Into the Wilderness Devotional, Day 6: The Wilderness is Where God Prepares Us
Everyone has their own experience during this pandemic season, and some may feel this more than others. But to one degree or another, we all feel that this year has become a little less cultivated, a little more inhospitable. And we’re all wondering where to find the path through this season. The good news is that there is a well-worn path: the path of the wilderness in Scripture.
Day 6: The Wilderness Is Where God Prepares Us
Now the last thing we’ll highlight that God does as he transforms us in the wilderness: he prepares us. He prepares us for the work for he has called us to.
One of the things we rightly emphasize is that God saves his people. He does! He redeems them, brings them out of slavery, pays for their sins, cleanses their unrighteousness. But God not only saves his people FROM something he saves them FOR something. God has a purpose for the people he calls. You see this when God calls Abraham, he says that through Abraham the whole world would be blessed. You see this when God calls Moses in the desert, he calls Moses to the work of bringing out his people. You see this then as well with the whole nation of Israel. God doesn’t just save them from Egypt he saves them for something.
Isaiah would later sum up the purpose of God’s people succinctly, he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). The nation of Israel was meant to live differently in order to be used by God to draw the eyes of the nations to God, that the nations might see salvation.
And that doesn’t stop in the New Testament. Paul the Apostle says in Galatians 1 that God saved him for a purpose: God “was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles” (1:16). So God saving Paul was tied to a purpose. He wasn’t just saved from something but for something and that “something” was proclaiming the gospel, for him specifically among the Gentiles. And then Paul says that before the rest of his story, even before going to Jerusalem, he spent a long period of time in Arabia and Damascus. Doing what? We don’t know exactly...only that in this time God himself was helping Paul and preparing Paul for his mission to the Gentiles.
What’s the point? The point is that we are not just saved from something but for something. God has a purpose and plan for each person he calls and often the partner in Scripture is that God uses wilderness seasons to prepare people for the work he has called them to.
But is that just for big figures like Moses or Paul? No it’s for every single Christian:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God saves us and when he does, he has good works in mind that we should walk in. And God uses the wilderness seasons of life to teach us, to train us, to instruct us, to refine us... so that we can be used by God.
What are those good works? We’re called to love our neighbors, primarily by declaring the gospel and demonstrating the reality of the gospel. We are here to proclaim the message of blessing promised to Abraham, the message of redemption pictured in the Exodus, the message of forgiveness of sins pictured in the temple, the message of the promised land. We are here to be a light to all those around us.
App: What if God took this year of your life and used it to reorient your life around his purposes for you? What if he took this year to prepare you in important and unique ways for the remaining years you have? Wouldn’t that be worth it. I do believe God is doing that.