Summary: No one wants to be in the wilderness. Where no one sees you, your weaknesses are exposed, and the motivations of your heart are brought to light. But without this season you'll never walk out your calling
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No one wants to be in the wilderness season of their life or calling in ministry. It’s a place where the crowds don’t see you, it’s a place where your weaknesses are exposed, and it’s in the wilderness that the motivations of your heart are tested and brought to light. The wilderness is the time in your life when your roots are tested to see if God can build upon your life in the way He wants without destroying you or those around you. God didn’t lead you into this place just so you could barley make it out alive, no He brought you there to thrive. Because if your life and relationship with God can thrive in the wilderness then it will be able to survive the chaos and demands of your everyday life and ministry.
Many people don’t make it out of the wilderness. This is a truth we must come to grips with, as it is easy to assume that your life is just on autopilot and you will end up where God wants you to be no matter how you live or react to your situations. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, the wilderness is the place of refinement and while some make it out to the other side there are many who simply die spiritually (or morally) in that place.
Or there are others who become overly comfortable in the wilderness, where no one can see them, and they can do as they please. Some misinterpret the wilderness as the fulfilment of their callings where they go and “suffer for Jesus” for the betterment of unnamed “others.” Then there are the few who perceive the wilderness as being a deserved judgment on their life that they must embrace indefinitely.
We can look to stories about the wilderness such as Jesus’s temptations, Elijah’s refuge, Moses’s escape or the migration of the children of Israel from Egypt. In all of these examples we see a pattern emerge: God calls a person or group and manifests in their life, then they end up outside of the comforts of home and into a place where they have to either prove their dependence upon God or prove that their hearts are in line with God’s.
Jesus resisted the temptation of Satan, Elijah learned the secret of hearing God’s voice, Moses became humble and encountered God in the burning bush while tending Jethro’s sheep and the people of Israel were refined into a nation which could enter the Promised Land. Jesus left the wilderness in power and authority, Elijah had his strength and faith restored, and Moses understood his role in God’s plan. These three men left the wilderness forever changed, they were changed in a deep and profound way and it is because of that change that they were able to leave the wilderness intact.
These three examples not only survived but thrived, unlike many nameless faces who have gone into the wilderness and never returned. We see this with the children of Israel as the majority of them died in their season of wilderness, as only those under the age of twenty along with Joshua and Caleb survived. They rejected their wilderness journey, they rejected God’s goodness, they refused to trust God and they resisted God’s attempts to take Egypt out of their hearts. Who knows how many others have fallen victim to these same failings when they went into their own wilderness experiences? This is what I mean by saying that entering the wilderness is a guarantee, but leaving it is not.
But we have another example of someone with a calling from God on their life who had to enter the wilderness, David.
The Wilderness Is Not To Be Feared
As we’ve seen over the past few months the story of David is one which is rich examples of how someone who is called by God is to live and fulfill that calling. We’ve seen so far the path of David’s life which followed the 4 A’s of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. Normally we want God to take us straight from the place of Anointing and initial calling and carry us directly into the place of Announcement where we are recognized as being in the fullness of our calling, just as when David was formally made king of Judah and later Israel.
However, in reality to get to the places of activation and announcement we (and David) must go through the wilderness. In the previous article I spoke of how David entered the wilderness because of Saul’s obsession with killing him. I spoke of the need for the wilderness in our lives but now I want to take you to the next level where we actually thrive and see the true purpose that we were brought into this place.