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Have you ever been through a spiritual wilderness?

Our first inclination when we are put in the wilderness is to say, "When are You going to get me out of here, God?"

But what we need to come to ask instead is, "What are you trying to teach me through this?"

A "wilderness experience" is often where we meet God in a new way.

It is a place where we see evidence of God's provision and a place where our faith burrows another layer deeper.

The wilderness is a place where we can feel as though we've reached the end of our rope only to discover that, all along, God was holding a net beneath us, saying, "It's okay. I'm here."

The activation of a "wilderness" is not limited to class or status, age or any other defining factor the standard of this world holds. The activation of a "wilderness experience" is the determination by God that we are not only ready but that we need to fine tune and develop our Christian walk to the next level. It is God's provision being supplied when we aren't even aware that we're going to need it.

Provision is not a word with boundaries.

We have a God Who can provide for all of our needs.

We often limit Him.

Provision is not limited to food, water or a home. Provision is applicable to the spiritual in the same way that it is applicable to the physical and, when we stop limiting His potential in our lives, we see Him move in ways that we never thought to imagine. Healing what was broken and crushing what was hindering us; bringing life to what was dead and clarity to what was shrouded in darkness.

As you live for Christ and chose to walk with Him each day, He will eventually take you to a "wilderness". When that happens, remember this:

It's not "what does the wilderness take out of us?"

It's "what do we take out of the wilderness?"

God knows when we are ready for a "wilderness" and God knows when we need a "wilderness". God knows before the world is going to cast us into the desert and God knows the best path out of it.

God knew that the Israelites would get distracted from Him.

He knew. He planned a long road for them before they set foot in the desert because He knew that their faith and their determination and their comprehension of His ability was still not where it needed to be. He knew. The desert was planned.

"When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, 'If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.' So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea."

So, what can we recognize about wilderness?

  • Wilderness can come during both seasons of abundance and seasons of lack. Because the lessons that God has for us to learn are so unique to us individually, we can't always see when someone else is going through the wilderness. It might not be apparent to us, and they might not be crying out as loudly as others would be. Be sensitive to your brothers and sisters in Christ. You aren't in their shoes and their areas of need for reliance and dependance on God could very likely look nothing like yours.

To support someone's journey is to not always to take their load from them but to make their burden easier to carry, to offer light in darkness and to remind them that they are not alone. Love sincerely. Be devoted. Honor one another. Share with others.

  • Your wilderness can come in a form of rejection. Look at Hagar. She was cast out, abandoned and left for dead with her child. Rejected. Yet, at her time of desperation, God directed her, provided for her, gave her a promise and then fulfilled it.

Where a Godly man failed her - God Himself provided.

  • The wilderness is not a punishment. The wilderness is a privilege because God believes that you are capable of growing and, despite how hard it might be, God is there in the wilderness with you and He Himself is leading you.

Where we see a mountain, God sees the opportunity for strengthening.

"Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people."

  • The wilderness is where you will be tested and tempted but you already have the answers to the testing and you already have the promise of God - which is greater than the temptations that will come before you.

The wilderness is not a cakewalk. You will have to make decisions. But you serve a God of all wisdom. James 1:5

  • Your wilderness is not the same as anyone else's wilderness. The terrain may be similar, but your feet will land in places unique and never tread on before. Stop attempting to compare your journey to your neighbor's.

You were created for your own journey.

  • You will get weary. There is nothing wrong with you because you get weary. You might fall down and have to get up, not just once but repeatedly. The point is that you get up more times than you get knocked down. A journey requires exertion, and strengthening requires stretching, resistance, and pushing against an opposing force.

Proverbs 24:16, "For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes."

  • It may take time to get through. And it is honestly hard not to get discouraged in a prolonged wilderness. Purpose, destination, rate of growth, distraction verses attentiveness... all these things are factors in determining the duration of your wilderness. God prepares things in His time, not ours, but we can be the ones to slow down our own journey (and we often are).

Perseverance is continuing to go on even when you are tired. Determination is making a decision to not give up. Faith is trusting in what you can't yet see because you know the Creator of it all.

Are you going to die in the wilderness?

Or are you going to come out stronger?

I am going through a wilderness. I keep wanting things to be the same as they were. But that would mean that I'm not actually going through anything - it would mean that I'm sitting on the ground, refusing to move, with the hopes that what I am missing will be given back to me exactly the way that it was.

The truth - the hard truth - is that I hope to take what I am writing here and apply it to my life just as I hope you can apply it to yours.

God can restore but when we trust Him and go through the "wilderness" that He is asking us to, He often brings about more than a restoration. He brings something completely new, more beautiful and purer than what we left when we entered the wilderness.

Sending love and prayers,

Sarah Jane

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