”Boy Survives in Wilderness by Obeying Father’s Instructions.” More than ninety people conducted an all-night search for an eight-year-old boy named Dominic. While on a skiing trip with his father, this little boy apparently had ridden a new lift and skied off the run without realizing it. They hoped to find Dominic somewhere on the snowy mountain slope before it was too late.
As each hour passed, the search party and the boy’s family became more and more concerned. By dawn they still had found no trace of him. Two helicopters joined the search, and within fifteen minutes had spotted ski tracks. A ground team followed the tracks which changed to small footprints. The footprints led to a tree where they found the boy at last.
“He’s in super shape,” Sgt. Terry Silbaugh, area search and rescue Coordinator, announced to the anxious family and press. “In fact, he’s in better shape than we are right now.” A hospital spokesman said the boy was in fine condition and was not even admitted.
Silbaugh explained why the boy did so well despite spending a night in the freezing elements of the wilderness: His father had enough forethought to warn the boy what to do if he became lost, and his son had enough trust to do exactly what his father said.
Dominic protected himself from possible frostbite and hypothermia by snuggling up to a tree and covering himself with branches. As a young child he never would have thought of doing this on his own. He was simply obeying his wise and loving father. (From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, How To Dwell In Jesus’ Love, 11/2/2009).
The idea of a wilderness plays a prominent role in Scripture. Hagar and Ishmael were sent into it (Genesis 21), Moses and the Israelites wandered in it (Exodus 12), David escaped to it (1 Samuel 23), Jesus was led to it (Mark 1) and the woman clothed into the sun fled to it (Revelation 12). In fact, the word translated “wilderness” occurs nearly 300 times throughout God’s Word.
The wilderness is often thought of a desolate place where discomfort and trials are present. It certainly was for Jesus during His temptation and for the people of Israel as the were forced to wander in it for forty years.
When people speak of a “wilderness experience” their most likely speaking of a time of testing or of spiritual endurance. But, as we see in our opening illustration, it doesn’t have to be a time of failure.
Sometimes the wilderness regions in life serve to strengthen and prepare. Our young boy, Dominic, put the things he had learned to the test and survived because of it. He remembered what His father had told him and came through with flying colors and, I dare say, a wiser person because of it.
Just like Dominic, we have a father who has been preparing us for our “wilderness experiences.” Through word and deed, He has prepared us to face the inevitable wastelands that life presents us with and strengthens us through testing and trial to build us up with wisdom.
God’s ultimate goal is to prepare us for whatever may test us, and He promises to be with us to the end where we will eventually find our peace, from Ezekiel 34:25, “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.”
Notice here that God doesn’t promise to lead us from the wilderness. The wilderness will always be there. Rather, He promises to prepare us for the wilderness so that we may dwell there in peace.
Again, from Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Even in the wilds and rough country of our everyday existence, we need not feel afraid, because our Father in heaven will prepare us and He will make a way for us in the wilderness and provide for us streams of water in the desert. Our only duty is to trust in Him.
Are you facing the wilds of life? Trust in God to guide you to green pastures and still waters (Psalm 23). He will be there to guide you even in the mists of the wilds. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for preparing us for the wilderness and for being there to shelter us from harm. Help us to always trust in your loving care. Amen.