Have you ever been in a situation completely beyond your control where everything seemed like it was coming to an end? You may have lost a job or relationship or an opportunity you were really putting your hopes in. Everything in your life totally shuts down and you are not the happiest person on the planet. Here’s some good news: I know very well what this is like.
In fact, this type of thing has repeated itself three times in my life and finally after a couple decades, I’ve finally discovered what this is all about. What I learned completely changed my understanding of what these situations are all about and why we end up in them. If you are in this situation now, there are some key points you need to understand and actions to take in order to come out with a total life turnaround and not repeat the experience.
(UPDATE: December, 2018…looking back on this blog, I was a little optimistic that my wilderness was about to end but it lasted another 2 years after I posted this; in reading this again, some of what I wrote here sounded a bit presumptuous. Well, that just goes to show God has a character development process for each of us. If the wording here sounds a little “overboard”, you’ll know why I felt the need to make this insert comment here.)
If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed many articles ago that I already gave a big clue that this topic was on the draft list. The hint was in my interpretation of a piece of artwork that I bought from a local artist. It’s the one with the cowboy going through a desert by himself. Yep, there was actually a reason I bought that painting and wrote that article. The scene had so much metaphoric meaning to me personally that I knew I had to have it as a permanent visual reminder of the experience I’m writing about today.
What is a Wilderness?
Before we go further, let me clarify the term I’m using today. A wilderness is sort of like a personal desert where many things cannot survive. It’s a rather harsh environment devoid of most of the things that make us humans happy. It could be when your career ends, a marriage ends or becomes very rocky, friends and social contacts disappear, you are forced to move to a location that you’d never have chosen and you can’t get out of it.
Generally speaking, your entire life seems to grind to a halt and you will most likely experience a barrage of negative thoughts and emotions including fear, hopelessness, failure, confusion about what to do next and the feeling you are in a tiny room with the air running out quickly (just to name a few). This is actually a common situation for some and it tends to last a rather uncomfortably long time. I think by now you know whether you’ve been in one of these before, or if this describes you right now.
I myself have been through that scenario about three times in the last twenty years or so. The reason I felt the need to write this article is because the first two times I had no idea what was going on and it wasn’t until more than half-way through the third time that I finally heard what this was all about. Had I known what I’m going to discuss here years ago, I would have had a much more productive response and probably could have cut off at least one of the three wilderness trips.
Why the Wilderness?
I’ve heard many good teachers try to explain the reason for a personal wilderness and for some, I’ll say right up front that I do not agree with some of them. I’ve heard several teachers say that we go into a wilderness “because of the devil”. Well, from my experience, that is both an unbiblical and very naive perspective. I’ve found two primary reasons we can end up in one of these:
- Immaturity, character issues and foolish decisions and choices will absolutely lead us into many very negative situations from which we can become ensnared for a very long time.
- God’s favor may be on us and we are led into a wilderness by God for the purpose of shutting down distractions so we can be fully prepared for the next stage of our life or a high calling that will require a total life transformation and rigorous training.
My most recent experience had nothing to do with the devil or any poor choice on my part. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I went into the wilderness knowing practically nothing about all the supernatural realm and gifts of the Spirit but by the time I came out, I had a very solid understanding and even began seeing these things operate through me. The reason King David, John the Baptist and Jesus entered the wilderness had nothing to do with the leading of the devil (although they certainly did encounter him there). They went in because that was God’s determined plan to prepare them for their assignment.
This is exactly why I ended up in the wilderness. I discovered a few years ago that I was lied to my entire life by dead academic religious churches that completely rejected the supernatural. When I found out the truth, I went all out to get what I never knew existed in my life. That was primarily the reason for my most recent time in the wilderness – it was a time of preparation for a big assignment. In fact to confirm that, God kept sending me the number 37 repeatedly which calls attention back to the story of Joseph (coincidentally, that begins in Genesis 37).
Truth and Warning: The wilderness is God’s determined ancient pathway to preparation in advance of a high calling. He sends His chosen people there to ensure they are trained and matured to be capable of handling what He wants to give them. Many are called but few chosen (Matt 22:14) and relatively few people are willing to go through this process and therefore fail to achieve God’s highest calling.
The Ancient Pathway
Here’s one of the truths I had never known before. The wilderness is known as the “ancient pathway” which is one of God’s top training grounds for greatness in His kingdom. Every major Biblical character had to go through this. Moses, Joseph, David, John the Baptist and Jesus, just to mention a few. This is also known as God’s “process”. I discovered that God actually has a way of putting us through a program unique and tailored for us personally.
Moses lived the first 40 years of his life in Pharaoh’s palace where he had everything he wanted without any effort. But, he was driven by circumstances into the wilderness where he spent another 40 years. All that happened before we get to the Exodus story where he spent another 40 years with the Israelites there after leaving Egypt. Moses was not capable of leading the Israelites in the wilderness when he first came out of Pharaoh’s palace. He did not fully possess the character traits necessary but after his desert experience, he was then ready.
A wilderness will separate you from worldly things and prepare you to think according to God’s kingdom ways. Some of the things it will separate you from may include material possessions, reliance on yourself, your money and friends and associations that are of no value to you in your future. That may sound harsh but it’s true. There are simply some people you are connected to who will only hold you back from God’s calling for you. If you don’t believe me, you need to go back and read this verse in Matt 10:37. God will absolutely require you to separate yourself from certain people at times.
Losing everything you have previously put your confidence in will require you to learn how to hear from God for yourself, not through other people. God wants an increased relationship with you and this is one way He accomplishes that. I guess this would be a great time to insert here that the job of a New Testament prophet is to teach you how to hear God for yourself. It is not their job to be your source of hearing God. Do you own job and get your own word from God; that’s what we call a personal relationship with God.
Number 40 is significant of a wilderness and preparation phase; if you are seeing this number repeatedly, it is most likely a sign of a wilderness for you.
So, here’s a good question: can you get stuck in a wilderness too long or go back through it again? Yes, absolutely. That’s why I’m saying in this article that you need to know the reasons you are there and what you need to do while in that phase. Again, had I known all this years ago, I would be farther along in life by now.
It’s possible to fail a faith test. Seriously, this is poorly taught. If I had known we could fail God’s test, that would have upped my motivation level a long time ago. Most of my life, I was taught such watered down half-truths in church, I did not even know that God tests us. Fortunately this is one thing I became very aware of on my third visit to the desert. Everything in God’s kingdom operates on faith in Him. Failure to have faith has many very negative consequences because it is an insult to God.
Lack of faith is also rooted in pride, which we know comes directly from the devil. I know, you say, “how is that?!” Because if you don’t believe God, it means that you believe you know better than Him. Of course, we don’t get it perfectly right on the first try but we are required to progress. If you do not cooperate with God in this, you will not progress. I discovered that myself. This is about a process as I have explained in a previous post about God’s calling for you. We cannot obtain God’s highest calling if we have a pride problem.
My last trip through the wilderness, I literally felt that it was a sink or swim, now or never situation and my sense of urgency was very high.
Dreams and Guidance
If you are familiar with this blog site, you’re probably wondering if any of my dreams came in during this time. The answer is, yes! During this third visit to the wilderness, God spoke to me frequently in many dreams about my present and future. I knew when I had totally failed a test and I could fill many blog posts with all the correction and rebuke dreams He gave me.
But God also spoke to me in many prophetic dreams concerning what He was going to give me in due time. Most of these were very highly symbolic and did not give specific details. As time went on, I began to discern increasingly what He was telling me through these dreams according to what He had planned for me. This entire blog site is actually a product of my recent wilderness experience.
Positive Results and Progress
Let me tell the most important part of this. Many very positive things have come out of my recent wilderness. I learned a ton of things that I never knew in my previous decades of life and I became a very different person with greatly improved faith and character. I went into this desert because I knew there was more of God than I had ever understood. I was determined to get everything I could and I was not willing to go back to “normal life” without the things I asked for. This is pretty much what it means to seek first God’s kingdom.
Here are a few things I learned on the third wilderness experience that completely changed my life:
- I found out how to hear God for myself through dreams, impressions, clear words in my thoughts direct from the Holy Spirit that did not come from rational, analytical, intellectualized thinking.
- I broke past a demonic barrier to praise and worship and the stronghold of negativity and religious lies that God was fighting against me began to lose its influence over me.
- I began to actually believe what the Bible says and I began to stand on God’s words rather than just “hope” they worked.
- My strength level of faith greatly increased and I lost fewer battles to demonically originated doubt, fear, unbelief and intellectualized rationalizations that contradicted the straight words of the Bible.
- I began to understand what it meant to operate in God’s kingdom as a king, not just a priest.
- I learned what it meant to be a son of God and to go after that as the top priority of my life.
- There are no shortcuts to God’s process of maturity – the wilderness is an extremely important albeit a potentially unpleasant time.
- This entire blog site, to date, is actually a documentary of what I learned during this time.
Most Importantly: If you have found yourself in a wilderness, be encouraged because this is a time when God is working out things in your life for your good and you will come out the other side much different than you went in!
NEVER CURSE YOUR WILDERNESS.
If you’ve found this article to be connecting accurately with your past or present circumstances, I hope this has been informative and insightful. Be sure, God will be speaking to you in dreams during this time! The more you understand these, the faster you will advance. Please contact me if you have dreams you need help with.
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