True Wilderness

by Beckie Bagby (Ready For The Harvest Guest Blogger)

I have heard many Christians speak of having a ‘wilderness experience’ from God- how they were depressed or angry, God was far away, nothing was going their way and they thought it would never end. They usually close by saying with gratitude that something finally changed, everything got better and they finally entered ‘the promised land’, delivered from their wilderness experience. Life could be enjoyed again now.

I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that I don’t think that was actually a Heaven-assigned wilderness experience at all. Perhaps the enemy pulled the wool over their eyes; made them believe that his attacks were some kind of ‘growing experience’ fashioned by their Creator. But any experience that draws us away from God is not God- it is the enemy.

Please hear me out. I won’t go recap all of the book of Exodus for you, but everything I am about to say can be found in there (as well as Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy). Two events directly preceded the wilderness experience of the Jews: their deliverance from slavery, and their alignment with unbelief and fear. God showed them their Promised Land- even sent them in early to check it out- but they saw intimidating giants and were fearful. That fear gave way to unbelief. Then God basically said, ‘Ok then, I will wait for a generation that believes and is not afraid.’

Many say Israel wandered in the wilderness. Not so. They were led by a loving God who was with them always, in fire by night and a cloud by day. God never left them. He led them, kept them and provided for them: food each day (and even water from a rock), clothes and sandals that never wore out, healing and safety. He showed them how to govern themselves, and taught them about His nature, goodness, generosity, holiness and righteousness.

Remember, they had been slaves under Pharaoh in Egypt. They had no idea how to live as free people. God, who loved them and delivered them, had to show them that true freedom existed through Him and Him alone. If they would trust in Him, He would bless them beyond their wildest dreams.

It’s the same for us today. Before we are saved, we live as slaves… to both the world and ourselves. And after we’re saved, we might still feel afraid to fully leave the world behind to follow God. We could have times when we struggle to believe that He even IS who He says He is. But in a true, Kingdom-based wilderness experience we will not be far from God…. We’ll seek Him (keeping perspective) and see that He’s right there with us! He will lead us, grow us and teach us to depend on Him for everything. We’ll discover just how ever present He is, how He will provide for us, and that He really is who He says He is. And then we might just follow Him right into our destiny as a child of the Most High God.

A true, Godly wilderness experience will join us to God in a deep, trusting, loving and completely personal way; until we know- beyond a shadow of a doubt- that our destiny is to forever be in Him, following Him. Selah…

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