From The Wilderness
We are all taking a journey through the wilderness, heading toward the land God has promised us. So what exactly is the “wilderness?”
The best definition I (Candice) can give you is this: it’s a place in life you’d rather not be in, a place of dissatisfaction where you know something better exists. It can be the difficult place you find yourself in today. It can be an unfulfilling career, a broken marriage, or the sting of loneliness that doesn’t go away. It’s the place where you’re humbled and stripped bare – the place of not knowing and not understanding. God may lead you on a path where a shroud of mystery covers your way.
Let’s face it, at times we all walk into a place we didn’t ask for, a place where we might never have chosen to go. If you’re feeling crowded, stressed, and locked into a place you’d rather run from – that is your wilderness! It can be called a “season of discontent.” It is a time in your life when you feel stuck, unable to get out of it on your own. It can feel like you’re in a waiting room and you’re thinking, How much longer can I handle this, Lord?
Testing Before the Mission
That has been my experience more than once. After we finished Bible school and our missionary training, we were ready to go to the mission field. We were ready to give ourselves to reach a tribe of people that had never heard the gospel. We were excited and knew that God was calling us. But we soon learned that knowing God’s will is not the same as knowing his timing.
When we were ready to move forward, our finances had totally dried up. Brian had to step away from ministry for a season and find employment to take care of the needs of our family of five. God opened a door for him to work at an aircraft factory, where he was given the title, “Utility Worker,” meaning he was the one who fueled the airplanes when they first came out of the factory ready for their test flight. During the testing of the aircraft, he kept it fueled and ready to fly. But our hearts were set and ready to go to the mission field. We wanted to go to the jungle; fueling airplanes was never on our radar.
But it wasn’t just the airplanes being taken on a “test flight”; Brian was also being tested. That season seemed to last longer than his patience. He still remembers the day he was fueling up a turboprop with his hands freezing cold, telling God that he loved him more than ministry and that he would do anything just to be closer to him. He would even fuel airplanes if that’s what God wanted.
It wasn’t very long after that prayer that the season changed. Finances came in, and we moved forward and set a date to go to Panama. God broke through the limitation of Brian’s wilderness when Brian set God first in everything, including ministry. God is so good!
What about you? Have you been waiting and waiting for your season to change? Do you feel limited and confined in a place that can only be described by the word, wilderness?
Some of the negative things associated with the wilderness include testing, trial, persecution, suffering, spiritual dryness, and what the ancient writers describe as the “dark night of the soul.” But the positive, life-giving discoveries far outweigh the pain and perplexity of it all. We must return to authentic humility, simplicity, renewed gratefulness for the smallest of pleasures, the kisses of God that bring restoration, and the cup of joy running over again, even in the “jungle” of life.
Embracing the Mystery
As a result of the fall, the wilderness became a physical reality on Earth. But even though the wilderness was released on the Earth as part of the curse, God is a redemptive God and uses the wilderness not as a means to harm us, but as a part of our spiritual re-creation. Satan’s plan to harm us backfires if we allow the wilderness to do its perfecting work in us. The apostle Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 10:11:
All the tests they endured on their way through the wilderness are a symbolic picture; an example which provides us with a warning, so that we can learn through what they experienced. For we live in a time when the purpose of all the ages past is now completing its goal within us.
So, all that happened in the wildernesses of the Old Testament was meant to be object lessons for you and me. It’s true that we can learn from what they experienced, but that doesn’t mean you and I are exempt from our own wilderness experience.
We wrongly assume that we must understand everything today. But there are questions that you cannot google an answer for. There are things and places that Wikipedia doesn’t even have a listing for! We hate not knowing what God is doing in our lives, yet it is rare that we perceive the “why” until we graduate to our next season. In our wilderness we press for the meaning of the mysteries of our lives and demand answers that may not exist – or at least we are not meant to know why until we carry more of Christ within.
Somehow, in our wilderness, we must be content to not understand everything, to not be offended with God’s treatment of us, and to be willing to “faithfully embrace the mysteries of faith while keeping a clean conscience,” (1Timothy 3:9). At times, some of the greatest miracles we discover in the desert are the miracles that God releases within us. Christ conquers our soul when we run out of answers.
Every mystery becomes a miracle if we will wait. Most of what Jesus taught was not always understood immediately by those who knew him best. Later they understood what they had received. There must grow inside our souls a willingness to hear what we do not understand and treasure it within, even if we can do nothing about it until the time comes for the mystery to end.
We all want the miracles of God, but are we faithful to embrace the wilderness that is required to upgrade our hearts and make us ready for miracle power? New “apostolic technology” is available. It is the working of miracles – but it may take a day or two in the desert to get us there. So don’t lose heart! Even in a wilderness, God can work in power. Often it takes a wilderness to make us desperate and thirsty for a move of the Spirit. We can expect no shortage of miracles, for God is with us no matter where we are. So what’s there to fear? Nothing at all!
Things you’ve never planned are waiting for you as you walk on this path through the wilderness. This is the place where miracles are found, the place where glory waits and hides. A cloud of fire, a burning bush, a tabernacle of God’s presence, a miracle in the making is waiting for you there. It is a sure promise that every believer can experience: your wilderness will bloom with new life, and the beautiful Rose will appear. So let’s learn more about our destiny and how to find this place of miracles, this place called the wilderness.
I am a God who stands watch over you at all times. My eyes rest upon you, not just observing you, but protecting you, keeping you in my care. I provide untold favors for you, guarding you from the temptation that is too great for you – all because I love you! When I consider you, my heart is stirred to act on your behalf. There is no need for worry or anxiety, for my hand is upon you and I will lead you. I ask for a deeper kind of confidence that goes beyond the moment and endures for a lifetime. Trust me, and you will never be disappointed.