I don’t usually seek going into the wilderness. I’m not a “Woman vs. Wild” type and camping in the great unknown outdoors isn’t my thing. I didn’t even survive 6th grade camp. My dad has to rescue me three days in because I got horribly sick (thank God for dads, right?).
As I journey in my faith walk with Christ, I realize that there are some places that not even my earthly dad can rescue me from no matter how fast or far my dad drives in his white Ford F-150. It’s a place where I’m often called, led, or taken to and usually against my desire.
This kind of wilderness is not so much of a physical place but more of a spiritual one. It’s a place where the voice of God at times feels radio silent no matter how many times you pray. Even with spiritual “GPS” or “compass” of God’s word known as the Bible, you still feel lost, and it feels like complete isolation. It is often dark, scary, lonely, depressing, and difficult.
This place is called the spiritual wilderness and is often a place of hardship, testing, and trials.
It’s a place where almost every Christian will find themselves in their Christian walk whether they’re new or seasoned.
My Response To The Wilderness Calls
If I could be completely honest, my response or view of the wilderness season feels like a twisted joke or punishment from God. I’m currently in the wilderness season now and it seems like it’s been way longer than I thought.
When I think of the spiritual wilderness, I don’t think of forests and trees. I think about dry, barren, places where there’s no life around. Almost like a giant desert. Ultimately, I think about when Jesus was led into the wilderness in Matthew 4.
“And Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.“
(Matthew 4:1 NKJV)
Jesus was willing and obedient to that call of being led into the wilderness. Me? When that consecration call comes ringing, I either try to ignore it or I just hang up. I know…that’s horrible. But I’m usually afraid of what’s there.
Because I don’t like feeling lost nor do I enjoy experiencing loss. Yet, I’m led to go kicking and screaming all the way there.
Another thing that I don’t like about the wilderness is that I don’t know how long I’m going to be there. Sometimes the length of my stay depends on me (trust, obedience, attitude, etc.) but sometimes I’m at the will of God who ultimately decides the length of my stay no matter how “ready” I feel to leave. The trials and testing in the wilderness is a painful process stripping down everything I thought I loved dearly while gaining what I thought I never wanted or what seems unfamiliar. But I’m learning that it’s what develops in the process of these seasons that makes a world of difference.
What the Wilderness Call Actually Is
Spiritual wilderness is a time of wild growth, change, and testing of your heart, faith, trust, and obedience to God.
In some cases, growth and change may or may not take place around you but it will certainly take place within you.
Even in the “dead” or “dry” places where life isn’t expected to survive, God’s very own life is infused with yours too so that you can thrive.
It’s not comfortable, neat, or pretty, but it’s wonderful and powerful.
Sometimes it feels like you won’t survive the spiritual wilderness. The “elements” that God chooses to use in the wilderness feels crushing or like you’re going to be knocked down to your knees. But God somehow sustains us especially in the moments where we can’t.
Face value, the wilderness can seem cruel and unusual. And I’ll admit that I sometimes buy into Satan’s lie that God having me here in this wilderness is for punishment and not for pruning or purification to be more fruitful. But I realize that God has me in the wilderness to test and see what I’m truly made of and to be made more like Him.
Sometimes the methods God uses to train, strengthen, purify, and prepare me for something new or greater doesn’t seem right or fair. But God will use whatever He deems necessary to get what He needs out of me and only HIS best will do.
I’ll admit that it’s much easier for me to ignore or at times escape the wilderness that I’m being led or brought to. Especially, when I’ve had to endure it for a long time. In those moments I think to myself, “God, haven’t I suffered enough?”.
But when I do escape or leave prematurely, I eventually find myself back to the same place I left now prolonging what God was trying to do in me when I should’ve just been still, trusted, and waited to begin with.
A Transformed Response To The Call
It’s a very difficult lesson but I’m learning to do a better job at looking at my spiritual wilderness seasons in my life as an opportunity than a colossal obstacle or mistake. Additionally, I’m learning to lean on God more than ever before, pray and ask God for grace, wisdom, and strength realizing that the pain and the process is for a greater purpose that’s not only for me but for others and the glory of God.
Yes, God’s silence in the tearful prayers given does hurt and cut deep. But God promises that if He was the one to bring me to the wilderness, He has to bring me through it somehow, someway.
There’s a “Promised Land” I need to reach as I journey through my wilderness season and it’s filled with eternal treasures that I lacked or didn’t have before: deeper spiritual maturity, power, and blessing.
I know that God’s plans for my life call for greater things. He’s even been gracious enough to give me a sneak peek of it. However, since He’s God, He’s not obligated to tell me exactly how to get there or what the process involves. This is where my faith, trust, and obedience is tested and tried. It may involve deep pain and even loss but…
Finding a temporary fix to my pain in the wilderness season only delays my progress and growth, impede God’s Hand and miracles that could potential forfeit my destiny.
No, I don’t like the wilderness at all. Maybe one day I’ll learn to embrace it more or wholeheartedly. Of course, if I had it my way, I’d still avoid it all together. But why would I? How could I if I was assured that the greatest growth, life, and blessings is guaranteed to come out of the other side when I go through the wilderness?
Have you ever been called into the wilderness by God? How do you usually respond to wilderness and what do you learn?
Let me know.
With God’s love, grace, and Light,