Grace In The Wilderness
Thus says the Lord: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."
I’ve been reading through Jeremiah lately and I came across the phrase grace in the wilderness.. it stood out.. (Jeremiah 31)
In context it’s a hopeful promise of grace to the remnant of Israel who is on their way to be exiled from their homeland to Babylon. They were found in great grievous sin, and God was going to lead His people from evil and give them a new heart, but God needed to end the evil and lead them away from it.. They would walk humbled and naked in the wilderness, plundered, and have to get comfortable in their new home for a long time. If they refused and fought God‘s timeline or managed to avoid God’s hand, they would not have hope or survival. No, the only way to make things right was to walk where God called them. Their hope and future would be in His hands, and He promised them they’d come home one day, but it required being sobered and seeing their need for His grace first..
If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)
When we live faithfully for the Lord in our unique story it gives God intense glory that will not end. Heaven rejoices, generations on earth pass it on, and it is a testimony that points a dying hopeless world to the hope of Jesus.
I love the allegoric story of pilgrims progress. I often see my life as if I too am walking through a thick wilderness, keeping to the narrow path, with a summons to stay loyal to my Lord. Though there are times I am caught astray on the wayward side of God’s way, following my feelings, the cultures convincing words, and questioning whether the Lords path is here or there..
Being caught in sin is not a comfortable place to be. A sense of hiding or even avoiding the Lord can envelope my mind and heart towards the Lords words, and I wonder.. “What really happens if I choose the Lord.. or if I don’t?”
There was one time in college, after having a disagreement with a friend, the Lord convicted my heart, “are you going to listen or go your own way?” And I hesitated, not really wanting to obey or get humble, but instead I chose to stew some more. Within moments of that choice to grumble in defiance, another friend came in and explained to me, with respect, what was really going on and how very wrong I was. The Lord allowed me to experience the shame of my pride and I lost friends that day for it. Never in my life did God humble me so fast, but it taught me in a deep way that when the Lord is calling my heart to get low, to get to it quickly.
“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4)
We don’t want to be Christians that never enter maturity in our walk with God, or we may be one of those pilgrims that get stuck on the wayside or worse lead others astray. As Christian’s we can’t hate the Lord for talking to us about our sin problems when our whole adoption to The Lord is based on the blood of Christ being shed for them. We don’t want to be numb to His loving call as our Lord and Shepherd either. His summons has called us to be His alone.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)