Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Wilderness

The following is something a friend wrote that I wanted to share with you all and invite your thoughts!

The Wilderness
Many feel that a lack of trusted leadership to relate to, a lack of any community or movement to identify with, a lack of miracle in provision or healing would be evidence of their being in a wilderness.

The children of Israel had an anointed, powerful leader and they were still in the wilderness. They were part of a great movement and still in the wilderness. They lived by supernatural provision and miracle but were still in the wilderness.

Star leadership, miracles and multitudes are not proof that you are in the promised land.
They may be proof that you are still in the wilderness of immaturity and codependency.

Jesus went into the wilderness alone to fast and pray. Maybe the true purpose of the wilderness is to wean us from our addiction to the approval of others, our addiction to the sensational, our addiction to equating numbers with success? Maybe the true purpose is for us to connect with Jesus alone? To settle our needs in God so that we can freely give to others?

When the children of Israel reached the promised land they dispersed to their own portion and each had to begin to take responsibility for their own lives, to manage their own affairs and to provide for themselves. They could no longer live by Moses and miracle.

You may feel alone and isolated...
That may be your promised land...
That may be the place you fully engage with Jesus.
Although it may feel like a wilderness, it is not only a good place.
It is the best of places!
Steve Hill


  1. There are a couple of differences between the circumstances of the Children of Israel and the present day church, whether institutional or otherwise. Their wilderness was a literal wilderness. Apart from the provision of God, there was nothing. No markets, no water but that which came forth from stones, or the odd stream encountered in their wanderings.

    Few people, especially in the North American/Industrialized nations of the world have experienced that level of wilderness, that level of total reliance on God. Even the poor in our countries have limited social programs available to sustain them. I've encountered a few, and their faith is unwavering, but they had to seek out the wilderness, either in naivety, or obedience, to encounter the unmistakable provision of God.

    That is not to discount the very real and equally debilitating spiritual wilderness that so many believers, in or out of the institutionalized church, suffer from on a regular basis. I think the key is reaching that level of desperation in your faith, that limit of passion, where Jesus becomes the bread of life and the living water that sustains us...

    I'm not there... and perhaps my search for that place is too trepidatious. But I'm nearing closer to an absolute desperation for my savior every day. I pray to find it soon, but I'm still too wary of what that really costs.

  2. The only thing more real to me than the cost of surrender is the fierceness of His love.

  3. I don't think we necessarily have to have this 'wilderness' experience to be reliant on God...perhaps it is more that we feel we have been isolated because there is a change in our journey, and we want to make a comparison from how things used to be with where we are right now. Which is hard to do if your journey is changing, or if He is simply re-directing your steps.

    And I am eating my words here but we really cannot make any comparison about where we are, or where we were.

    'We cannot carry yesterdays victory, onto tomorrow's battlefield.'

    Our walk with Papa is ever changing, and sometimes we spend so much energy worrying about whether we are walking in the right way. And it is ironic in some way that it reminds me of the whole thing of being a cave dweller, and sometimes in the wilderness that is kind of who we are. For me, I have to ask this.

    I am desperate for Papa, but am I desperate enough?

  4. I definitely feel that it is much, much more poignant when Jesus reveals the correlation between my particular circumstance and that of a Bible character(s). Searching around for it can lead to many rabbit trails which rarely lead into His heart.

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  6. I thought this was an interesting illustration from Michael Yaconelli in Dangerous Wonder:

    "Now I believe roller coasters are a more accurate model of the Christian life. You say yes to Jesus and suddenly you think, I'm going to die!!! Then you begin to the long climb of growth - Sunday school, baptism, church membership - and you think, Hey no problem, I can follow Jesus anywhere, and then - ZOOOOOOOOOM - you crash into the twists and turn of life, jerking left then right, up then down, and fifty, sixty years go by and - WHAM! - you're dead. I have used the roller coaster as my model for many years now, and I often say to people, "If I were to have a heart attack right at this moment, I hope I would have just enough air in my lungs and just enough strength in me to utter one last sentence as I fell to the floor: "What a ride!" My life has been up and down, careening left then right, full of mistakes and bad decisions, and if I died right now, even though I would love to live longer, I could say from the depths of my soul, "What a ride!"

    Lately I've been finding my heart doing a shift and my brain's trying to keep up with it. That in all of the twists and turns of life.. the thrills.. the disappointments... the joy... the pain; I'm asking God to be in that moment with me. I'm shifting from asking God to change my circumstances to, Papa be real to me in this moment... find me here. Not my trying to find him. This is a massive shift for me. It's like I can see Him as a cup being poured out onto me in the now. That He is always there - waiting to pour out on me. Be what I need in the moment. My roller coaster always has a new turn - a new adventure. I can hear Jesus give out a big hearty playful laugh, sit down beside me in the front cart and glance lovingly at me as he chuckles, "fasten your seat belt we've got quite the ride ahead of us!!".

    All I know is that He's desperate for me. He understands all the tangles of my heart. He straps in right beside me, holding my hand and rides right along with me. Knowing that I'm going to learn to trust his presence, his voice, his love. That he constantly proves his loyalty to my heart so that I can move away from fear and into trust. So then maybe next time I find myself on the edge of the 'big drop' I think, I'm going to die and he says, Don't worry you're safe, put your hands up!!! And Zoooooooooom.

    What a ride.

  7. Great quote Jenn, and I loved your comments too! Thanks!