7 WAYS WILDERNESS MINISTRY CAN IMPACT YOUR CHURCH As a fellow pastor, mission leader, and dad, I want to share 7 reasons why youth pastors, men’s and women’s ministry leaders who want to be on the cutting edge of reaching the culture will prioritize wilderness trips:...read more
Creating Space for God to Fill You through Wilderness Time
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. -Jesus (See Matthew 13:44)
Jesus was unlike the teachers of his day in that he made his points crystal clear without loading religious duty on the backs of people. He did not speak about the Kingdom of God as some complex philosophy that only some could understand after long hours of study or meditation. No, he tells stories that little kids understand. Imagine hiking out in some pristine valley and tripping over a handle sticking up out of the ground. You dig a little bit and discover that it is a treasure chest of gold bullion. Then, noticing that this remote ranch is for sale, you go back into town, sell everything you have and buy the farm from the land and title company. Isn’t that what anyone would do? Yes, methinks so.
WILDERNESS REVERSES THE DANGER OF SATURATION
One of the real tragedies of our day is that most people, even by junior high school are reaching a saturation point of input. Too much information has saturated the soil of people’s souls and the result is that if any new rain of truth cascades upon our mind, it washes off before even soaking in. And this is even the case for the Gospel. This creates barriers for the Kingdom of God to permeate every aspect of your life. Trying to gain a hearing with people to consider any new ideas (even the Gospel), can be tricky because people are saturated and have little bandwidth to soak it in. What the modern soul really needs is a grace-filled drought.
This is one the geniuses of wilderness time. God has used the wilderness as a special place for transformation through the ages by providing his people with “dry space”, where distractions are removed, and margin is created in the soil of people’s hearts to drink in and soak up his words:
As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his Gospel soak into your soul. – Charles Spurgeon
Now as much as ever we and our friends really need time in the wilderness to dry out to create space to soak up God. As we make margin for God we can go back into the valley of the city renewed. Being saturated with God guards us from the danger of being inundated with empty words. Being full of God we won’t have room for the lifeless bland words and ideas of the world. Sounds refreshing? This is what Jesus meant when he taught the Disciples to pray, “Your Kingdom Come.”
We see Jesus practicing this concept time and time again in his regular routine of getting away from the city to be alone with God. The strategies and ideas of the Kingdom were on the forefront of his mind at all times. Why? Because he spent time alone with God and was saturated with him. And through Christ, we too can follow this same path. Do you want to open yourself to God so he can reveal his Kingdom strategies for your life, school, family, workplace? Then I would highly recommend following his example of going off into the open space of his Creation for some dry-up time so he can saturate you with himself.
PETER’S DROUGHT | CREATE SPACE IN YOUR SOUL FOR THE KINGDOM
In the miracle of the large catch of fish where Jesus called Peter to follow him, this principle is illustrated. Peter had used his skill and ingenuity all night, working to bring in a catch of fish to provide for his family, his business, and his fellow workers. This particular night was exhausting and unsuccessful. God had given him a drought, and for good reason. Then Jesus comes to Peter and his friends while they were cleaning and putting away the nets. He climbs into Peter’s boat and instructs him to put out into deep water (another unique wilderness setting) for a catch. Peter reluctantly obeys because he is tired, but nevertheless trusts Jesus and submits to him. After rowing out into deep water, they bring in such a colossal catch of fish that both boats are about to sink.
Peter realizes that the only difference between this moment and the night before (when he had been in charge using his ingenuity and strength yet caught no fish) was that Jesus is in his boat now, and it is he who told him where to drop the nets. Peter realizes Jesus had crafted this whole experience to show him that no longer would he rely on his own ingenuity and strategy, but at this moment, Jesus is making a claim on his whole life. Peter repented in complete humility. Bang! Now during this richly teachable moment Jesus reveals his strategy for Kingdom growth: “Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men’” (Luke 5:10).
Through a word picture Jesus reveals a Kingdom strategy through a wilderness experience: we are called to fishers of men. Luke records Peter and his friend’s life-changing response: “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11). The massive catch of fish was not the issue. It was probably worth a lot of money, but Peter left it and his family business to become the father of those who catch men—the pillar of the first church! After confessing that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus replied,
Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:17-20)
- If you’d like to read more about this concept, here is a good Bible study on the soul’s need for retreat.
- How have you seen the soil of your soul becoming saturated?
- Do you have a story of how God used some “dry-out time” to create space for him to saturate you with himself?
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