Wilderness…have you spent time there? Years ago my husband and I took an unforgettable vacation, driving from Tennessee to California and visiting popular tourist sites along the way.
We crossed desert areas—miles of brown loneliness. Fighting anxiety over what might happen if our car broke down in the unbearable heat, I felt huge relief and a sense of safety when we drew closer to populated areas.
My computer thesaurus offers these synonyms for wilderness: wilds, rough country, backwoods, wasteland, boondocks. Have you seen brochures advertising these vacation spots? Not likely.
Our journey with Christ may include wilderness places.Our journey with Christ may include wilderness places. Click To Tweet
Lonely, confusing wastelands that seem to stretch for miles…years.
An unexpected detour took me there. I didn’t deliberately veer off course, and nothing catastrophic caused it. Looking back, it was a gradual slipping under a heavy load. I found myself in a barren wasteland of brown loneliness.
Hesitant to talk about it, I admitted to close friends my “discouragement” but offered no details. I couldn’t explain what happened—I didn’t know what happened! Crying out to God for understanding and begging for deliverance from this emptiness, I did all I knew to do—study the Bible, pray, and cling to Jesus.
He didn’t speak in a blaring voice but in soft whispers, giving bits of encouragement—wisdom to recognize the place…a wilderness. That word cropped up repeatedly in my Bible reading, my daily devotional Streams in the Desert, and hymns at church.
He widened my vision to identify purpose. He was leading me into closer fellowship, teaching me to lean on him as my all in all—a term I’d never understood—and to cast myself fully on him, all I am and have.
He reminded me that before he began his public ministry, the Spirit led him into the wilderness “to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1 NIV). The evil one didn’t just happen to show up at that vulnerable time. The encounter was divinely arranged—for a definite time and purpose. Was my time in the wilderness designed—preparation for something? Only God knew.
In his time he began leading me to a spacious place, a wide and wonderful place, bright and inviting, full of promise, mentioned in the Psalms.
“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (18:19). “You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place” (31:8).
But I’ve never forgotten what I learned in the wilderness experience.
The wilderness is a stripping place…a dying place…a sanctifying place…a renewing place.The wilderness is a stripping place…a dying place…a sanctifying place…a renewing place. Click To Tweet
There God brings us to the end of ourselves that we might rely totally on him.
Moses had a wilderness experience. After impulsively slaying an Egyptian he saw mistreating an Israelite, he fled to the desert. “And when forty years had gone by, there appeared to him in the wilderness (desert) of Mount Sinai an angel, in the flame of a burning bramblebush…there came to him the voice of the Lord, saying…come! I will send you back to Egypt [as My messenger]” (see Acts 7:30-34 Amplified).
Numbers 12:3 (NIV) tells us, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” I’m thinking the wilderness had done its work, stripping him of everything—all self-confidence and self-sufficiency—so the Lord could become his all in all.
If you’ve been stripped, you know it. If you don’t know it, you haven’t been. We never forget the stripping place.
The wilderness is for a season and a purpose.
If you’re there, God may be getting ready to do something big in your life to display his glory in a greater way than ever before.
Adopt this mindset for your wilderness place: I’m here on purpose. God designed this. He arranged all the circumstances. From my vantage point, the future looks bleak. He sees it from another angle. And what he’s doing is covered with purpose. Put your confidence here:
He brought out his people with rejoicing,
his chosen ones with shouts of joy…
He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains.
(Psalm 105:43, 107:14 NIV).
A prayer for your wilderness place: I’m in your hands, Lord. Help me to stay there and be content…even in the wilderness.
Have you spent time in the wilderness? Please comment. And share this post with friends who feel lost in a wilderness today.
© Dianne Barker 2018