by Brittney Burton

Gratefulness filled the atmosphere of the 13th Birthday Celebration that took place on Monday, March 6th as L. LeBron Wilson II ministered with several songs, including “All of My Praise”, during the special worship service.

Many a crowd stood up throughout the evening as Dr. Lance Watson of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Richmond, VA taught about God’s providing-power during his sermon entitled, “Working Your Way through His Wilderness”.

Using 1 Samuel 27:1-4 MSG as a Biblical context, Dr. Watson explained David’s experience as he lived nearly 10 years as a fugitive while trying to escape Saul. With the “Wilderness” as a spiritual metaphor for tough moments in life, Dr. Watson taught that neither an anointing, socioeconomic status, nor being chosen by God will exempt a person from experiencing the “Wilderness” at some point in life. He asked the following question: “Have you ever logged any time in the ‘Wilderness’?”

Although every wilderness looks the same from afar, the crowd was taught that every wilderness has its own characteristics if you’re in it. This is why it’s important to be kind to one another. He said, “all of us have a struggle to face…a tragedy to transcend…a question to answer, a problem to solve…and a burden we have to bear”.

Dr. Watson encouraged the crowd to work through the wilderness with God’s help, despite our first instinct of trying to escape. Similarly to David focusing on his own ability (vs.1), Dr. Watson also encouraged a focal-shift advising it’s a recipe for depression whenever we focus (more) on our own ability instead of God’s ability.

“We are not alone in the “Wilderness”.

“God is always there…and God is at work,” said Dr. Watson. God provides even in the wilderness of our lives by way of people and provision is what the congregation was taught on Monday night. For David, this was demonstrated when God assembled a group of people around him who included family and many others who were in distress, discontentment, and hostile surroundings where prayer was crucial to their survival.

Dr. Watson advised that we have a sacred place in our spirit to live with other people who are in process (bitter, broken, angry, dynamic, and dysfunctional). In the “Wilderness”, God defined a people by what He had done for them and what He had done in them as He has a way of turning it around for us: “God is perfect, but His people are in process,” said Dr. Watson.

“It’s in the middle of dysfunction, disloyalty, disunity that God perfects His cause,” he expressed. The congregation learned how God deliberately chooses the “nobodies” as none of us can get by blowing our own horn as it wasn’t because of us but by Him that we make it through. “God can get something out of everything in your life,” said Dr. Watson.

Provision is another way that God provides. Dr. Watson suggested that God will provide “whatever is necessary for you to achieve God’s purpose and His plan.” For David, this provision took the form of a town called Ziklag, which was assigned to him after providing excellent service to Achish a Philistine King. Ziklag represented a community of grace given to us. Dr. Watson explained that it’s in Ziklag where our testimonies develop and we learn to think. It’s also where we learn to speak, educate, dream, fight, and get up – which is why God expects us to share our testimonies of distress, debt, and discontentment as we all have had to go through something to get here.

Using Psalm 107:2 as reference, Dr. Watson explained how God expects us to share in the context of our community [and] in the Ziklags of where we live. Part of God’s provision is not just the place, but the people. Dr. Watson advised, “Us – with our doubts, fears, reservations, fears, grumbles, negatives, moody, shifty, too-important-to-be-involved, too arrogant, too-cute-to-contribute, too-sophisticated-to-serve […] God’s provision for us is us.

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