Where Is Your Wilderness?

Have you ever experienced one of those moments of absolute mental brilliance? The kind that you are not sure you will survive?

If you are like me the answer is, many of them…

One of my greatest came two years ago when I made plans for a solo hike in Northern Arkansas. My goal was to hike into Hemmed in Hollow and proceed off trail about a mile and a half. I wanted to spend the next day camping on a ridge reading my Bible and praying. A noble goal to be sure.

SC22 (1 of 1)

On a beautiful July day, I congratulated myself on how quickly I was able to make the descent to the waterfall where the trail ended. I had completed the off trail section twice before with friends but each time it was in the early spring. I soon discovered that the summer landscape was much different to navigate because of the thick overgrowth.

Tangles of briers and vines made each step strenuous (and painful). About a mile in, drenched in sweat and blood, I had the sudden revelation that I was in trouble.

In the struggles of the last mile I had consumed almost half of my water. Even if I conserved I would not have enough for my day on the ridge and the hike out the next day.

I cautiously began to make my way back to the trail where I would be able to replenish my water from the stream and wash up a bit. I found a place to camp for the night and hiked out the next morning.

On the drive home I reflected on the hike. I had to admit that if I had stayed on the trail (the way my wife wanted me to) it would have been a great hike. The trouble came when I made the choice to get off the trail and be alone in the wilderness.

SC2 (1 of 1)

As men, we all find ourselves alone in a wilderness at some point. Most of the time that wilderness looks much different from a trail in Northern Arkansas.

The wilderness may be in front of a computer screen, a place on the drive home or a situation in the office. There are thousands of scenarios where we can find ourselves alone in a crowd and separated from the resources we need.

The world tells us we need to be strong, independent and tough it out. But God’s Word tells us something much different.

•      We Were Not Created To Be Alone

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Usually we hear this verse and immediately connect it to marriage. While it is true that God was talking about a mate for Adam, there are times that marriage itself can be a wilderness.

Because God said, “It is not good for man to be alone”, we can make application that we were not created to do life alone. We are in this together.

•      There Is Danger In Being Alone

Many of you have heard the illustration of how a pack of lions will attack a herd of animals much larger than they are. As the lions spook the herd they concentrate on separating one animal from the rest. Once they have the animal isolated it quickly becomes dinner.

Being alone in the wilderness exposes us to all kinds of attacks. We may think we are strong enough to stay there for a while, but if Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness what makes us think we are exempt?

Whatever our wilderness looks like, we are in trouble if we choose to be alone there for very long.

•      There Is An Alternative To Being Alone

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

CP3

As I made a rather defeated trek up out of the valley that day, I thought about how different the same hike was when I made it a year ago with eight friends.

Together we encouraged each other. We laughed, shared stories and helped each other over the tough sections of the trail.

The same vines and briars were there to pull at us and cut us, but it seemed easier when everyone else was being shredded up too!

[bctt tweet=” We have been taught that needing others a weakness. Satan is winning if we believe that.” username=”michaelkduff”]

As Christians God has provided everything we need to avoid being alone in the wilderness. There is only one thing that will keep us there and that is PRIDE.

Most of us, especially men, don’t want to admit that we need help or want others in our lives. We have been taught that asking for help or depending on someone else is a weakness.

Satan is winning if we believe that. As a result, we walk through the wilderness, separated from man and God because we are unwilling to seek the help we need.

Where is your wilderness?

Who can you find today to walk through the wilderness with you? The journey is much easier when you share it with someone.

If this post has been an encouragement to you, please share it with your network or leave a comment!

Our Greatest Need

In a small cemetery not far from New York City there is a very unusual grave and headstone. The headstone has no carvings or embellishments. There is no name, no date of birth or death. It is inscribed with one simple word: FORGIVEN.

For1An unknown author wrote this: “…our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.”

All to often we fail to give consideration to what an incredible gift God has given us, when like the man buried in the unmarked grave, we are forgiven!

Let’s consider what a great miracle forgiveness really is.

I.   Forgiveness Fulfills Our Greatest Need

Psychiatrist Karl Menninger once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day!

The guilt of our sin is a heavy load to bear.

In John Bunyan’s book Pilgrims Progress, the character Pilgrim is introduced seeking a way to get the heavy load of guilt off his back. He eventually carries his burden to the cross where it falls off, rolls down the hill and disappears into a cave never to be seen again.

Forgiveness set him free from his burden and it is what will set us free. Forgiveness means our greatest need has been met in Christ!

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

The problem is that many of us travel great distances searching for the sins God has removed from us.[bctt tweet=”Many of us travel great distances searching for the sins God has removed from us.” username=”michaelkduff”]

II.   Forgiveness Is The Most Costly Gift We Will Ever Receive

It’s odd how the longer we are Christians, the more we tend to forget the price Christ paid for us to be forgiven.

Here is the cost of our forgiveness;

I Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

God willingly and lovingly gave His Son that our sin might be forgiven. Think of the horror He could have unleashed upon the men who were preparing to kill His Son.

Now think of the love required to stand by and do nothing so that we might be forgiven.

III.   Forgiveness Brings Us The Greatest Blessings

It is forgiveness that brings us into a proper relationship with God. When we are right with God we are blessed regardless of our circumstances.

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) are filled with examples of people who are blessed in the midst of trials. The people in these verses are poor, hungry, persecuted, have lost loved ones, and yet Christ says that they are blessed.

Why? Because like us their hope was not in this world!

I Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

IV.   Forgiveness Is Eternal

Mark 2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

As amazing as this miracle was, there would come a day that this man would no longer walk. There was a day that Bartameaus could no longer see. There was a day when Lazarus returned to the tomb. But the true miracle that Christ did in each of their lives continues to this day!

One day, just like these men, we will stand before God, healed, justified and forgiven of our sins.

How thankful do you think all of heaven is for that forgiveness? Let’s not wait for heaven to express thankfulness!

You have been forgiven! Christ has performed the greatest miracle ever known on us! We are forgiven!

Won’t you take a moment to thank Him for that forgiveness right now?

If you have not yet received that forgiveness, please send me a comment and I would love to correspond with you about it!