“Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3)
It is February in Ohio. That means what seems like endless days of grey clouds, bitter cold, and all that white stuff that keeps falling from the sky. Reid is waiting for an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to see about replacing the hip that has plagued him for nearly a year. Recently I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease that is shooting pain down my leg. We are both limping through the house with canes. Our days are filled with doctor appointments, injections, and physical therapy. And oh yes, there is that thing called Covid. We find these days to be a wilderness journey – but that is not a bad thing.
Have you ever taken a close look at what the wilderness represents in the Bible? Try it. You might find it fascinating. The wilderness occurs nearly 300 times in the bible. When you take a close look at those who found themselves there, you discover that the wilderness was actually an incredible experience in each of their lives. Moses found himself there for 40 years, tending sheep. The Hebrews equally spent 40 years in the wilderness wandering around emptying their sandals of sand. Elijah fled into the wilderness to get away from the crazed queen Jezebel.
In the Hebrew the word for wilderness is midbar. Midbar comes from the root word davar. And davar is a word that means to speak. And indeed, the wilderness is the place where God speaks. He spoke to Moses in the wilderness through a burning bush. He spoke to the Hebrews in the wilderness from atop a mountain. He spoke to Elijah in the wilderness in a still, small voice. All incredible experiences!
It is in the wilderness experiences of our lives that God speaks to us. There is a reason for that. It is because in the wilderness of life there are few distractions. Consider how empty our social calendars are right now thanks to this pandemic. Consider how our physical bodies are limiting our activities as they age. Consider all the extra time we have on our hands.
My friends, there is a reason for that. God wants to speak to each of us. But perhaps until he brings us into the wilderness, we are too busy with all the distractions to listen for Him. The wilderness is where God speaks. Let’s listen for Him – and to him!