Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were [i]laid bare
At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my stay.
He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.
The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. Psalms 18:15-20
There is an email I receive every few weeks. It’s from the Sierra Club which is a company I know nothing about, but every time the email comes through I find myself gasping just a little. The subject line says “Become A Wilderness Guardian.”
Wilderness and desert are two words that define a significant season in my life. Despair from financial strain coupled with severe health issues felt to be too much to bear. The wilderness season was lonely mostly because it was hard to see God moving.
Wilderness seasons have their place. Jesus’ ministry began in the wilderness (Matthew 4), but the experience was a launching pad to direct his mission on earth. Wilderness seasons are a time where God calls us to reflect, prioritize and lean in. Sometimes these seasons can take us by surprise, which is why the challenge to be a guardian of the wilderness always catches me by surprise.
David is another example of how to walk through a wilderness. Like Jesus, he looked to God when things were hard. With enemies chasing him David sought refuge in God. God protected and rescued David, which David identifies as a result of God’s delight in him.
What if the wilderness is God’s way of drawing us near in part so he can teach us the ways he delights in us? If the wilderness is the place that God draws us near, prepares us for our mission on earth, then the delight may begin in the wilderness.
I think Matthew 3 gives another clue. John the Baptist was preaching in the literal wilderness of Judea when Jesus arrives and asks John to baptize him.
“Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he *permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’ “ Matthew 3:13-17
There is the word. Pleased. In fact, it is well-pleased or very delighted. Jesus was walking on mission and taking steps of obedience one at a time, and his father was delighted.