The dry season ended, seemingly as quickly as it had begun. The absence of “feeling” God’s presence, that I shared with you in last week’s post, has been replaced by an infusion of His Spirit that has filled every inch of my mind, body, and soul. I stand in awe of God, completely overwhelmed by what He has allowed me to feel, and to “see”, since I last shared my thoughts with you.
The spiritual dry season that I just came out of was truly a gift from God. I learned a great deal, not during my time in the “desert”, but after I had reentered God’s “spiritual rain forest.” It’s been a week, and I’m still learning lessons from that time when I felt like I was away from Him. In fact, one of those revelations came to me as I was sitting down to write this post, and you’re going to be amazed (at least I was) at how it came to me.
This past Saturday night I was having a conversation with Saul, a young man who was attending a Bible study group that my wife Jackie and I are hosting in our home. We were talking about my dry season; when it began, how long it lasted, and what it felt like in the midst of it.
During our conversation, Saul was telling me about Jesus’ time in the desert, much of which I already knew. It lasted for forty days, during which Jesus had no food. He was hungry. He was tired. He was alone; almost. He was tempted three times by Satan.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Matthew 4:1-2
What Saul revealed to me that I didn’t know was that Jesus’ real ministry didn’t begin until after his time in the desert. Before that time, He hadn’t even performed His first miracle and He wasn’t the teacher that He would prove to be. It seems as if Jesus’ time in the desert had elevated him to another spiritual level.
Saul’s words stayed with me all weekend. I kept thinking about Jesus’ time in the real desert, deprived of food, what we consider to be essential for life. Yet during that time He not only grew in Spirit and, when He should have been at His weakest, cast aside Satan.
Jesus said to him “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship, the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Matthew 4:10
So, Jesus was led to the desert by the Spirit.
This left me posing the questions, “I wonder if I was led by the Spirit into my dry season?” “Is He preparing to take me to another level spiritually?”
Well, I’m quite sure that it was part of God’s plan for me to enter the desert. But unlike Jesus, I don’t believe that I was led by the Spirit to fight the devil. No, I believe that I was led to it by the devil himself. Yep, you read right; I was led by Satan. And it was part of God’s plan.
I’m finding myself being lead to mention Job as a parallel for what happened to me. If you’ve never read the story of Job, which is in the Old Testament, I encourage you to do so. It’s a great lesson in faith, and remaining steadfast, and loving the Lord regardless of what you receive in life.
Here’s a condensed version: Job was a very wealthy man; a righteous, God-fearing, evil-hating man. He was married, with seven sons and three daughters. He had plenty of land, and owned thousands of heads of livestock and animals. He had numerous servants. In other words, Job had it all.
With God’s permission, and as a test of Job’s faith, Satan was allowed to take away everything that Job had in life; EVERYTHING he had. Still, Job’s faith in God, and his love for him, never wavered.
Am I comparing myself to Job? No. Had God allowed Satan to strip me of everything I owned? No, not that either. I used Job as example because we are tested every day. Some of these tests are from God, i.e. teaching us patience, and humility, and love. I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating: Nothing that we receive from God is bad. NOTHING. NO-THING that we receive from God is bad. Everything that we receive from God, even the things that we don’t understand, is part of His plan for us.
Conversely, nothing that we receive from Satan is good. NOTHING. He seeks only to destroy, and ruin, and put as many obstacles between ourselves and God as he possibly can. None of them are good, and like what we receive from God, and like what Job received, many are tests. But that’s where the similarities end. God didn’t bring anything bad into Job’s life, but He certainly allowed it to happen. It was part of his plan for Job.
Sorry for the detour. I don’t know why I felt compelled to talk about Job; I just felt that he should be included. Let’s get back to my being in the desert and how I was led there by the devil.
The night before The Seed of Hope was launched on October 31, 2008, I told God that The Seed was for Him. It was to be a means of telling the world about the amazing things that He had done in my life and sharing what I learned in my spiritual walk with others. The glory and praise would be, not for me, but for Him. I asked Him to give me the words to give to you.
Since that day, I have done exactly that every week. Except for one.
A couple of months ago, I was in a bad place. I won’t go into detail, but something happened in our business the week before that hurt me deeply. I struggled with my emotions, especially my anger. And my pride.
And Satan stepped in. On May 24th I wrote a post titled Betrayed. (Don’t bother looking for it, because it has been pulled.) Quite honestly, when I wrote it I wasn’t listening for God’s Word, or the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t sharing some amazing thing that God had done in my life, or passing along a nugget of truth that I’d gleaned from my spiritual walk.
If you’ve visited these pages before, you know that I share my personal experiences, both good and bad, with you. I try not to take things personally in life, try not to hold grudges, and try not to get even. But on that one occasion, I did all of the above, and I used this site as a platform for doing so. I put my feelings ahead of everything else. Satan put the bait in front of me, and I took it.
I failed the test; miserably. On that day, I stepped into my dry season, my desert. And I remained there for six weeks. (I know, that’s forty-two days, but who’s counting?)
In order of importance, The Seed of Hope ranks right behind God, Jackie, and my family. It has become my ministry. It is a gift from God. It is, quite simply, a huge part of my life.
I’ve apologized to God for what I did. I’ve apologized to the party that I, in my attempt to get even, offended.
It’s time now for me to offer an apology to you, for using this seed of hope, this gift from God, for my personal self-indulgence. You see, it’s the last step for me out of my own personal desert.
Thanks for visiting. I’m being showered with spiritual rain, and it’s beyond awesome, and I can’t wait to tell you more about coming out of the desert!