I will make a pathway through the wilderness. Isaiah 43:19 NLT
As part of this current season, the Lord revealed that my time in ministry was a positive, powerful wilderness experience. I felt His nudge suggesting that I had been blind to the things God was doing. Let’s take a walk together.
God places us in the wilderness
Our wilderness experience is very much God-initiated. God intentionally places us in the wilderness so that He can introduce Himself to us in a deeper and more profound way. No one can enter into the wilderness unless they are called by God. In Hosea’s day, God led Israel through the wilderness to woo the nation back to Himself (Hosea 2:14). We all enter the wilderness when the Spirit of God calls to our heart and we repent.
The wilderness is all part of God’s design. We will normally be well into a wilderness experience before we consciously know that we are. If we knew we were about to enter the wilderness, we would most likely want to delay it by a few days, weeks, months, or years . . . truth be told. No one knows how long God will leave them in the wilderness. The experience can last for days or for years.
The spiritual wilderness feels different for different people. The ultimate purpose of the wilderness is not only to develop a deep transforming faith, but to develop a profoundly energetic and rewarding intimate connection with God.
The wilderness is not intended for unbelievers who have not been called out or delivered. Soul-searching and self-examination are the things that takes place in the wilderness.
So how do you know when you are in the wilderness of God?
The Wilderness Test
It is in the wilderness that God desires to teach, try, and test us. This testing makes us strong and serves to purify us. Sometimes we have the idea that judgment, testing, trials, and temptations are a bad thing. However, while they hurt at the time, none of these things have to be bad. They are intended to make us stronger. The only way that they are bad is if we do not pass the test. We must learn to apply the His teaching and instructions to every test, trial and temptation.
God desires for us to be holy, faithful and broken. Brokenness is difficult and can be hard, but it means that God is transforming our body, minds and soul to His will. Like a potter with a piece of clay, He wants to re-make us into the vessel that He desires us to be. This will not happen without tests, trials and temptations. This is the wilderness test!
The wilderness is both terrifying and a great place to be if we rely on Him and what He has to teach us. The season are sometimes, brutal. But the hope that sustains us in these seasons reminds us that God is there, doing some of His most powerful work.
He uses difficult seasons to prepare for things ahead—things sometimes far greater than we could ever achieve without the pain we are now walking through.
The wilderness also provides space in which to become more aware of God’s presence. It is that place where God hides us from public view and prepares us for His purposes.
Exit the wilderness
This might seem strange, but one can only exit the wilderness once God has made a pathway to exit. Many believers experience a wilderness time and yet I believe they fail to see the pathway God has provided to them to leave. This has been my experience.
For me, taking a new path the Lord created saw me stumble my way through, yet, inevitably it brought me closer to the Lord. As I followed His path to exit the wilderness He poured out for me His power and His grace, drawing me closer to Him and experiencing a deep abiding intimacy with the Lord Jesus – this is God’s ultimate goal for each of us
It was only when I exited the wilderness that I noticed that I have become fully armoured, battle ready and worn, fully mature and ready to inherit the promised land that God has prepared for me.
My exit came with a challenge:
“If my life to this point has been an intensive training course for the road ahead, what has it taught me that will help me accurately chart this next stage of the journey?”
The wilderness is a place between you and the manifestation of God’s promise in your life. Until we embrace and enjoy the wilderness, our ability to handle God’s best for us is, at best, weak and incomplete.