A.W. Tozer said, “Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than an unworthy concept of God. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is.”
In the Bible, the wilderness is often associated with knowing God. The desert places are the troubles, sufferings, and circumstances which seem to actually contradict God’s professed love for us. Yet it is in the wilderness that God’s Spirit gives us practice in walking by faith in what we know. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil ...Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written,” (Luke 4:1-2; Matt. 4:10).
The wilderness is always a place of knowing, never of feeling. It is here where we lose all tangible sense of God. The Jesus we once knew seems to have vanished from our sight, suddenly becoming vague and hopelessly silent. Yet without such testing, we would have no faith at all. The teacher is always silent during the test. Thus, God’s pilgrim must get comfortable with the loneliness of the wilderness as she passes on to resurrection ground.
God purposefully and uniquely hand weaves these desert places into our journey. Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? (Ecclesiastes 7:13) Crooked paths are times of waiting and stripping of self-dependence to prepare God’s servant for greater use. Moses fled and became an alien in the land of Midian ...After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness ...in the flame of a burning thorn bush. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord ...”Come now, and I will send you to Egypt” (Acts 7:29-31,34).
Have you heard God speak from the “thorn bush” in your wilderness? ...the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching ...repentance ...as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT” (Luke 3:2b-4).
Many ministers counsel us to ask God, “What do you want me to learn in this trial?” Yet the purpose of God is not to teach something but to remove something, to simplify our belief until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child. Jesus, our big brother, leads us into weakness and vulnerability until Daddy is all we have. It’s on this barren ground that people around us become shadows. Their thoughts and opinions must mean less. Until the voices from others begin to fade in our ears, deserts and wastelands will be ours from time to time.
The crooked paths ordained by God in our lives are directly tied to our concept of God. The world’s way to discover God is to begin with what we know and interpret God through our wilderness. But repentance is learning to interpret the mysteries of life in light of the truth of God from scripture. Then, THE CROOKED WILL BECOME STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH (Luke 3:5).
Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest realities of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we find that we have not yet known Him as El Shaddai – The All-Sufficient One. Jesus alone is not yet enough for us.
Call us today if you’re struggling to believe Jesus is sufficient for your situation. We understand because we too have walked in the wilderness.