God's Work in the Wilderness by Wesley Kouba

What comes to your mind when you hear the words: exile, wilderness, dry place, foreigner? In chapter 2 in the story of the Exodus, Moses finds himself deeply acquainted with each of these words. Unfortunately, Moses experienced these incidents because he took matters into his own hands by resorting to violence (Exodus 2:11-15). Even still, the sovereign Lord still used Moses’ egregious mistake and turned it into good. Yet before Moses could experience the fullness of God’s perfect plan, he underwent some serious, spiritual refinement while in exile. He was a foreigner and a refugee in dry places of the wilderness.

After fleeing for his life because of the imperial threat against him, Moses found himself in the land of Midian. He would spend approximately 40 years in Midian (Acts 7:23; Exodus 7:7). Moses fled Egypt as a confident young man and came back as a humbled and wiser individual. Moses grew up in a palace where he didn’t belong. He was a Hebrew who was raised in Pharaoh’s courts even after Pharaoh had all the Hebrew boys murdered in the Nile River by drowning. Moses was eventually forced out of this place where he didn’t belong into exile. The land of Midian was a dry and barren place. He found himself as a foreigner and a refugee.

But God refined Moses in the land of MIdian. It was during this time where the desert and wilderness became his home, as a shepherd, as a nobody in the middle of nowhere. It was here where Moses found his home and a place of belonging (Exodus 2:21-22). Only later God would call him back to the place where he grew up but didn’t belong, to take God’s people out of the place where they belonged but weren’t welcomed. He would lead the people into the wilderness and into dry places where they didn’t belong, but would eventually make it their home for decades to come.

In exile Moses found refuge. In the wilderness Moses found God (Exodus 3). God does some of His best work in the “wilderness” experiences of our lives. In these dry and barren places we’re more apt to thirst for living water that actually satisfies. Wilderness experiences have a way of humbling us because they’re so disorienting and foreign. Jesus himself underwent and endured the wilderness of barrenness and hunger so that we might be satisfied in Him (Luke 4). He made the way possible. He endured without succumbing to weakness or temptation so that we might have life.

God is refining you and I for the exodus moments of our lives. Sometimes He draws us out of places of comfort, ease and apathy into foreign places and unfamiliar spaces. Don’t run away from these divine appointments no matter how disorienting they may be. Don’t pretend, put up religious facades or feign spiritual superiority when you’re in those dry places. God desires to eventually speak to you in the wilderness if we’re willing to listen. Lean in because God is in the wilderness. When we don’t feel our own pain and refuse to acknowledge our own dry and barren experiences, we end up not having much compassion. And when we lose compassion we’ve forgotten that we all were once a foreigner and a refugee. Befriend those in exile. Be kind to those in need. May you find God in the desert places of your spiritual lives!