Journal Entry // May 12, 2022
And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV
What’s the purpose of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years after being brought of the slavery of Egypt by a great and powerful showing of God’s mighty right hand? I’m sure the answer is multifaceted if you do an in-depth study, but a good summation of the wilderness wandering is here in this passage. The Lord used the 40-year wandering in the wilderness to humble the Israelites. To test their heart’s desire for obedience. To know what was in their heart. This feels so familiar to me because the Lord is truly leading me through my own wilderness in order to humble me.
I think about this story of the wilderness wandering and I see so many similarities to the past few years of my life. I can look back and see the mighty hand of God intervening in my life to lead me out of my own Egypt. To lead me out of a land of slavery to sin and oppression. He rescued me out of the darkness of sin and disobedience and brought me back into the light of his good and precious Word. I can look back now with a distant perspective and see the many ways he protected and guided me through my own personal exodus. An exodus that was not easy and an exodus that I did not choose myself. An exodus that was an answer to this simple prayer from my heart, “Lord, teach me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.” This was the prayer I cried out to the Lord in my desperation and mourning over sin. God’s answer to this simple prayer was to take away everything I was trusting in that was not Jesus.
So the Lord took away all the many things that I thought were important and significant to life and ministry. He stripped me bare of those things that I thought brought me significance and importance. He humbled me and he continues to humble me to this day. It is a difficult road to walk through this wilderness of humility, but it is a road that I know I need. I know I need to be humbled. I know that the Lord needs to test what is in my heart. He doesn’t test my heart with adversity because he is unaware of what my heart is like. No, he tests me with adversity to show ME what is in my heart! This is the key to my wilderness wandering.
For so many years, I was growing in spiritual knowledge and understanding. My spiritual disciplines were steady and I was serving the Lord in many varied ways. Yet, I didn’t care for my heart. I let sin linger in my heart. I gave the darkness pockets of freedom in my heart. I even cared for those pockets of darkness. I can see that now. I look back over my life and see my failure to truly eradicate sin from my heart. I was choosing to let sin grow alongside the righteousness. I was choosing to gain knowledge about the Word of God without really applying it to my heart and soul. I actually used this spiritual knowledge to increase my pride and arrogance.
In this wilderness of humility I can see this now. I can see the steadfast hand of God leading me through adversity and trials to humble me. To teach me that my only hope is in Jesus. There is no other. So he continues to answer my prayer. He continues to teach me how to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. He is teaching me that to love the Lord like this, there must be obedience in all things. This is how I abide in his love… Obedience. And as I abide in his love, his joy will fill my heart. The fullness of his perfect joy will fill me and overflow.