I’ve never met anyone who was excited about a trip into the wilderness…spiritually speaking. Yet a proper understanding of the wilderness experience for the believer in Christ will bring a new appreciation for the wilderness.
First, let’s determine What the Wilderness is…
The wilderness is the lack of the tangible presence of God. Notice the word “tangible.” The Scriptures indicate that God is omnipresent. Check out Psalm 139:7-12. However, there is also manifest presence of God. Manifest is defined as “readily perceived by the senses, to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.” It is the absence of the manifest presence of God to which I refer as tangible. We have all seen God show us things through His manifest presence in our lives. When that doesn’t happen over a period of time, we begin to feel that God is no longer with us.
The wilderness is the season when God’s promises seem far off. Job had that experience as expressed in Job 23:8-10. Sometimes we feel God call us to something, and it seems that nothing happens for a season to bring that promise to fruition.
The wilderness is a season of testing. Deut. 8:2 instructs us that the wilderness experience brings testing, training, and preparation for the very purposed to which God has called us.
Second, let’s state What the Wilderness is NOT…
The wilderness is not God’s punishment. God’s plan was not to punish the Israelites, but to lead them to a huge blessing…the Promised Land. They were led through the desert initially, because they were not prepared for what they would face. They ultimately stayed in the wilderness for 40 years because of disobedience. John Bevere states, “You cannot shorten the wilderness experience that God has designed for you, but you can lengthen it.”
Romans 5:3-4 gives us the true purpose of the wilderness. Suffering builds perseverance; perseverance produces character; character give way to hope; and hope never puts to shame. James 1:2-4 echoes Paul’s teaching. Therefore, we can declare: I am not just GOING through the wilderness, I am GROWING through the wilderness.
The wilderness is not being put on the shelf until God’s ready to use you. In the wilderness, God gave instructions to the Israelites to fight–not to sit around and wait to be used. We are not intended to to give up–walk away–or quit. If God gives us a vision, we must fight for it. Remember, God never wastes a single moment in time.
Moses went through many wilderness experiences. Joseph, who had a vision that he would be great, was sold into slavery in the wilderness. Job, a righteous man, suffered many infirmities and losses. David was to be king, yet he was repeatedly chased and his life was threatened by King Saul. Jesus was led into the wilderness for testing. Yet all these and more, endured, grew, and hoped, and they were not disappointed.
Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that God never leaves us and never forsakes us. Consider the call God has for you–the vision he has given to you. Write it down. Write it in BOLD LETTERS. Read His Word and trust Him. He will bring it to pass as we are faithful and obedient to Him.
GOD WILL FINISH WHAT HE STARTED IN ME. (Phil. 1:6)
GOD IS PREPARING ME FOR WHAT HE HAS PLANNED FOR ME. (Rom. 8:28)
GOD IS WITH ME. (Heb. 13:5)