Growth in the Wilderness

I’ve been writing and studying on the Israelites in the book of Joshua over the past year, how they came out of the wilderness and into claiming their Promised Land.  But the other day, as I read the story surrounding John the baptizer’s birth and childhood, his growth in the wilderness captivated me.

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” (Luke 1:80, ESV)

Both the children of Israel and John spent time in the wilderness, but I get the sense there were two completely different experiences.  The Israelites complained a good bit; they complained about not enough food or water.  Understandably so, those are two essential elements to our human existence.  In Egypt as slaves, their creature comforts were met but their spirits were crushed.  And in the wilderness where they could be free, it was not comfortable (Exodus 12-15).  They were so distraught, slavery seemed to be a better option.

I realize that in many ways, the two stories (the Israelite wilderness & John the Baptizer’s wilderness) are not comparable.  But both experienced growth.  The Israelites grew, they grew in number!  Some of them, like Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:16-12), grew in spirit and trust in the Lord.  John the baptizer grew in both stature, from a child into a man, and in the spirit of the Lord.

As Luke 1 tells the story about John’s birth and childhood, it also sheds light on another response to the wilderness.  I believe this shows us that we have a choice in how we encounter the wilderness.  We tend to talk about it so often, those hard seasons of life where we feel parched or alone.  I’m sure you can think of a “wilderness” time in your life, I can.

I have wandered through dry and desolate places.  At one point in my life, the dry parched land seemed to stretch on for miles.  Choosing to be thankful, with a heart of gratitude, led me to the streams in the desert.  Choosing to use that time as a rich classroom, presented an entirely different experience of that parched land.

SONY DSCThose wilderness experiences can be our greatest classroom and opportunities for growth.  I have a choice as to how I will respond in that classroom; I can choose to wallow and grow weary with ‘woe is me’; or I can choose to play in the sand, with gratitude, and grow in the spirit.  There are rivers and springs available through Jesus; steeped in His Word, through praises to Him, within our brothers and sisters, and amongst all of creation!  I want to challenge you to choose gratitude in your wilderness encounters; stepping into each rich classroom provided, growing in spirit and stature.

“Remember not the former things,

nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19, ESV)

 

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Made in His Image

My husband recently had a birthday.  I’m not the best gift-giver.  While I greatly appreciate and enjoy material things, it’s not my primary love language.  In fact, it’s almost on the bottom of the list.  So when it’s time for birthdays, especially adults, I’m lost on presents. Unless it’s something that I get excited and connect with.  Like my man’s birthday present this year. 

There’s this photo of his great-great grandfather (Mr. Craighead) hanging in his brother’s house.  He’s always wanted a copy.  So, this year that was the mission.  I didn’t get it completed in time for an official unveiling, but it has turned into this adventure for both of us!  We’ve spent time together and enjoyed making the decisions about the next step towards getting this project completed.  We’re currently looking for an old, oval frame; it’s like a treasure hunt.

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Great-Great Grandfather Craighead

All that said, we’ve enjoyed having this ancestor’s face around the house.  We’ve enjoyed getting curious about what he was like and stories he would be able to tell.  It’s been fun!  The other night we found Mr. Craighead tucked into our bed.  (Kids!)  He’s a handsome fella, kind of like my husband. 

Genetics are fascinating.  My family breeds cattle and we’ve had many talks about genetics and how we take after our parents and grand parents.  The genetics on my dad’s side are very strong.  Our ears, blue eyes, long arms, facial structure, noses, hair lines and cowlicks are some of the most identifying features.  It’s fun to see how much my son reminds me of my dad and brothers, especially with his mannerisms.  It makes us do a double-take at times. 

Out of all of my husband’s family, I think my man resembles Mr. Craighead the most.  Sometimes, we don’t seem to look anything like our biological parents.  Other times, it’s undeniable.  But this old photo has captivated my thinking about genetics. 

We are created to take after the physical image of our parents, it’s the way for God’s pattern of us being created in His image, to continue.  Ultimately we are created to take after the image of our Father in heaven.  Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (ESV) 

Our Creator set the pattern for each of us to take after himself; and we are each a unique expression of what that looks like.  I believe that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, complete with the capacity to love and be loved.  To forgive and extend grace.  We are made with eyes to see, a heart to feel, a mind to create and explore, and hands to hold what is broken and also treasured.

No matter what our past is with your earthly father, or how much you “take after him” in looks, ultimately it is your Heavenly Creator Father that you are patterned after.  You are a loved and treasured possession.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), in His image!