by Glenn Christopherson
Not everyone will “get” what I am trying to say here, but I pray it is an encouragement to those who do.
All across the globe, but especially in the west, long serving saints of the Most High God are finding themselves driven out of the assemblies they have attended for years, in some cases for decades.
Many have testified with broken hearts how they found themselves out of favour and out of fellowship for the sin of questioning a new purpose driven agenda or an emergent emphasis or refusing to sit silently by while their church was hijacked by prosperity heresy.
They find themselves a part of the 21st century diaspora.
Refugees from a modern Babylonian invasion.
Again and again I find brethren outside the camp shaking their heads and wondering where their friends have gone and what to do now that their Sunday routine has been unexpectedly and forever changed.
Some have come to see the blessing of the wilderness and some have not yet come to this point, but God, the great Shepherd of His sheep has given promises to the pilgrims of the dispersion and if you are one or know one I want to encourage you today with the word of the Lord….. but first a needed word to the under “shepherds.”
Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
“The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd…..”
vs 10 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold I am against the shepherds and will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds will feed themselves no more.
Christian leader, Jesus did not call you so that you might have a well paid job or a satisfying career. You will be held to account for how you shepherded God’s precious blood-bought people.
To the scattered flock, on the other hand, YHWH says:
vs 11 “Indeed I Myself will search for my sheep and seek them out.”
vs 15 “I will feed my flock, and I will make them lay down.”
vs 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick.”
vs 31 “You are My flock, the flock of my pasture; you are men, and I am your God,” says the Lord GOD.
It’s not always easy to see, but there are blessings in the wilderness.
When the comforts of the crowds are removed, the comforts of God are so much more keenly appreciated.
Every follower of Jesus, it seems will at some point be asked to stand alone with their God.
The chattering crowds will follow the rabbit trails of the latest “thing” being promoted in Christendom but the faithful ones are not looking for a new thing, they ask for the Ancient paths for their goal is the Ancient of Days Himself.
The removal of fair-weather friends leads us to lean on the Friend who is closer than a brother, the One whose name is Faithfull and True.
The purpose focussed and machinery driven goals of popular religion give way to the Spirit led fruitfulness of the child of God.
The children of the dispersion may miss the Sunday concert but will discover the worship of Spirit and truth that focusses on the Saviour and not the singer and finds itself in tune with God and not just in tune. And many a deserted saint has discovered that holy place on their face with tear streaked eyes and a faint echo of angel voices joining in the heavenly chorus.
The wilderness is not designed to be a place of comfort. Yet no air-conditioned sanctuary with padded pews can replace the deep fellowship with the Almighty. Your theology may well change in the desert places. No longer is it enough to “Amen” the preachers pet doctrine. Now there is a desperation to hear what God has to say “first hand”. The Book is now not a leather-bound accessory to a religious routine. It becomes your passion. You soak up its eternal truths and as heaven birthed revelation follows revelation , your Amens reach the ears of the God of all comfort.
The winds in the desert have a habit of whipping away the temporal and chirpy words of men, while amplifying the deep rumble of the whispers of God. Many in the wild places discover the Ancient text is written bold and saturated with divine life. No longer a book of simply doctrinal propositions it becomes a living word speaking to your every fear, hope and desire. And by the Spirit of God many have found the fears of men are replaced with a deep and joyous fear of God and the shallow hopes of a problem free existence are replaced with the eternal hope to know Him and to share in His sufferings, and to walk out the few short years of this world in hopes of a better resurrection in the new world to come.
The children of the dispersion come to see prayer as a necessity of life, no longer a mere duty it becomes the joy of their heart. Words weak and faltering as they may sound on earth flow into the throne room of God full of power and authority propelled by faith in a faithful God. And God hears… and angels snap to attention…and demons tremble… and heaven and earth echo at the verbalised devotion of the child of God. And the child senses this. Where once prayer hit the ceiling and bounced back devoid of life, wilderness prayers seem to become polished arrows of petition and fly straight and true into the Holy of Holies. And so too the answer comes flying back with “Granted” engraved on the shaft.
If you are a new addition to the wilderness wanderers, this may not yet be your experience. It will come…in time. But meanwhile, might I suggest not to spend all your energy trying to find “a” church. Seek the head of the church, Jesus, and let Him fit you in to the body where and when He sees fit.
If your still grieving the loss of your comfortable pre-wilderness days, you will come to see this time of exile as one of the greatest blessings God has brought your way.
Forgive, of course. It’s God’s business how He deals with those who’ve wounded you and His a perfect plan is being outworked. Leave it with Him. It’s not your worry.
And as for loneliness, there are other wilderness wanderers. You will meet them in time. Some have graduated and may help you work on your thesis but for now focus on The King.
And look around. The wilderness has pleasures that the crowd dweller never knows. The silence of solitude sensitizes our ear to pick up the still small voice of the God of Sabaoth. The natural and supernatural beauties of the wild places bring a delight that the canned beauty of the works of men can not. Most likely you will come to treasure this place of aloneness with God. Moses did… and others in scripture, but there may well come a time as it did for John the Baptizer when God requires the voice in the wilderness to speak to his church. You may well argue with God regarding this because you are loath to leave this place of Divinity filled isolation but like the obedient child you are you will go and you will speak whether to one or many and the things God taught you in the desert places will bring fresh life to those who have not yet experienced the dispersion of the pilgrims.