May 26, 2017
We hope you are enjoying the Girlfriends in God daily devotions. We (Mary, Sharon, and Gwen) would like to introduce you to some of our special friends. From time-to-time, the Friday devotions will be written by one of our friends in ministry. We call them our Friday Friends. So grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee and drink in the words from our Friday Friend, Melissa Spoeistra
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16, NLT).
Friend to Friend
Have you ever felt like you were wandering in circles? Like you do the same things over and over again - laundry, groceries, emails. You visit the same spots - kid's school, gym, work, church. Certain seasons of life can feel like a holding pattern in more ways than one. Spiritually, physically, and emotionally there are times when we just don't seem to be getting anywhere.
Some questions to ask during wilderness seasons include:
- Is there a difference between perspiration and inspiration?
- Could I be missing something important God has called me to do?
- Do I need to rediscover the great value in the mundane routine of my life or is there something more God is calling me to pursue?
The people of Israel found themselves in a 40 year long holding pattern after they grumbled and disobeyed God. During this time they ate the same food, wore the same clothes, and circled the same wilderness. God provided for them, taught them lessons, and carried out some consequences for their attitudes and behaviors during this time.
The story of the Israelites in the wilderness is the sort of Old Testament event that was never forgotten. The Psalms, prophets, gospels, and several New Testament letters make reference to the lessons learned from the wilderness wanderings. Later God fulfilled every promise He made to His people in giving them victory in the land of promise. They defeated their enemies in Canaan and were once again able to cultivate the soil, make new clothes, and live in more permanent dwellings. The wilderness wasn't forever, but it probably felt that way for the people moving through the desert with nothing but manna to eat and dreams of a future home.
When we seem to be in a wilderness season, it isn't always because of complaining or bad choices. Sometimes our health, circumstances, or stage of life contributes to a time that feels like a wilderness. In working on a Bible study on the book of Numbers, I've been thinking a lot about the wilderness. So my interest was perked as I came across this verse in the Luke 5:16:
"But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer."
It reminded me that the wilderness is often a place of preparation. The Israelites took a census and got organized during their time in the wilderness. John the Baptist was a voice crying out from the wilderness. Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness before beginning His public ministry. Once Christ began healing and teaching, people followed Him everywhere, but He often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
When we feel stuck in routine, like the landscape never seems to change, we can be proactive in prayer during our own wilderness seasons.
- If we feel unsatisfied or unsure of our purpose, we should withdraw and pray.
- If we are weary and tired but uninspired, then we should withdraw and pray.
- If we know God has big things ahead for us, then we should withdraw and pray so we can be prepared for what lies ahead.
Jesus has things for us to learn in the wilderness, but we need to follow His example to withdraw and pray so we'll be prepared for all God has in store!
Dear Lord, help me to reframe seasons that seem mundane. Show me what You are doing and how I can draw near to you. Just as you withdrew to pray in the wilderness, I want to spend time with you when I’m in a season that feels dry or isolated.
I long to redeem even the most blah days into times when I can prepare and pray.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
So when can you withdraw today? Can you steal away for an hour, half an hour, or even ten minutes and get in God's presence? Pour out your heart to Him, ask Him for clarity, and make a list of any nudges toward action you sense while in His presence.
More from the Girlfriends
Melissa Spoelstra is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages know Christ more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author of Mom's Choice Award-winning Total Family Makeover as well as three women’s Bible studies including First Corinthians, Joseph, and Jeremiah. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at www.melissaspoelstra.com.
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Originally published Friday, 26 May 2017.