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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Joy in the Journey (Even in the Wilderness!)

I love the word "wilderness" in the scriptures. It's used over and over in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Each time I read the word, I think of my own wanderings, and try to learn how characters in the scriptures have learned and grown from theirs ... or not. For example, Moses's people wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Why? Did the Lord not know yet where he wanted them to go? Were they lost, even with a prophet to lead them? No. They needed yest to be humbled. . .to be tested. I can actually visualize myself, wandering around and around in circles in the wilderness I create for myself: my pride, my sins, my envyings.

Another good example is when Lehi was called to take his family out of Jerusalem, into the wilderness. In this example, I think the wilderness represents the great unknown: stepping out of our comfort zones, daring to reach into the darkness for the hand of the Lord. Do we have enough faith, that during our uncertain times we will have the faith to follow God . . . away from the world, and let Him lead us?

In Matthew 4:1, we read of the wilderness again: "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." The Savior, himself entered the wilderness, our own respective wildernesses, in order to understand the temptations, the wanderings, the confusion, the pain, the uncertainties which we have and will experience here on Earth.

Are you wandering in the wilderness today? If you are, remember that the Lord will lead you. By His word and your faith, he will guide you to your own promised land, just as the liahona guided Nephi. In the meantime, wilderness journeying begets humility, faith, learning, and increased testimony. And though your own wilderness may seem barren and deserted, remember that manna from heaven fed the children of Israel as they wandered. Likewise, our father in heaven will feed us and care for us as we seek our eternal destination. Meanwhile, we can find joy in our journey.