“Alone in the wilderness…that is what I am”, My friend said to me as I gave her a huge hug. She had been in this season of life for what seemed like a long time even to me. I can’t imagine how it felt for her. This wilderness season had came and gone in my own life and other friends lives before that I had witnessed so my heart went out to her. Each time I witnessed it the wilderness season always manifested differently. Today I want tell you a a series of stories about women who experienced a season of being alone, lied to, and feeling out of place in their own life. Then I want to give you hope and point your focus upward to the one who can bring you out of it and into the land of fruitfulness. Why? Because the wilderness is where you keep going around and around never getting to where you are supposed to be.
Our first story takes place in ministry. Have you ever been in ministry? Do you know it is hard to work along side people and groups who are at times nothing like us. Maybe their struggle is something we seem to do with ease so we can’t imagine how it could even be a struggle. This makes finding compassion extremley hard. What if your ministry (or God’s ministry, after all it is his not ours right?) calls you to walk alongside someone who struggles with lying? It just so happens that honesty is what you value of utmost importance in your life. You have been lied to in the past and you hate it. How could anyone flat out lie? What are you going to do when the next temptation they face is to lie about you? Do you stand your ground? Do you call them out on their lies one on one? Do you involve other people to expose this sin? As a christian living in a sinful world it was no surprise that any of these choices could back fire on the good willed women in my story, leaving her left out. Leaving her ostracized from her own ministry. Leaving her alienated from her own church family. When really all she was trying to do was love, protect, and hold another christian accountable. She wanted to leave that church. She wanted at times to give up. She felt like something inside was coming to a painful death.
The second story is of a woman who was so good at her job. She took so much pride in what she did. She made sure not to make mistakes, and to always be on time. She gave her all to each and every patient or customer. Some times money wasn’t right though, and because of her past she always feared someone would think she was the reason. Because of her past every incident that was reported for anything really she always feared she would get the blame. When the day came that she was asked by her supervisor about something that happened she didn’t even put up a fight. She didn’t wait around on them to fire her. She just didn’t go back to work. She was innocent but the enemy had been rendering her defeated long before her accusation came about. You see a plot usually starts long before the climax of any story.
My third story is in a marriage. This lovely lady was so devoted to her husband. She had a past sure but that was not who she was anymore. She was gorgeous and super friendly. This combination just made it so easy for her to attract others. Everyone spoke to her, especially men. Her husband noticed this and she did not. Then one day someone from her past text her phone. The message made it seem that they had been communicating even when they had not. Her husband did not believe her. She had nothing to stand on except her word. He left angry. There she was alone. She thought why shouldn’t I cheat if I am being accused anyway? She sat there that day staring at that text from her ex wondering if she should just reply.
In all three of the stories my friends were right in the beginning. The were good willed. There motive was pure, and in one case she did nothing wrong and her husband still left. So what do we do? What do we do when we have entered into a season of wilderness and circumstances that we can’t control? What do we do when we are wrongly accused?
We press in. (Philippians 3;14)
We pray harder. (1 Corinthians 14:15)
We do the opposite of give up. (Luke 18:1)
We go against the way of the world. (Romans 12:2)
We give not just what they took, but we give our all. (Matthew 5:40, Luke 6:29)
We turn the other cheek. (Matthew 5:39)
We stand strong and know that God himself will fight for us (exodus 14:14) but in the argument we be still.
If the enemy puts a feeling on us to give up on that ministry we minister more. Serve more. Love more. (Philippians 1:9)
If the enemy says give up on our marriage we put more effort into it. We put more kindness and love into it even though we have been wronged.
Isn’t that what Jesus did?
He was ostracized. He was lied about. He was accused. He didn’t stop serving. He didn’t stop devotion to his bride- the church. He loved more. He sacrificed more. He did all this even when his feelings didn’t match up. At one point he was so distraught he pleaded for God to make another way.
Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
What is the number one law we have to follow? The law of love my friends. The law of selflessness. We don’t serve because of how it makes us feel or how others treat us. We don’t do our best at that job for our boss but we do it for God. We don’t stay in that marriage of accusations for the feelings but we do it for our commitment to God.
In Matthew 21:32-45 Jesus talks about a parable where a man planted a vineyard and took lots of precautionary measures to keep it safe. So much as even putting a watch tower and a fence. But it was taken from the man. The tenants killed whoever the man sent to take it back. Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and Priest. He wanted them to know that the kingdom of God will be taken from people like them and given to those who could produce fruit. By fruit he meant love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Isn’t it our fruit that makes us set apart from the religious pharisees?
So today I want to tell you that what your going through is a mere opportunity. Not an opportunity for your heart to grow cold, not an opportunity to throw in the towel, not an opportunity to do less or be less committed. This season of wilderness is an opportunity for you to produce fruit.
It it an opportunity for the friend in my first story to show the fruit of forbearance and love regardless of feeling. For my second friend to remain faithful and produce goodness along with kindness at that job even when she was questioned. My third friend had the opportunity to be gentle with her husband who thought wrong of her. She could produce self control regardless of her feelings.
I believe in you today. I believe in the relationship you have with Jesus. I am believing God for his ability to produce fruit in your life. Be wise my friends. Be wise beyond your feelings. Your reward is the kingdom of heaven.
May you be blessed and encouraged.
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