The Gift of the Wilderness

I’m posting this by request. This is a journal entry I wrote a few months ago about God’s work in the wilderness, and I’ve included it in a couple of retreats lately.

The wilderness is the place of solitude and silence where transformation and encounter happen. We don’t end up there by mistake, but by the Spirit’s leading and directing. It’s a place of stripping and strengthening, a place of losing in order to be found. A place of confrontation with all that possesses us and competes for our loyalty, devotion, affection, and attention.

The wilderness is a place of mirrors in which we see ourselves, and windows through which we glimpse God in a new way.

The wilderness is painful because it exposes what is true about us—if we let the Spirit have His way with us there. It’s opportunity for intimacy—where we see how God is reaching for us, longing for us.

The wilderness is a place without masks. The place where we learn what our God-given identity means: what does it really mean for me to live only as “the one God loves, in whom He delights?”

And that journey is unique for each of us.

We don’t choose the desert. The Spirit leads us there. We’d rather avoid it—it’s harsh and uncomfortable and none of my familiar idols or comforts or coping mechanisms are there (or they don’t work there).

But the testing is what strengthens us. We discover what we’re really hungry for. And it’s not just physical food. We discover how God provides everything we need, moment by moment, instead of grasping and grabbing for ourselves. We discover how God is faithful, even when things don’t work out as we hoped, planned, expected, or demanded.

We see how much we crave success or admiration or power or approval. We discover the truth that in our weakness, God’s strength really is made perfect.

The wilderness is where the identity of who we are in Christ really begins to shape us and form us—it moves from an intellectual assent into an experience that affects all of life.

And it changes everything.

May you encounter the God who loves you as you travel in desolate places.


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1 Response to The Gift of the Wilderness

  1. That’s a great word. Reminds me of the early desert fathers and mothers, by the way. And gives me encouragement in the humdrum of work, although sometimes one is hanging on there. The monotony and boredom built in. I find that perhaps something of a desert experience in which God somehow in his way in Jesus is at work. Good words! Thanks.

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