There’s no way around it
No matter how strong your faith is, no matter how faithful your walk with God has been, and no matter where you are in life, you are going to have to go through the wilderness.
Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, and Jesus himself all had their times in the wilderness and you will too.
So, if you’re not presently having a wilderness experience, you’re bound to have one coming up or know someone who is.
That’s why I want to provide you with a little balm for the soul!
Because the wilderness experience can come with the feelings of depression, exhaustions, being spiritually and emotionally drained and being down right devastated.
This isn’t going to be a quick read, so you might want to prepare a warm beverage and get comfy before we begin.
If you’ve been through a series of devastating traumas and losses in the last several years, if your natural cheerful optimism has waned, if you have questions you wouldn’t dare to ask your own Pastor for fear of being seen as faithless, this article is for you.
Whether you’ve been in the wilderness for a while and you’re looking for an exit strategy, or you want to be better prepared to help someone else through their experience, this article will help you navigate the terrain and avoiding some of the pit falls and stumbling blocks.
Some of the lessons may be hard to read while you’re in your own personal wilderness, but I pray that as you read this, there will be an outpouring of healing oil all over your spiritual wounds. That these words will work as a spiritual dressings to bind up the hurting places and set them straight once more.
This article won’t solve all of your problems but it can help you find strength to go on when you are surrounded by challenges on all sides.
I pray that it will not only help now, but will also prepare you for your next personal wilderness and give you insight on how to be a good friend and steward to those who may also be going through a hard time themselves.
In this article you will learn the 5 biblical keys you need to navigate the wilderness.
- How you get into the Wilderness
- Why you need to be there
- What to expect and what to do while you’re there
- Who you will meet
- How to get out of the Wilderness
If your life has some darkness in it, or maybe it seems completely dark, there are many things you may not be able to see. I want to give you helpful advice and insights you need to see the things that might be hidden in your blind spots.
It is my great privilege and honour to help shine a little light your way and direct you on your journey.
I considered putting this information into a book, because I know that these keys are crucial to understanding what is going on when your out in there on your own and the advice you’re about to read is extremely valuable. However, I feel that it is crucial to get this message out now, so it can begin helping as many people as possible as soon as possible, without anyone having to deal with the burden of another price tag.
Too many individuals are wandering, feeling lost, alone, afraid, confused and judged. I hope you will take a moment to like, save and share this article so that it is readily available when you and others need it most.
What is the Wilderness?
The wilderness is a metaphor for a whole host of troubles – it is a liminal space – an in-between place where ordinary life is suspended, identity shifts and new possibilities emerge.
The Wilderness is a place of:
The Wilderness is a place where only God can sustain you, because it’s a place of danger. There’s no protection or shelter out there. You’re exposed and vulnerable. There are enemies, wild animals and bad weather. You’re hungry, thirsty, afraid and alone.
While in this wilderness, we can do one of two things;
Try to solve things ourselves – or – Cling to God for support.
The word wilderness is mentioned in the bible over 325 times. To me, that suggests that we could spend the better part of a year, or the majority of our life in a wilderness situation.
Therefore it would be wise to have a little bit of information about the landscape around us and what to expect so that we can traverse the terrain with wisdom and grace rather than wandering aimlessly feeling forgotten and abandoned.
It’s a long journey, so let’s begin.
How You Get Into The Wilderness
The wilderness is a unique experience reserved for the children of God.
While you and your Non-Christian friend may be going through the exact same situation in the natural world, there is an important distinction to be made. As a Christian you are never in it alone. You are journeying through the wilderness on your way to the promised land.
The way into the wilderness is through the water.
The wilderness is a spiritual experience that is subsequent to deliverance from bondage. Prior to that you may endure a lot of pain and suffering, but it is all part of living in a dying world under the oppression of sin.
After you accept the Son of God as your personal Lord and saviour, and acknowledge the fact that you need God in your life, you qualify for the wilderness experience.
In the wilderness that you learn the difference between knowing that God is supreme on an intellectual level and discovering it on a spiritual, emotional, physical and mental level
Moses went through the Red Sea and the water parted – Jesus went through the Jordan in baptism and Heaven parted.
It’s always God who directs us out into the wilderness, and He does so because He wants to get us to the Promised Land. The problem is that we, like the children of Israel, tend to get frustrated, start complaining, wander around, waste time and actually turn away from God while we are out there.
God uses the wilderness as a process of killing off our flesh and strengthening our spirit. Through the wilderness experience we begin an adventure that is meant to open a gateway to our very core. It is beyond this gateway that we can ask the most important questions of who we are and what we were created for.
It’s easy to end up to complaining and thinking about how much greener the grass is on the other side. We are so tempted to resist the process. We just want it to be over. We want the promised land. But God knows that if we try to enter into the promised land with our old ways of thinking and behaving, that we would inevitably spoil it.
He must take us through the refiners fire.
Why You Need To Be There
If you don’t know why you’re in the wilderness it is easy to begin asking questions like;
- Why is this happening to me?
- What did I do wrong?
- Doesn’t God love me?
- Am I not a good person?
I have been through the wilderness a few times now, which is what qualifies me to write this article and help guide you.
A year ago, our baby Chipo, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She had celebrated her first birthday a couple weeks before we discovered that she was dangerously sick and needed to be immediately hospitalized. I took her to the Emergency Room expecting to go home a couple hours later. I expected the nurses and Doctor to smile sweetly and send me home because the main symptoms I was concerned about were that my baby was crying, peeing and thirsty. I expected them to give me that look that says, “Oh you’re such a new mom, that’s what babies do. They cry, they pee and they drink a lot. After all, it was summer and she’s growing.”
My expectations were unceremoniously shattered!
Suddenly my little baby was being poked and pierced with so many needles. She was in severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and needed blood work and life saving IV’s but she was so dehydrated, despite drinking litters of water, that her little veins had collapsed and the nurses struggled to get the IV in. They had to try over and over again.
I am a very strong person, but witnessing this caused me to come close to fainting several times and cut to the very depths of my heart. My vision went, my knees buckled and the air left my lungs.
It took every ounce of strength that my husband and I had not to pick her up and get her out of there. But of course we couldn’t. They needed to get those blood samples and IVs because without them the wrong dose of life saving Insulin would kill her.
It was a terrifying, heart wrenching experience and I found myself asking a lot of Why Questions.
We’re the pastors of a church called Miracle Arena. So where was our Miracle? Why would God let us go through this? What had our little baby done to deserve this? How were we going to move forward and trust God?
For the next 5 months I dealt with severe anxiety, constantly fearing that our daughter’s blood sugar would drop dangerously low and we would loose her. After all, she couldn’t talk yet, she couldn’t tell us if she felt low. I slept very little. I cried a lot. I poked her poor little baby fingers endlessly. Eventually we got a hold of some technology that helped us track her blood sugar and provided a warning system and that helped a lot.
While having access to the technology was helpful, it did not mean that we were out of the woods. I still struggled to keep her blood sugar stable. Teething, growing, colds and fevers all sent her blood sugar through the roof. When other kids around us got a sniffle and we caught it, we ended up back in the emergency room.
As our daughter learned to speak, many of her first words were related to diabetes. Right there with Mama and Daddy were technical medical words like, bolus, insulin and pump site.
I continued to pray for a miracle. I still pray for a miracle.
I pray for a cure, so none of our babies have to suffer with this disease. I thank God for the invention of synthetic Insulin and the God fearing man who discovered how to use it to help others.
But what was the purpose behind all this pain and suffering?
Why does God take us into these God awful places?
One of the primary reasons we spend time in the desert is so we can learn to pray. In our pain and fear we cry out to God. We get down on our knees and pour our heart out to Him. In that place of bitter weeping we seek God. We call on Him for answers, comfort, peace, support and guidance.
In the wilderness we are forced to confront the fact that we are limited and totally dependant on God. When we are in pain, we reflect on what is truly important. Superficial things lose their hold and we go to a deeper more intimate place with God and those around us.
Our wilderness experiences helps us to see the big picture plan God has for us. Not just in this life, but in the life beyond death. It’s there in the place of uncertainty and want that we see significant spiritual growth. God uses experiential learning to help us see the parallels in our own lives and the lives of biblical characters like Moses, Hagar and Jesus. Through our pain and suffering we are able to step into the stories that are shared in the bible. This is an integral part of God’s desire to have us in an apprentice style relationship with Him.
Through these troubling times God speak truth to hungry souls.
What To Expect And What To Do While You’re In The Wilderness
You may have been walking with God for several years and suddenly you look around only to discover that you are in unfamiliar territory. The lifestyle you had grown accustom to, the blessings from God that you were enjoying and the helpful relationships that guided you have all vanished.
Things that use to come naturally are now a struggle. Your most basic needs are no longer being met. You’re on the verge of losing everything. You cry out to your good friend God and ask “What are you doing?”
Is this God, or am I under some kind of curse? Suddenly you feel angry, bitter, hurt, confused and abandoned. You pray, but it feels like you’re speaking to an empty sky.
Where is the God that speaks?
When you’re in the wilderness it is common to feel like you’ve been abandoned. The same God who once felt so close, is now so far away that you begin to wonder if He was ever really there at all. Maybe you made that whole spiritual awakening thing up in your own head.
This is an important part of the test.
One of the main reasons that God leads you into the wilderness is so that you can learn how to cling to God even when He appears to be absent.
It’s during this time that you must go back and recall all of His promises. You need to go back to the word of God and His covenant promises, and remind yourself of who is Lord of All.
When everything else is striped away and God feels far away hold on to the Word.
This is why it’s so important for Christians to have the scriptures written on our heart. Sometimes that is all we will have left. Think of Job, who never got an answer as to why he lost everything, but who held on to the belief that God is good, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Think of David, who should have been king, but was forced to run and hide in the caves.
Here are 10 verses that you should highlight in your bible and memorize so that you’ll have them when you need them.
“Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon His God.” (Isaiah 50:10)
“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalm 126:5)
I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage …” (Joshua 1:5)
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones, not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:19-20)
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17)
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in Him I will trust, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my Savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:2)
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14)
“I have fought the good fight of faith, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day” (2 Timothy 4:7)
When you’re struggling to endure the hardest parts of the journey, it helps to know that you’re being called to surrender, not strive. If you try to persurver accourding to your own strength, you’ll burn your self out.
You can grumble and complain about the mana that God is feeding you, or you can thank him for nurishing your body and soul. I strongly suggest the later.
Make the most of your desert time. Of course when you’re hurting and mourning it’s hard to find joy. There is no silver lining in the lost of a love one. There’s little comfort to be found in the face of death.
Hagar could not bare to watch her son Ishmael die in the wilderness.
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. (Genesis 21:15 – 16 )
Maybe you’re saying to yourself, it’s too late. Cancer won. The car crash happened. The child died. You prayed, you wept, you begged, and the answer was no.
What do you do then? If that’s the place where you’re at right now, I want to take a moment to pause and tell you how very sorry I am for your sorrow. You didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t God’s plan.
Our deepest pains are not orchastraed by God. God is good and although bad things do happen, He does not authorize them. He does not condon them. He will one day very soon turn the world upside down and pour out his judgement. But knowing that doesn’t make the sorrow any lighter.
The only thing you can do is keep moving forward. Like Naomi and Ruth, who lost all their loved ones, you’ve got to keep going because God’s not done with you yet. He has a plan in which all things are working for your good. It may be hard to see from where you’re at, but God’s looking at the big picture and He knows where He is taking you. If you’ll hang in there, He will get you out of there.
Who You’ll Meet In The Wilderness
There are some key players you’re likely to encounter in the wilderness.
Moses encountered God while he was wandering around in the back hills of the Midan desert. He saw the burning bush and decided to go and check it out. It’s important to know that it’s not unusal to see a bush spontaiously burst into flames under the hot desert sun. That’s something that would have been facinating, but not unheard of. The reason the bush caught Moses attention was because it didn’t burn up. This is what lead Moses to investigate.
Imagine for a moment where Moses might have been emotionally. He had been the Prince of Egypt. He had power, respect, authority, distinction. He wanted to help his people. He was so passionate about dealing with the injustice that he kills an Egyptian and gets himself kicked out of Egypt to go die in the wilderness. Now instead of controlling a nation, he is in charge of someone elses sheep and it’s so hot out that bushes are bursting into flames.
Now, God shows up and shares the details of how He is sending Moses back to Egypt to deliver His chosen people from the hands of Pharo. If you thought things were bad before, they’re about to get a lot harder.
When God steps on to the scene, don’t expect things to get easier. Often times He is going to turn up the heat and polish you a little more.
Thankfully, when God gives us an assignment He also gives us helpers. God will statigically line up the right people to come along side you and support you through the mission.
Just like Aaron was assigned to Moses and Ruth to Naomi helpers are there to help you carry the load. They will come up along side you and lift the burden off your shoulders so that you can breath for a moment.
Even Jesus needed a helper when he was carrying the cross to Calvary. Real missions and battles can’t be won single handedly. God wants us to walk in unity. With one heart. Caring for eachother. Loving one another. He blesses us with those who will hold our hand, wipe our tears, cook a casarol or just show up when things fall apart.
Helpers are part of God’s plan to comfort and bless us during times of trial and difficulty. They are the evidence that we are not alone.
It can be tempting to try and push other people away because our pain is too great, but if we are wise we will remain open to the love that God is trying to minister to us through those around us.
Many people encounter angels in the wilderness. They tend to appear in order to redirect us, minister to us or bring a message from God.
Some examples include;
Angels ministering to Christ after His temptation by the Devil.
“Then the Devil left Him, and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him” (Matthew 4:11).
Some situations are beyond human comfort. In special circumstances God will send angels to minister to the broken hearted. Sometimes we see them as strangers who come alongside us to bless us in a highly unusal way. Sometimes we can only sense their presence.
The wilderness is Satan’s backyard. This is where he has more power, authority and persuasion. You can most definetely expect to see him and his demons anytime you’re out and about in the wilderness.
He will show up with temptaions and accusations. His only goal is to get you so far off course that you have no idea which way is up. He will use every trick in the book to try and get you to deny God, deny who you are in Christ and to surrender your power and authority over the forces of evil.
Make sure that like Jesus, you’re armed with the word of God, so that when this firery foe shows up, you have the wisdom to be able to side step his temptations.
The Devil is only there to tempt you to turn from God during your hardest times. So hold fast to your love for God and don’t let Satan paint a picture of despare in your heart.
How To Get Out Of The Wilderness
We just learned that Satan shows up in the wilderness to try to get us off track, and that’s a very successful tactic because one thing we want more than anything is to get out of the wilderness, and any shortcut to the Promised land will look extremely tempting.
The problem is that God has a path that is uniquely designed just for us. He wants to guide us step by step so that He can purify our hearts and strengthen our faith to be able to prosper in the Promised land.
If you try to short cut your way to the end, you only get further lost down winding roads that go no where.
This is why it took the Isralites 40 years to get through the desert. Sometimes were not ready for the healing. Sometimes were not ready to let go of the past.
The wilderness is many things, including a place of forgivness. One of the surest paths out is often the hardest. To forgive those who have hurt us.
Failing to do so can cause us to lose precious time and many years of our lives wandering through swamps of sorrow, pits of grief and pools of pain.
God does not want us to dwell in the desert forever. In fact one of the primary reasons He sent His Son to us, was to give us the most direct path through the wilderness.
“I am the way the truth and the light, No one comes to the father except through me”(John 14:6)
Jesus came to make the mountains low and the crooked path straight. We have a personal guide right in our heart.
We all have to go through the wilderness, but we no longer have to waste years of our life wandering in despare. Rough ways, the things that get you tired and ultimately destroy you, are made smooth.
Finally, it is a direct journey – No more wandering- No more being lost.
The wilderness experience can and should be a blessing.
In the desert and dry places you will be trained, strengthend and empowered.
When you enter into the Promised land, be sure to make good use of everything you learned during your wilderness expereience.
Please take a moment and ask God to bring to mind someone who would be truly blessed by reading this article and send it to them right away. Someone is struggling and these words may help to heal, direct and encourage them on their way.
God Bless You!
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