b'Emotions are raw. Passions are run- Consider Abraham, Moses, Israel,anxiety, the just my luck or of ning high. Fear, anger, defensiveness,John the Baptist, and Jesus. Time andcourse this terrible thing is happening and exhaustion abound. Weve allagain, God leads His people into theto me mentalitytheyre all expres-grieved and done much soul searchingwilderness to humble them, to testsions of a heart that believes God is on every conceivable level. them, and ultimately, to do themeither unconcerned with my current And while the world hunkeredgood (Deuteronomy 8:16).struggles, or that He cares but is down in isolation, missions and min- Heres the first fixed point bycaught off guard by them, or, worse istries have had to figure outon thewhich we will find our bearings: Godyet, that Hes in them but very much flyhow to responsibly love the neigh- doesnt just lead us out of the wilder- against me. Israel expressed it by say-bors God called us to serve whileness when we cry to Him for help.ing to God, Why do you hate me?!keeping up staff morale. And its notHes also the One who leads us into itNothing could be further from the over yet. We need to come up for airand through it. This is key. God didnttruth. Contrary to our hearts accusa-while we take inventory, strategize, andgo looking for us when we wanderedtions, Scripture declares certain things reset. Where do we go from here? Howoff and got stuck in a wilderness. Hehave always been true. For one, God is do we get back to normal?led us there. On purpose. Becausein control of the world and everything We dont. Normal as a categoryHes up to something. in it. Secondly, He loves usa lot. is long gone.This is where good theology getsThirdly, He will always use His power in perfect wisdom to act toward His children in love with a goal in mindour sanctification and His glory (the two are remarkably linked). All of the above still holds true, even (especially) in the wilderness. To not believe this is rebellion, as Israel learned when they refused to go up and take the land. The wilderness is a test. Will I trust God and obey His commands? Heres the second fixed point: We fail the wilderness test, but Jesus passes it for us. Thats the beauty of the wilderness.practical. Our theology tells us God isI dont know about you, but Im a It changes normal. There is no goingsovereign, and that He both is goodmess. I want to walk by faith and not back; theres only going forward. Butand does good (Psalm 119:68). But ifby sight, to love God and others more which way is forward? To figure thisyoure anything like me, your attitudethan myself. I want to die to self and out, we need to get our bearings byhas revealed more than a few timeslive for Christ, to bite my tongue and locating a couple of fixed points. Look- these past several months that whilesubmit to authority. I really do. But ing back at another nationwide wilder-your head may be doctrinallyI fail the wilderness test every time.ness experience helps us do just that. grounded, your heart can functionThis may be a demoralizing sur-The wilderness motif is a recurringfrom a less-than-orthodox place. prise to me, but its no surprise to theme in redemptive history.The pity parties, the fear andGod. Thats why He comes. Jesus, 36 WWW.CITYGATENETWORK.ORG SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020'