Don’t despise your wilderness! Consider how Almighty God brought the children of Israel out of the slavery and bondage of Egypt to journey towards the Promised Land. The wilderness was not their destination, it was a place to travel through. It was a place of testing where, sadly, the majority of them failed the test and thus were denied entry to the Promised Land.
We are privileged to see their mistakes and can learn from them. Deuteronomy 8: 1-2 records the warning to the people: “All the commandments which I command you this day shall you observe to do that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not”.
I may be in a wilderness of my own making, a consequence of earlier choices, or I may be in a wilderness that the Lord has permitted, corralled by circumstance. The fact remains that it is a testing place of few distractions where I find myself alone with God. Our desperate prayer may well be, “Lord, please get me out of here” in the beginning, but only as I humble myself before Him will I begin to hear what He is saying to me. The wilderness experience is for God to show me all that is in my heart that needs repenting of. So often we are not aware of the baggage we are carrying there that impairs our walk with the Lord. The children of Israel in the wilderness were always complaining, some even wanting to return to the bondage of Egypt, even after all the miracles they had been eye witness to. Is this a picture of me when things don’t go my way, or circumstances don’t please me?
The wilderness can cause an utter desperation in us. God taylors what we need, not want, because His heart cry is to be known for who He is. The wilderness is a place of fewer distractions, loneliness, solitude, even pain but can be the place of our greatest learning where we discard all that is not of Him. A heart cleansing takes place as we shed all that is not true, or pleasing, to Him. Those darkest times can become the hour of our greatest blessing as He anoints us with the sweetness of His presence, teaching us His ways. David declared in Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life. In your light, shall we see light”. God’s presence brings His light of revelation as He shows us things from His perspective.
David cried out to the Lord in Psalm 86: 11 “Teach me your way, O Lord, I will walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name”. God’s testing reveals all that is in our heart that displeases Him. We have a divided heart that God desires should be united with His. Our responsibility then is to humble before Him and choose to change. As we embrace the truth of what we are, under His searchlight, the divine exchange can take place…..His beauty for my ashes! The enabling power of the resurrected life of Jesus Christ is my birthright. Humility is always key. The new life discards the old ways of thinking and acting, Christ in me, the hope of glory!
The mountains, the valleys, the storms are all a part of our journey where we get to know the loving heart of our heavenly Father, Almighty God. Isaiah 40: 3 instructs us :”The voice of him that cries in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”. Selah….. In our wilderness we can make a highway, an inroad, for the Lord to meet with us there.
Verses 4-5 continue: “Every valley shall be exalted, every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed…..”. This shall be our inheritance from making a highway for our God in our wilderness. It is never God’s intention for us to die in our wilderness, but to bring us through to our Promised Land, to walk in our birthright in Christ.