According to God’s Word, are you really entitled to those things? Have you sunk into a trap of ungratefulness or fear because you believe you are entitled to things that God has never promised you?
If you see the need for a healthy “Wilderness Quotient” in your life, then please do keep reading my blog, and/or pick up my book on Christian Outdoor Leadership for practical ways to develop a rhythm of retreat.