The wilderness is an in-between place – when you have left one stage of life and are on your way to another. Most, if not all of the patriarchs, had their own wilderness experience which we can read about in the Scriptures.
Abraham – Father of FaithIt was in the wilderness that he was challenged to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac. But it was also in the wilderness that his faith in the Lord was tested, and it grew.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” - Genesis 22:9-12
David – Man after God’s own heart
So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and there Saul lay sleeping within the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. And Abner and the people lay all around him. Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed, and be guiltless?” - 1 Samuel 26:7-9
Elijah – greatest prophet of the Old TestamentAfter a resounding victory on Mt. Carmel, Elijah fled to the wilderness to escape Jezebel. Although God had stopped the rain for three years, at Elijah’s word, the prophet still had to learn more about the Father. Therefore it was in the wilderness that he met God in a whole new way.
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. - 1 Kings 19:11-12
The IsraelitesWhen God freed them from Pharaoh’s oppressive grip they had to pass through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. They experienced many challenges, but each one was an opportunity for them to see God move on their behalf.
As believers, life in this world is a wilderness experience. You see, just like the Israelites, we were freed from satan’s grip when we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. However, before we enter into the “Promised Land” of heaven and eternity, we must still live in the wilderness of this world while not being of it. For us, the wilderness experience should be one of maturing in Christ. Therefore it should not be shunned, but rather embraced.
Your response to your wilderness experience will determine whether you go on to the next level in your relationship with God. This is where the Israelites fell short. They saw the wilderness as an inconvenience, a drudgery, something to complain about and be avoided….to the point that they desired to return to the bondage of Egypt.
Have you ever felt like that? Is life getting too hard for you to bear? Do you long for the old life the world has to offer? Before you continue to gaze back at your former life with longing eyes, please take the time to remember how it really was back then. Remember the sense of hopelessness, the emptiness inside that only God could fill. Remember how you longed for a change…..any change to come and get you out of the rut you were in. Remember, too, that the freedom the world offers is really bondage hidden behind a mask.
You may feel you are in a dry place. But the difference is that the God of miracles is right there with you. If you just keep moving, and keep trusting in Him, eventually the wilderness comes to an end. The question is……when you get to the end what will your state be? Will you have learned everything that God wanted you to learn, or will you have to turn back once again, like the Israelites, for one more round….in the wilderness?