“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Deuteronomy 8:2 (King James Version)
Everything in our lives happens for a reason. Sometimes, without warning, we find ourselves in a dry place best described as a spiritual wilderness. It is not a physical location, but a spiritual space that at various times and seasons in our lives plagues us with feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, abandonment, restlessness, fear, and many times, the temptation to give up. That is where I was when I discovered that these times are invitations to be alone with God and to see another side of Him. They are times to experience new strength, new peace, and spiritual growth.
For months, I found myself wandering and wondering in this barren place, hungering and thirsting for the presence of God. I was in search of what Alice Walker calls a “Healthy Soul.” I was seeking a place to rest in God and to allow Him to do through me what only God can do. I desperately needed this place of solitude and meditation where I could humbly say, “Father, I need you!”
Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves — Henry David Thoreau
Sometimes, God beckons us to this “no frills” environment for what Bishop Walter Scott Thomas calls,“contextual remembering.” That is, to remember the context of our past deliverance – remembering how bad things were before, yet we were delivered. Wildernesses teach us the faithfulness of our God and while situations and circumstances may change, the presence, promises and power of God are changeless.
Where I’ve been has prepared me for my purpose and here’s what I know: Life’s journey is all about faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must trust God with all of our heart. We must trust God’s ways and God’s timing. And if we are obedient to His Will, we can rest assured that God will take care of us. No matter how things seem; all things will work together for the “good for the called according to His purpose.”
The wilderness is not a burden, but a Blessing that “allows us to end all activity that wears us out and empowers us to be our best selves” before an audience of “One.” It is an humbling experience that reminds us without God, we have and are nothing, but with God, we have and are more than enough!
These months of spiritual retreat have taught me to trust God’s love even when I don’t understand His purpose. There will always be crooked and rough places in this life. Struggles and challenges will come, but in the wilderness or in places of plenty — God is always in control and is everything we need.
Take courage. We walk in the wilderness today and in the Promised Land tomorrow. — D.L. Moody
Prayer: Father, “for every mountain you have brought me over and for every trial you have seen me through — for this I give you praise.” In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.