Devotional: Wilderness of Life

Called to Lead devotionals are primarily written for school leaders, who have permission to reprint this devotional for parents. Please cite the source.

“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8: 2-3).

Parents, I urge you: do not deprive your children of the experience of the wilderness.

A local Christian radio station, which depends on the generosity of its listeners to meet budget, is running its annual fund-a-thon, and the hosts challenged listeners to “just say yes” to giving. They then told the story of a mom who decided to “just say yes” to every request that her six-year-old made during a 30-minute shopping excursion. “How fun,” the mom said. “How fun,” the hosts echoed. “How frightening and problematic,” I thought.

My thoughts turned to my grandchildren. They would have a field day with 30 minutes of “yes,” and I would be exhausted and broke.

My thoughts then turned to the challenge of parenting. I thought of helicopter parents, who hover ceaselessly over their children, ready to descend at the first hint of difficulty. My thoughts turned to the plow-the-road parents, who move ahead of their children, doing their utmost to plow the difficulties out of the way so that their child’s path is clear and smooth. When hovering is ineffective or the plow breaks down, litigator parents stand ready to intervene to soften consequences.

Parents, please take no offense. Remember, I am a grandparent of six beautiful and perfect children. I want to hover over each of them, plow their path, and most certainly stand in their defense. I can introspectively laugh at myself, and I hope you can at least smile if you see yourself in one of these metaphors, too.

Let me challenge you. Please do not deprive your children of the wilderness.

God chose to use the wilderness to describe the earthly place where our Father in heaven meets his children and teaches them most directly. The wilderness and the desert are close to the same thing, but the wilderness is an even harsher environment.

The psalmist says that in the wilderness the hot daytime sun can kill and so can the cold night. But under the care of the Father, neither will harm us.

The Israelites were chosen by God, led from Egypt, and then disobeyed God. And so they spent 40 years in the wilderness to be taught lessons of relationship with their Father before he allowed them to proceed into the Promised Land.

To talk with God, Elijah fled to the wilderness after Mt. Carmel. To be prepared for ministry, Jesus went to the wilderness for 40 days and was tempted there.

As an ancient rabbi said, “You can take me from the desert [wilderness], but if you take the desert [wilderness] from me, I will no longer be faithful.”

As another said, “The deeper we go into the wilderness, the greater are God’s miracles.”

And that is why my challenge to you is to not deprive your children of wilderness experiences. Wilderness experiences do not necessarily make us stronger. They hurt. They are not fun.

But it is in wilderness times and desert places that each of us is brought closer to the Father. In those times and places, we can know best our need for God and total dependence on him. It is in those times and places that we are drawn closer in our walk with the Lord. We cannot do life alone; we need our loving shepherd.

What should be the first goal of every believing parent for their child? I hope your answer is that your child will know the love of God, will love God, and will love each other.

Please, do not deprive your child of the wilderness places where they will meet their God.

Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services

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