Wilderness Voices

I need you and you need me.  I don’t really like you but I need you.  People need people.  And people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.  (I can’t believe I just wrote that)  But the unvarnished truth is that we really do need each other. 

“…until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them.  After that, you may go back and occupy your won land, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”  Joshua 1:15 (NIV)

After the Ruebenites, the Gadites (and you don’t like your name!) and the half tribe of Manasseh had negotiated for God’s second best, Joshua tells them that the job will not complete until the establishment of the nation is secured.  He was showing them that they were all in this together.  There is no place for an independent attitude. 

This morning I was listening to an NPR article about how kids going to prom this year are increasingly not taking the stretch limousines because of rising fuel costs.  They are taking what are called “Party Buses.”  These luxury buses complete with restrooms, plasma screens and satellite T.V.’s cost up to $1400.00 per night but hold up to 28 people.  Split that cost and all have a good time.  One of the owners of the limo companies being interviewed said something that caught my ear:  “the younger set’s preference for togetherness over romance is transforming our business.”  Togetherness over romance?  That is not how I remember Prom.

Perhaps one of the oldest stories in the Bible is the story of Job.  It is a story of great loss, restoration and gaining perspective on who God is.  Job had lost his considerable property, his children, and his health, but in the end God put everything back and then some.  I want you to see something very profound:

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.”       Job 42:10 (NIV)

After what?  After he had prayed for the nefarious friends who gave him bad council for some 40 chapters.  But the point is clear: We are meant to be a bunch, not individuals.  We need each other.  The nature of the anti-God world…the look-out-for-number-one attitude …ought to bring the people of God closer together.  I wonder about Christ followers that take no steps to connect with other Christ followers.

When I’m down and depressed there is a friend in another city that I call.  Inevitable, he knows that I am down and he speaks words that encourage me.  He is a true friend.

I heard someone say a long time ago that in battle the standing order for a marine or soldier is when digging a foxhole always dig it large enough for two.  No one wants to be in battle alone.

Every Sunday morning churches are filled with lonely people.  There are people who are going through difficult circumstances that would cause the strongest among us to stagger under the load.   How do I know?  I am the first to see the prayer requests in our church.  And I know that the requests that are turned in represent only a fraction of the pain and suffering that is present on any given Sunday.

We really do need each other.  It is called interdependence.  I learned that in the wilderness. 

“Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you.  Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses.”  Joshua 1:17 (NIV)

This verse shows me the necessity of direction. 

In the Bible, leadership is always found in the person on whom God rests His Spirit.  It has nothing to do with education, stature, fame, or popularity.  It is entirely based on whom God has rested His Spirit.  And here in this text it is Joshua.  They grumbled and murmured against Moses but through the wilderness they had learned that when God chooses His man, He enables that man to lead and they had better follow him.  They learned which friends to trust.

Who speaks into your life?  Can you hear God’s voice coming through theirs?  What are they saying?  Do they speak with a Galilean accent?  Is there truth and love in the their tone?  This morning I met with my pastor for coffee and he said something that God used to challenge me.  I heard God’s voice in what Jason said.  (Don’t tell him I wrote this.)  Who is speaking into your life?  What voices are you listening to?

In the wilderness you are going through right now, you are going to find out whether or not you have any friends.  And if you do, you’ll find out what they are like.  The only way you can test a friend is in the wilderness.  Sometimes the best words are the ones not spoken. 

Someone once said, “A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”

There are many lessons to be learned in the wilderness.  And when we learn them maybe, just maybe, God will let us enjoy the Promised Land.  Wilderness is never fun, but when you look back you realize that it is there that you learn your most profound truths about you and about God.

That is why Spurgeon could say, “When we learn to kiss the rod, God burns it.”


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