Wild Satisfaction

Posted by Jeff Richardson
On March 19, 2024

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart…”

Deuteronomy 8:2

The wilderness is a great teacher. Its lessons are rarely pleasant, but they are always effective. God has used wilderness as a teaching tool for all of human history. Adam and Eve were taken out of the garden, and put into the wilderness. The patriarchs all walked through seasons of wilderness. Moses went through 2 seasons of wilderness. David had to flee into the wilderness. Even Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tested…

As a first responder, you may not find yourself surrounded by trees and wildlife, you may be stationed downtown in a metropolis, but you are familiar with wilderness. I worked as a paramedic for 10 years before going into vocational ministry. I know well the long 24-hour shifts away from home, missing important family moments, and being confronted with the worst of humanity day after day after day. This is where burnout lives. This is where our Kingdom witness falters.
But the Lord is sovereign, and the Lord uses seasons of wilderness. In Deuteronomy 8:2, God isn’t learning, He is teaching us what is in our hearts. What is most important to us? Where do we look for peace, joy, satisfaction?

If we are looking to anything, or anyone, other than Jesus – We will not have peace, joy, or satisfaction.

Jeff Richardson

Dallas Willard says this: “Human desire is infinite by its nature. You must take your stand against it because you cannot satisfy it. Desire is infinite partly because we were made by God, made for God, made to need God, and made to run on God. We can be satisfied only by the one who is infinite, eternal, and able to supply all our needs; we are only at home in God. When we are distanced from God, the desire for the infinite remains, but it is displaced upon things that will certainly lead to destruction” God uses those seasons of suffering, those long shifts, those terrible calls, those difficult partners to teach us where we still are looking for satisfaction somewhere besides Him.

I felt called to the ministry for 5 years before I was brought on staff at our church. That was 5 long years of knowing where God wanted me, and still working on an ambulance. Years of frustration with ‘frequent flyers’, DUI fatalities, and pediatric codes. It was also 5 years of the Lord teaching me that my identity was as a chosen royal priest: not just a medic. 5 years of learning that my ambulance was a mission field. 5 years of learning how to be content in the wilderness, by learning how to be content in Christ. Even though my job wasn’t what I wanted.

David wrote Psalm 63 from the wilderness. I encourage you to go read it.

David had been anointed (called) as the next king of Israel but had not been crowned yet. Instead of a coronation, he was given exile- he was forced into a season of wilderness by the current king who wanted to kill him. Despite his circumstances, David is able to write, “My soul is satisfied.” His soul was satisfied in the worst of circumstances, in the wilderness: because he was seeking the Lord. He was not seeking the kingship, the kingdom, the riches, the power, the women, the fame. He wanted God more than all of that. And you know what? The Lord was there with David and satisfied his soul.

This season of wilderness is not for nothing. Paul says it is working an eternal weight of glory. It has purpose. Don’t convince yourself you are a victim. Don’t try to rush the Lord’s time. Don’t try to medicate your suffering with other things. Instead: change your desire. Seek the Lord earnestly, completely. You can always have Him, and He will satisfy you like nothing else, no matter your circumstances. Find your identity in Christ alone. You will not find true and lasting satisfaction anywhere else in this world. 

Jeff Richardson
Associate Pastor, Director of Pastoral Care at The Chapel Cleveland in Tennessee. Former paramedic at Hamilton EMS.

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