Wilderness Study: What Is A Wilderness Experience & The Purpose Behind It
Hey love! Have you ever been in a tough spot that made you run to God and when you did it seemed like things got worse? As a person of faith i'm completely aware that God is present despite what it looks like and i'm pretty sure you know that too. Although, we are aware let's be real for a moment, sometimes we wonder why things are getting harder and we are looking for God to move in the situation not tomorrow..but right now, like yesterday. I am here to tell you that we are all in good company! Everyone will experience a spiritual wilderness. Today's Study will discuss what a spiritual wilderness experience is and the purpose behind one.
What Is A Wilderness Experience?
Sometimes things get hard and we go through a testing phase out in the wilderness. But just because you are in the wilderness it doesn't mean you are lost! You are not going through stuff to just go through stuff! Matter of fact, every test was God approved so He's right there with you. Just think about this, the Israelites went through the wilderness to get to the land flowing with milk and honey. Jesus went to the wilderness and after He came out He started the ministry He had been training for. How hopeful is that? Your wilderness experience has a purpose. It's not a pit, it's a launching pad! Your wilderness experience is an uncomfortable place that you will encounter. It's a place that refines, prunes, and tests you.
When we are in a horrible situation and feel bound by our circumstances, we pray and intercede. God gives us the grace to get out of bondage, but we didn't think after having patience, after being obedient, after accepting the call that we would be sent into an unfamiliar place, the wilderness. We didn't think we would be saved to only be sent to the wilderness to be tested. This reminds me of a post that Heather Lindsey made, she talked about how your answered prayers cost you something. You prayed for kids now you have them, but now you have to put in the work to raise those kids. That’s the same for the Israelites, they prayed for someone to save them from the Pharoah’s hands and then they’re saved, but now they have to work on walking with God and depending Him.
God you answered me and I am grateful that i'm out of THAT situation, but THIS situation looks harder than the last. I didn't really want to go through more stuff. On our faith journey we literally learn how to go from glory to glory. We can be “perfected” to a degree, but then the next level requires another degree of change from within. You will find that the further you go the more you have to be changed, in order to deal with your new levels.
The Purpose Of A Wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2):
To know what was in thier heart
To see whether they would keep His commandments or not
You can’t have life, bear fruit, walk through opened doors, and expand your territory in the capacity that He has visioned for you if you haven't been tested and tried and proven to be faithful. They couldn’t make it to the Land flowing with milk and honey until they passed thier wilderness experience first. You can’t make it to your abundance until you pass either!
Reason 1 - He Humbles You
Deuteronomy 8:3 So “He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
The wilderness experience strips you of any strength you thought you had. You are molded to depend on Jesus for your comfort. (The Lord is my strength Psalms 28:7-8). Without the wilderness you can say that the Lord is my strength, but truly His strength comes from your weakness. If you haven't been weak. If you haven't been naturally hopeless. If you haven't been hurt to the point where all you have is pieces How do you really know what His strength is? The wilderness allows you to be stripped away to depend on and find Jesus.
Like refinishing a table. You've already been made, but you got some stuff that needs to be dealt with. You have to be sanded down to get out the bumps and the ridged edges (humbled). You have to be repainted again (washed clean). You have to be made new (refurbished). Refurbished is taking something old and making it like new. We are made new through Jesus Christ. It says the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I have found that every level of growth requires a degree of newness. You can be perfected for a particular season, but the next season youll find that there was something else there that you needed to deal with it. Similar to getting a bachelor's you might be good in certain jobs with just a 4 year degree but when the next season comes you might need a masters. Even with a masters the way that today is, the information you had last year might be outdated for this season. It says that old wine skin, can’t be mixed with the new (Matthew 9:16). So every new level requires a degree of newness. What worked before might not work in this new season, so He sends us to the wilderness so He can do a new thing within us (Isaiah 43:19).
Reason 2 - He Tests You
Along with being humbled, He will test you. You learn how He chastens the ones He loves (Deuteronomy 8:5). When you hear the word chasten, most of us probably think of something negative dealing with discipline. Chasten means to correct by punishment or suffering, discipline, purify. It also means to prune something of excess, pretense, or falsity, refine. To cause to be more humble or restrained. Similar to raising a child there’s different ways to discipline based on the circumstance. Sometimes it’s a pruning and sometimes it’s some hardcore correction. No matter how discipline is done, chastisement from the Lord is done to purify or make you more into His likeness.
Deuteronomy 8:5, is saying there’s going to come a point where you will be chastised. I might give my toddler a level of grace when she acts a certain way because she’s still learning what’s appropriate behavior, but it’s going to be a point of time where she’s going to need to observe, or follow through, with what I was telling her to do or there’s going to be consequences. What was acceptable at one level, will no longer be allowed on the next level. When you don’t observe what the Lord is trying to teach you in your current season you cant be prepared for your next season.
1 Peter 2:2-3, Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will GROW into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
This is saying the Lord intended for us to grow, not remain right here. We can’t stay spiritual babies forever. We should want nourishment or growth like an infant crying out to its’ mother for milk. We have to grow!
So what does the Lord do? He chastens the ones He loves. Similar to a parent. There are some things that you know your child will face in the future and thier ability to win or succeed is based on them learning skills right now, so your child might not understand the chastising or the tough love but it’s necessary for thier growth. Our father in heaven molds us and shapes us. He corrects us and chastises us for our good. In order to make sure you got it, you will be tested in the area! On our faith journey we find ourselves going in circle sometimes, because we keep failing the test, but once you pass the test that same thing won‘t come at you in the same way.
Reason 3 & 4 -
Sees What’s In Your Heart & If You Will Keep His Commandments
This is the hard part about the wilderness. If you focus on the atmosphere, people, your past, etc., you will find yourself getting bitter by the minute. The perfect example is Moses. He knew who God was. He was the one called and appointed to lead the people. God performed the miracles through him. When no one else was allowed on the mountain, Moses was able to go up. I mean he had the connection and relationship that we are supposed to have, but the atmosphere changed his heart. He allowed immature people to get on his nerves to the point that it caused him to be disobedient. He was more irritated than fearful of the Lord. His heart got bitter and he disobeyed God which left him out of the promise land.
You making it out of the wilderness will determine if you live and are fruitful. It determines if you will unlock the promises that God has for you and has had for you for awhile. You making it out of the wilderness is dependent on if you have a wilderness mentality or not. We have to get out of the wilderness! We have to learn how to pass our test and see God more than anything else. If our eyes are on God, we will remember who He is. When Jesus was in the wilderness and had the fight of His life, He made it out because He was focused on God, so He didn’t feel stuck or defeated. There wasn’t anything that anyone could offer him, because He knew that God owned everything. He was able to stand on the word of God and allow His mind to be unwavered. The Israelites didn’t stand, they started wavering and fell into a wilderness mentality. That’s why they complained. That’s why they made idols. That’s why they wished to go back to slavery. Ask yourself am I passing the test? Am I learning what I am supposed to be learning in this season? What am I focused on?
A lot of the times we see being in the wilderness as a bad thing. Because we are looking at it from a negative aspect, everything about It becomes negative and we get clouded. This leads to a wildernesses mentality that keeps us in the wilderness. The wilderness is not negative it’s designed to save you from the sword and lead you to rest.
Now that you know more about what the wilderness is and the purpose of it how will you change to conquer through it? Share your thoughts below! Next week we will be studying the wilderness mentality!