Take heart, my friend, for it's during your wilderness journey when the Lord will use losses for your gain, confusion for wisdom, and temptations to teachable lessons that can set you onto the right path to ultimately reach your fullest potential. While the actual process of the wilderness can be quite uncomfortable, God will use it for your good. Here is a list of possible scenarios of those encountering a dry spell filled with turmoil in a spiritual wilderness:
- Spiritual/Financial/Emotional Drought
The most crazy fact is that I've been in a spiritual wilderness for the past year, but did not know it. For those who are new to my website, perhaps you will relate to my own journey into a parched desert where I've been hit on every side by uncontrollable, stressful events? In 2015, I faced one hardship after another. It caught me off guard because in 2014 I felt the favor of God upon me. Suddenly, I felt as if the Lord left my side. Depression and darkness haunted me day and night.
Mystified, I had no idea what was happening. Once the heat of affliction was turned up by the end of 2015, I knew I was in the midst of spiritual warfare. There was no doubt in my mind that the enemy was out to kill, steal, and destroy my joy, my passionate purpose, and everything near and dear to me.
On November 5, 2015, which was my husband and my 27 year wedding anniversary and an occasion that should have been for a happy celebration, my husband Tony and I said our last goodbyes to our 12 year old lab, Samson, as he took his last breath. With tears dripping down our cheeks, we were both filled with such an intense heartbreak. Our furry friend was such a big part of our family and if you are a pet lover, I have a hunch you know exactly what I mean.
Wandering in a spiritual wilderness is a time of painful losses, grief, and when you feel as if your heart has been shattered into a million pieces. As you trudge up the mountain with darkness looming overhead you can't logically make sense of your unpleasant circumstances. Nothing makes sense. Paralyzed in fear, you question if it's easier to stay at the bottom of the hill. Overcome by confusion and despair, you don't know if you have the courage, energy, or motivation to reach the mountaintop.
Loneliness is a wilderness theme. Friends and family may drift away. There's a disconnection that occurs without a full understanding. The hardest part is watching the people, places, and things you love being stripped away from you one by one. Isolation becomes your friend as you dive deeper into searching for Jesus to know Him more. You hunger and thirst for Him. Pressing in, you crave to curl up on His lap and embrace His unconditional love. In desperation, you cry out, "Lord, I need you now!"
As I rung in 2016, I sensed for unknown reasons God did not want me to start any new projects. It wasn't until March when my mom, Dolly, was diagnosed with stage 3 malignant brain cancer, did I understand why I needed to step away from new ventures. In the greater scheme of things, the wilderness brings us to the end of ourselves. We cannot control unfathomable circumstances that knock us off of our feet. We lose ourselves and die to our flesh. We seek our Abba Father and come to the realization that without Him, we are nothing.
On April 25, 2016, I made up my mind to seek God with all of my heart and soul. To die to myself. To surrender my way for the Lord's way. To go on a spiritual fast for the very first time in effort to show God that I was serious about following His will. Desperate times call for desperate measures. By all means, I needed a breakthrough and I absolutely was ready to release my cares to Jesus.
So on that Monday, I began my fast in prayer and worship. Singing my heart out, I pleaded with God to do a mighty work for my dad who was in the hospital, my mom battling cancer, my husband who was laid off and unemployed as well as myself who sincerely struggled in this one year wilderness journey. This is when I reached a turning point. Also, this is when God radically showed up in amazing ways to remind me that He's been here all along, He hears my prayers, He knows my heart, and He's revealing Himself to me in such miraculous ways.
During my worship and prayer, the phone rang and it was a business contacting my husband about a potential job. On this day of spiritual fasting, I stepped out and God moved. Not just once or twice, but three times! I kid you not, by the end of that week, my husband not only had a job interview, but his original boss called him back to work! Now that is serious provision by God. When He works behind the scenes to unfold beautiful blessings.
I can't say what a spiritual fast will do for you. All I can say is that it was the key to unlock the road blocks that I faced. When I reached the end of myself, God audaciously moved in and through my life. When I sacrificed my wants and needs for His will, He poured out His sweet mercy. When I boldly released my father, mother, husband, and myself to my Heavenly Maker, He graciously opened new doors.
Within one month following my spiritual fast, Jesus provided me revelations that have left me awestruck. It started with the still soft voice speaking to me words and phrases. The main highlight was waiting, wandering, and wilderness. So I started pondering what the Lord was trying to teach me. This led to searching the Bible and discovering for myself that God has chosen people for a spiritual wilderness. After Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit, He was led immediately into the wilderness for a spiritual fast. This wilderness journey was for forty days and forty nights in which the devil tried to lure Jesus into temptation.
The great news is that Jesus resisted the devil's temptations and the devil fled. This is when Jesus had a breakthrough. He gained power in His wilderness experience. After casting out the demon, Jesus began His ministry, healing people, and ultimately providing eternal salvation to our lost world. (Matthew 4:1-25)
In the meanwhile, I discerned last week during prayer and journaling that God was asking me to step away from social media and distractions temporarily. To find a quiet place to seek His wisdom and hear Him clearly. Of course, I didn't know what the Lord was up to, but I most definitely knew that I needed to simply obey. Therefore, I announced on Facebook that I was taking time off. In all honesty, there was a part of me that actually considered deactivating my Facebook account if it became necessary to be in the will of God.
When we bravely step into the will of Christ to follow His commands, He honors us. Perhaps, there is something in your life that you may need to let go of that is stealing your time, your purpose, or your divine calling from God? Could it be that our Heavenly Father deeply yearns to have your full attention? That He is a jealous God and wants you to stop fretting your life away on meaningless entertainment or frivolous activities? "You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you." Exodus 34:14 (NLT)
Please don't get me wrong; I am not suggesting that you deactivate your Facebook account or permanently unplug from the Internet. What I'm saying is that if we maintain such a fast-paced life filled with chaos, noise, and earthly pleasures, we may miss the opportunity to hear God speak. If we miss hearing that still soft voice, what are the odds that we are not completely walking in authentic faith? That we have one foot on the fence with our earthly flesh (our will, our desires, our selfish gratifications) and the other foot heaven bound in our eternal home (God's will, God's desires, and allowing God to ultimately change our heart, mind, and soul).
As for myself, I am blown away at how the Lord has revealed Himself to me during my three day Facebook vacation! On Saturday, I enjoyed quality time with my daughter's. It was a gorgeous afternoon and perfect for a picnic in the park. Later that evening, I spent time reading the Bible, learning more about the wilderness, and praying for clarity. Soaking into His Word, I loved how God connected me to the right scriptures at the right time to fulfill how great He is.
As I read about Caleb and Joshua in the Bible who were Israelite men whose stories offer faithful commitment to the Lord, I discovered that there's hope in the wilderness. Despite the opposition Caleb and Joshua experienced through the Red Sea and into the wilderness, they trusted that God would bring them victory. When all the other men mumbled and grumbled during the hot wilderness journey, Caleb and Joshua stood by God. The valuable lesson learned is that when we are led into the wilderness for a season (days, months, or years), if we are faithful and walk in obedience, the Lord may choose to bless us with a powerful breakthrough.
Before I went to bed that night, I asked God if He wanted me to write a book about my own wilderness journey. Silently, I prayed, "Is this my idea or a God-idea?" Although I wasn't sure of the direction Jesus was leading me, I most certainly was positive about a few things, including:
- God did lead me into a spiritual wilderness.
- The Lord would strengthen me in the wilderness.
- He would sustain my faith in the wilderness.
- I was not alone in the wilderness because He was with me.
- There were powerful revelations by God during my desert journey.
- His love for me is far deeper, wider, longer, and higher than I ever imagined.
- By disconnecting with others, I am able to connect to Jesus one on one.
- My grief, suffering, and losses are not in vain. He will use my grief, suffering, and loss for His glorious gain!
- God is doing something new in me. He is making a way in the desert and through the wilderness to make my paths straight.
The next morning, my husband and I went to church. The associate Pastor, Jason, started the message and it happened to be on the exact scriptures and Bible story that I had read the previous evening. Awestruck, I was stunned beyond belief that Jason told the story of Caleb and Joshua. It was like God turned on the green light for me and said, "This is confirmation to write your book. Now go and follow My will for you."
Astonished, I am filled with gratitude and thankfulness for how my Heavenly Father is so very faithful. What stands out the most is that even though many of the uncontrollable situations have not changed, such as my mom battling brain cancer, God has changed me. Even though my heart still breaks for my mother and so many other painful circumstances, Christ has replaced my panic and anger for the peace that surpasses all understanding. Now that, my friend, is a miracle in itself!
As I experience this wilderness season and I'm currently smack dab in the middle of it, God is calling me to write my fourth book to give others hope, courage, and deeper faith in their own wilderness journey. I may not know the exact end result, but I do know and trust that the Lord is doing something new through you and I. He will make a way in the dry desert to quench our thirst. He will lead us to die to our comfortable ordinary lives to wander the hot wilderness in order to mold us into the faithful followers He designed us to be. Lastly, He will go ahead of us to bring us out of the wilderness to have victory in Christ.
Today, my prayer is that you are willing to lay down your life to take up the cross. That you will seek His still soft voice to lead you wherever He desires, including the wilderness. And while you are stumbling and wandering aimlessly in the dry desert, may Jesus reveal that He's not done with you yet because He's doing a new thing in you that will turn your life around for good.
"Watch! I'm about to carry out something new! And now it's springing up— don't you recognize it? I'm making a way in the wilderness and paths in the desert." Isaiah 43:19 (ISV)