Image Credit:Miguel Vieira via creativecommons.org
There comes a time in every believer’s life, where God ‘lures’ us to the desert or wilderness. I say lures because the only way to get to the desert is through obedience to an instruction, God never forces His people to do anything. According to Strong’s® Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the Greek word for wilderness implies solitude, being solitary. Contrary to popular belief, the wilderness is not specifically a place of hardship, you do experience hardship in the wilderness, more than most would consider “normal” however, this is not the reason God calls us to the wilderness. The wilderness as God intends it, is a place of spiritual refuge; a place of betrothal; a place where he prepares to shift you to where you ought to be according to His plans.
Hosea 2:14 “Therefore behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.” KJV
Hosea 2:14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.” NLT
The wilderness is a time of separation from the people and things that no longer have a place in your life. It is a time to deal with personal temptations, a time to get closer to God and get equipped for God’s purpose in our lives; this of course is a choice; what I mean is, we make the choice to deal with personal temptation, we make the choice to get closer to God, we make the choice to learn, it doesn’t happen automatically. Everyone’s wilderness experience is different e.g. Jesus’ time in the wilderness was 40 days, in which he fasted and prayed and dealt with temptation from the devil, at the end of it, he was baptized, and entered right into his ministry. Joseph spent an unspecified time in slavery and then in prison, and then he became the Egyptian Prime Minister. Moses was in the wilderness 40 years after which he was sent to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Then of course we have the Israelites who spent 40 years in the desert because they refused to leave Egypt behind, and they refused to learn the lessons they needed to enable them to handle the Promised Land. I would like to share with you some lessons I have learned in my wilderness.
My Strength Comes from God Alone.
God is my strength at all times and in all things, He alone is my El Sali. He is my rock, my shelter, my fortress, my strong tower. There is nothing that can shake me while I am planted in Him. Things will, and did get hard, but I have learned to trust in Him to hold me up, shield and protect me. We live in an age where being strong in and of ourselves is a requirement, and we learn this right after learning our A.B.Cs. The cynicism in the world teaches that the only one you can and should rely on is yourself, and I had bought into that lie, hook line and sinker, I was strong y’all. Plus I was in an industry that required me to be ‘strong’ if I wanted to hold my own, and if I wanted to play with the big boys. I was hardened, but I have learned that I don’t need to be strong, that’s on my Daddy, and He says so in His word.
Psalm 61:3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. KJV
Psalms 18:2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. KJV
Habakkuk 3:19a The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.KJV
God Will Surely Provide
This is probably the most important lesson I have learned during this time. It is hard to come from being gainfully employed, and “in charge” of my own life, to moving back home with my parents without so much as a financial safety net. Yes honey, I had to move back home with my parents when I had been living on my own for 5 years. Throughout this period (just to be clear… when I stopped stressing), I have learned that God is truly, and always will be my Jehovah Jireh, after all the earth and the fullness thereof belong to Him. I have learned that no matter how insignificant the need seems to me, He sees it, and He will provide, I need only ask in faith.
God is my first love, because He first loved me.
I have had a lot of time to reflect back on my life, and it really hit home for me that the enemy was out to kill me, and I don’t mean this figuratively. I also realized that but for the grace of God, and the fact that He has a plan for my life; I would be dead and buried. God loved me so much that He sent His only begotten son to die on the cross, so that I may have life, and have it in abundance. If I never do anything else with my life besides tell Him and try to show Him how much I love Him every day, I’m good. His gift of life is worth it.
His Grace is sufficient for me
2 Corinthians 12:9a And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. KJV
I have learned that in every circumstance, with every step, through every trial and every triumph His grace is sufficient for me. Grace is described as God’s free and unmerited favor. His grace has taught me to bite my tongue, His grace has held me when I cried, and His grace has taught me what I needed from each experience. His grace has given me people who have supported and encouraged me to remain on the path of obedience, people who have covered me in prayer even as they themselves are struggling, and who give it to me straight as the Lord leads them. Every day I experience a new dimension of His grace.
I am because God is.
The reason I exist is because God willed it, and as such, my key responsibility is to remain in His will. As long as I am submitted to His will, He will guide and lead me all the way. This is not to say that it will always be smooth sailing, but His grace will always, always be sufficient.
The Only Opinion That Matter’s is God’s Opinion
As long as I am submitted to God, and walking in obedience to Him, the peanut gallery (read family, friends and other “well wishers”) can talk all they want, after all, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have had to deal with all sorts of questions, and commentary regarding the direction; or lack thereof; of my life. There have been suggestions made, some accusations of laziness, speculation of what am I really up to and so on. I am not that thick skinned any more (refer to God is my strength) so it hurt, and I cried a lot, but through my tears God told me that the only opinion that should matter to me is His. I have now learned to let the peanut gallery’s comments roll off me like water off a duck’s back, and to let God handle it. This was also a separation of sorts, separation from people’s opinions, which dealt with the people pleaser in me, and now allows me to say NO without feeling guilty, and focusing on God’s voice which incidentally is the only voice I should be listening to anyway.
Spending time with God should be a pleasure and a joy; it should NEVER be a chore.
The one area of my life that has, until recently, been of great concern to me is my quiet time. By nature, I’m an introvert, so you would think quiet time would be easy for me right, wrong. I thought quiet time was supposed to be a somber, solemn time (you know a bit like when you get called into the principal’s office) so you know I was doing it by rote, and because the Holy Spirit was teaching me and taking me through the word, and giving me revelations; I figured I was good, except my spirit was bereft and because it was, I was feeling some kinda way. Then it was brought to my attention that God hears me all the time anyway, so why not speak to Him, like I do my close friends, no holds barred, no thine, thou. I just started speaking to Him, and it’s gotten better. My spirit is constantly in congress with Father, and I’m always speaking to Him, and it is great! I also remembered a lesson I had learned a while back, that worship and prayer is more about my spiritual posture; i.e. am I submitted, than it is about my physical posture or the words that I say. Do I genuinely want to be in that place of constant communion with God, or am I just going through the motions?
Girl, I have learned true submission. It is very easy to submit to God when life is going according to ‘plan’, when the sky is blue, and the birds are chirping. Now when you are in the middle of the wilderness, you’ve run out of water, you’re exhausted, and there’s a sand storm, the temptation to take back the wheel and do the driving is very real. In the wilderness, I had an ‘I want to go back to Egypt’ episode, I was done, and I was going back to where I thought I needed to be. Thankfully Father saw it coming and He intervened right on time. Since then He is firmly in the driver’s seat, and I no longer co-drive, back seat drive, none of that, He leads, I follow and we’re good.
Obedience is a powerful weapon
As believers, the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal is obedience, and not obedience just for the sake of it, because we can do that, obey just to get God “off your back”, obedience that comes from a place of true submission. I mean think about it, it is because of Christ’s obedience that we have life, and have it in abundance. When I first received the instruction to pick up stakes and move back home, to the farm with my parents, everything in me rebelled. Let me explain, I was born and raised a city girl, visits to the farm were for the holidays only, and once I turned 18, even which became optional. My association with this home was pretty negative and so when my parents moved back home, I would only visit for the weekend, so now Father was telling me that I had to move here and be here for longer than a weekend, I was not having it. I threw a tantrum (even though at the time if you asked I was merely expressing my displeasure), boy did I throw a tantrum.
When I had calmed down somewhat, I went into ok fine I’ll do it, if only to get you off my back, and because I did promise to obey you hmpf. Even as I was telling my parents that I was moving back home and why, I was just going through the motions, I wasn’t convinced, I was waiting on God to change His mind, or to just say syke, you don’t really have to go. Even when I moved, I was not convinced, so I was listless and just upset generally. I can’t remember when the change happened, but I started thinking about all the instructions I had received from Father since I re-dedicated my life, and how I obeyed willingly and without question (ok sometimes the soul was a bit slow in aligning to the spirit’s obedience, but eventually it did), and I asked myself why it was so difficult for me to willingly obey this instruction? It all boiled down to a matter of trust, and submission, but eventually I figured, thus far my obedience has only brought me closer to God, why would this time be different, and as soon as that transformation happened, I was at peace. In short my obedience was only obedience when I fully submitted to God and what He was asking of me, trusting that He will NEVER leave me nor forsake me. Obedience opened the door for God’s protection, provision, strength and joy for this season of wilderness. Obedience allowed me to see what God wanted from me, and for me.
Isaiah 1:19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; ESV
I’m still learning, so I’m sure there’ll be a follow up to this post.