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Wilderness Wisdom (1 of 4)

Mike Connell

So what kinds of things - notice the thing about the humbling is, you suffer lack? Now He calls you to suffer lack. He didn't leave them hungry, He still fed them. He said He tested them, said allow them to suffer lack, allowed you to get hungry. Hunger is a good thing, if you hunger for the right things. So He allowed you get hungry, so what kind of experiences - now this is what they include. This is probably not an exhaustive list, but this is a list of some things that you could call a wilderness experience. You might like to tick one or two of them: Pressure, tremendous pressure coming on your life. It could be financial pressure, family pressure, pressure of ill health, pressure of all kinds of things. It could be lack of some kind, you don't have enough. Lack of ability, lack of skill, could be a lack in some kind of area - you're running a ministry and you've got a lack of people. You've got a lack of resources.

Injustice is another wilderness experience, nothing after you've been through what is perceived was an injustice. Of course we just look at it through our eyes, so we say that's NOT FAIR! [Laughter] God says: I'm just trying to prepare you! It's not fair - meaning I don't deserve this. Of course you don't, but God's preparing you. You have to learn how to handle injustice. How would you be able to understand the cross, which is full of injustice, so an unjust experience can bring you to the cross, where Jesus suffered great injustice, and you can understand how to deal with injustice. Most people just become angry when there's injustice, and they're not going to have an answer when they're angry. You have to have compassion, and so God has to take us through some experiences. When you've been through injustice, you can understand people who have suffered injustice, and instead of saying: oh just get over it, you have compassion, because you've worked through it yourself.

Misunderstanding is another wilderness experience. Moses thought they would understand the call of God on his life; I am called to deliver a nation don't you know! No they didn't know, and they didn't care, and they chased him out of town and put a reward on his head. He ended up in the wilderness. What went wrong? I was so sure it was God, for me to deliver the nation. How come I'm here looking after sheep? Misunderstanding. Most of us want to be understood by people. When you feel misunderstood, now don't you get upset - welcome to your wilderness. You don't need to have people understand you. In fact when you walk with God, people won't always understand you, and you've got to live with that. How will you live with that? Well you have to experience it, and learn how instead of that natural desire of wanting to be understood - but you need to understand! I've got to explain! I've got to - no, you just need to lean on God, and let God sort it out. It's not an easy test, the one of misunderstanding.

Another one is opposition, where you have tremendous opposition, it doesn't seem fair. Another one is apparent failure, everything you've done seems to have fallen apart, and there it is, you look a mess. It happens. Probably the best way to describe a wilderness - if I want to use a word picture to describe a wilderness experience, it's a fruit tree in winter, bare sticks, doesn't look good. I like them in autumn, when they've got the beautiful leaves and fruit everywhere, it's wonderful. But there are times in our life when we look like we're a tree, there's no fruit, not even any leaves. All you can see are the bare sticks, and we live in an area like that. But one thing I've noticed about that, it's always followed by spring with the budding - and I notice it's followed by fruit bearing again as well, so it looks a bit like that, so that's the wilderness for you. Temptation is a wilderness experience.

What is there about a wilderness? Wilderness is a place where you feel alone. It's not you are alone, because God doesn't leave you, you just feel alone. You feel all on your own - all on my own! God, where are you? Of Hezekiah it said: God left him alone to test him, and see what was in his heart. God didn't leave him. It's just God withdrew the manifest presence, and it didn't feel like God was there. God was there, it just didn't feel like God was there, and in that didn't feel like God was there, then he had to make decisions what to do, because when you feel God, well it's great when you feel God. I mean you're in church, you feel God woah! Then you get out in the car park and someone upsets you, and suddenly you don't feel God anymore. That's what happens. Welcome to life.