Walk out of that Wilderness!
Walk out of that Wilderness!
Don’t let the wilderness experiences in life make you lose your lifestyle of worship and service! Why? Because even as natural seasons change, spiritual seasons change, there is a season in the bible called “Due Season”. The verse is, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).” The key, I believe in the verse is to defy weariness and keep yourself encouraged in the faith. You can do this by hanging out with other positive believers, prayer, praise and rehearsing the story of Jesus and how he overcame in his lifetime. As you intentionallty focus your faith and pray for strength you remain in position for your harvest. So you could say there is winter, summer, spring, fall and due season! You don't want to miss your due season, right? The Greek word for “due” is “idios.” Due here means “one’s own” or “distinct” or “personal.” The Greek for “season” is “kairos” specifically in the verse it means “a suitable time or favorable moment or opportunity where you can take advantage of things coming to a head.” The Greek for “reap” is “therizo” which means “harvest.”
There is a spiritual law that states- what you sow, you will reap. If you have been sowing to things of the Spirit, then you will reap those things. If you have been sowing good things you are guaranteed to get a return on them and vice versa, bad things beget bad things. My Mom used to say, “What goes around comes around.” What if Jesus said, " Nah, I'll pass on the wilderness?" then we would not have an amazing example of how to handle our wildnerness experiences and more importantly he would not have reaped a harvest of power. You see Jesus was both God and man, all man and all deity, so during his time on earth he experienced things in natural capacity to identify with the people he ultimately came to save from their sin. That harvest of power launched him into his designated and divine Work! Contrary to popular belief you do not have to wander in the wilderness experience if you learn to be intentional about your outcome. The wilderness is a time where you may feel you are being sown in weakness but believe me if my God math is right you will reap a harvest of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, power and reverence for your life. Naturally speaking, the wilderness can be full of wildlife, poisonous plants and increment weather so being knowledgeable and equipped can help you survive the journey. There are some things you can do to glean the value from your valley experience even if it's unfamiliar. A spiritual life experience can be the same- so it is a great time to boil down what you want out of the journey. Here are some questions to start with-
1. Who am I? – IDENTITY
2. Where am I from? – HERITAGE
3. Why am I here? – PURPOSE/ASSIGNMENT
4. What can I do? – POTENTIAL / ABILITY / CAPACITY/ TALENTS / GIFTS
5. Where am I going? – FUTURE HOPE/PRESENT SERVICE
Here is the account of Jesus wilderness experience in Mark chapter 4-
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
This verse teaches us many things but for the purpose of this blog here is what I see-
1. Sometimes God will lead you into a solitary place to develop you spiritually, emotionally and in your character.
2. This time of solitude will not be exempt from temptations.
3. Just because you are spiritually conditioned or mature does not mean the enemy will not try you.
4. You will be tested in the areas of appetite, pride and power.
5. You need to be very versed in what your bible says-It takes the Word of God and prayer to overcome temptation.
6. There is a due season for you to exit the wilderness and get to work!
The enemy wants to give you things at the expense of excluding God and God’s timing to forego the formation of character you will need when carrying the weight of your assignment. If we gain popularity at the expense of the process we forego our authenticity and run the risk of becoming authority abusers.
When people don’t know/understand the purpose of a thing they will ultimately abuse it and or lose it. Don’t misuse your mantle by losing the opportunity to win in the wilderness. If Jesus would have failed the test it would have canceled the process of character formation and growth necessary to become responsible for the freedom He possessed to free others. Like Jesus, you are carrying something for someone else! True freedom requires accepting responsibility for the dominion you’ve been given by developing your character.
Jesus passed the appetite test, the pride and power tests. The wilderness was a set-up for God to put his power on display in the life of Jesus and for Jesus to walk in His God –call. When one is free from the need for power, he or she is qualified for authority. In possessing your promised place you will need your God-given authority and confidence to effectively manage your portion. Possessing the promises of God by faith is not for wimps.The tests were a temptation of what the bible calls lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The wilderness trap demanded the sacrifice of Jesus' integrity and character in exchange for indulgence. The Israelite community in the Old Testament of the bible failed this self-indulgence test in the wilderness, because they would not submit to the authority of God's voice or understand it. They rebelled against authority and therefore were not qualified to possess it. Whatever you compromise to gain, you will lose. Being able to humble yourself to the process will produce authority for the anointing you carry. Your authority will hold no weight if you compromise your integrity while in the wilderness.
I have learned in my most recent wilderness experience that I grew more as a person and learned more in the times that challenged me the most. Although some days I was so mad I wanted to quit, I instead learned to re-group, breathe and get back at it because I knew that God measured life in seasons and purpose and the place I was in was not complete purpose. I knew all things were not good but ultimately would work for my good. I knew that I did not see the promise I believed for yet so that propelled me to stay in faith, fight a good fight and lay hold to promise of God in my personal character, anointing, purpose and blessings. I also learned to let go of person, places, things and ideals that were contrary to where I was going.
While in the wilderness, you have to ask yourself if you are ready to manage life in a new way with the responsibility that will yield success or if you will remain living at a lower level where tutors and babysitters have to help you mature. For example, will you write that book, will you pay that bill on time, will you get to work on time, will you forgive the person who offended you, will you accept and move out in your God call or will you continue to need a spiritual or natural babysitter? You have to ask yourself if you are tired of being in the same place or even worse if being in the same place next year will make you even more miserable. Wilderness is defined as a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings (2): an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community or an empty or pathless area or region (Merriam Webster). That definition kind of reminds me of budding entrepreneurship-you have an idea, a dream etc. but haven’t quite pioneered the path to get you from visualizing to reality. With that being said, there is a good chance of wandering, feeling scattered, procrastinating, being involved in busy work, being unproductive and sadly feeling unfulfilled and being stuck in your wildnerness. I’ve been there, and some essential things helped me get out of that head-space:
I was finally sick of unproductive behaviors/habits
I was sick of getting the same unwanted results
I started believing what God said about me was true
I was sick of being unfulfilled
I was sick of living life without the promises of God being demonstrated in my life
I was sick of not serving my tribe
I was sick of not seeing the prosperity I knew God promised me
Most of all I was tired of lagging behind when I knew God was calling me higher
Essentially you will have to hate your comfort zone enough to leave it and take some sort of massive action toward the life you have truly envisioned for yourself. This vision includes what God has called you to be and do, that is the most exciting part. You can experience breakthrough in the wilderness if you are willing to relinquish trying to control everything, surrender your pride, and discipline your appetites to the point they no longer control you but have the temperance to control them. In addition,
getting an upgrade on your belief system will take place in the wilderness -meditating on and speaking the future you want to see without wavering. It’s only when we believe right that we act right everything else is futile which is why truth and grace is so very important on your journey. In other words, the words that must carry the most weight in your life will have to be those in your bible. Hopefully you use the wilderness experience to deepen your relationship with God and allow your soul to prosper instead of resisting the process and having to re-take your life test all over again.
If you could heighten your perspective you will begin to see the wilderness as opportunity to work toward your greater call, greater area of service and worship. Spiritually defined- the wilderness can speak of a place of discipline, conditioning, testing or deepening of our relationship with God. We probably will never admit it but we are a people that are so conditioned to busyness that when God calls us to places of aloneness or isolation we resent it deeply and display the behaviors we as adults try to teach our young ones to part with like pouting, complaining and or selfishness; you get the idea. I remember God saying in the Word he called Israel out of Egypt from their oppressor to worship Him but also to test their hearts to see what was in them (Deuteronomy 8). Sad to say some of the children of Israel did not make it to the Promised Land because they craved the past over their promise. It is very interesting to me that you can be delivered from an oppressor but not be set free from a mentality of oppression. As great as their deliverance was they refused to shift their paradigm from a slavery mentality to freed-man mentality.
As believer’s in Christ Galatians 4 teaches us that we are not step-kids to God but we are real sons- “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. We have inherited the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts that cries out to God as “Daddy”! And there is a plus because we are sons and not slaves we are also heirs to the kingdom so it behooves us to learn how to act like royalty! The difference between son-ship and slavery is two things-accepting your position in Christ along with an updated mentality and a decision to walk as a mature child of God. The children of Israel were so set in their ways or comfort zone so they literally died in the wilderness with their practices and their promise. They missed their place of promise because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord and they didn’t mix the Word given to them with faith. How many times has God told you that you are amazing or you are called to do something amazing yet you refuse to believe him? I want to encourage you to miss the part where God raises up someone else to do what he called you to do because sadly, that is exactly what happened to that generation.
The enemy of our souls would prefer our life of worship (reverence and service) be interrupted by a lustful appetite, pride and or power so we never make it to our divine nature or our divine works. The enemy will also use our mistakes against us; meaning he wants you to feel so bad about missing the mark that we condemn ourselves to point that the vision of who we are is so skewed until we slip further and further back into an oppressed life. I am reminded of David, who the bible states is a man after God‘s own heart-if you didn’t know the bible you would beg to differ. There was a time he cheated with a married woman and murdered someone to cover his affair! I believe what made him a man after God’s heart is he repented; he turned from his sins and asked to be cleansed. He had many things but the one thing he begged God not to take away was His Spirit and when he messed up he fessed up-he didn’t live in condemnation. David knew which side his bread was buttered on; he knew God was the source of his provision, protection, holiness and strength. These are attributes that will help you through
your wilderness encounter as well. In my experience one of the worst things ever is to be alive but living life with an invisible cloud of oppression over you like a puppet master that negatively weighs in on your decisions, choices, and relationships constantly tipping your successes just out of reach. Understanding who you are in Christ and whose you are is the first line of defense in a wilderness experience; compromising your identity will only lead to compromise in other areas. So it is at this point you learn to ignore the devil’s suggestion to give you an identity or integrity crisis and speak the Word only.
Although the wilderness is an uncultivated place full of wild things there is a lot that can be learned both about your environment and yourself. All these different types of things live in the wilderness, things we are not accustomed to especially if we are used to a cultured environment. You are automatically guarded because you have never been here before and you are also taken aback because you will experience things that are unfamiliar and maybe even unpleasant. Spiritually speaking all kinds of things can arise that are unfamiliar to you when you are in a wilderness, a path less traveled or an unknown place in life. I remember being in a wilderness experience after going through my divorce, I felt alone, abandoned and like my life was this big empty space I had no idea how I was going fill after 20 years of marriage. This definitely was an area I’d never forged before; I had so many questions and so much to learn about this new wide open space in my life. I had no point of reference so I took it day by day, prayer by prayer. I especially and positively fostered my self-worth, life vision and my used my authentic voice to become my best advocate. In light of my divorce I had to set new boundaries in some
relationships and even push back from other relationships that were not altogether healthy. I really had to focus on me; I’d been so focused on my family and the church that when it came to me as a person I had to re-learn who I was becoming. Self-discovery is an amazing journey filled with both ups and downs but you never lose, you always learn. This wilderness time of rezoning my life was at time to truly hone in on my indulgent “whys” so that I had a compass for the results I really wanted to see.
Wilderness experience is a time in life that is uncultivated; it is a time of learning and developing naturally and spiritually. It can be a time of both aloneness and loneliness but I found that I was less lonely (the absence of people) when I was fulfilling my goals and working toward purpose, fulfilling the objectives I knew the Lord had given me to do. The wilderness is a time when you will see what is really on the inside of you-morally and spiritually; sometimes it’s not pretty. I’ll say it again; I found that the
times that stretched me the most morally and spiritually is where I had the most growth. For example, I was having a tough time on a job once with a young woman I and others found to be a bit hard to swallow. She was in a leadership position but nobody ever wanted to follow her due to her bitter disposition and poor attitude. What’s worse she was half my age so with that add on another level of feeling disrespected. One day she was so rude I simply had to step away and whisper a prayer; I literally felt like walking out of the door for the day without looking back I was so upset. I did walk out for a break but I came back. I wanted to tell her off so badly but I chose not to, I really began to seek the Lord since it had been going on so long. It was like I was being attacked and for no apparent reason other than I was in the wrong place at the wrong time-sound like the wilderness! God reminded me that as a believer I was on assignment to breakdown haughty and faulty systems and to share a kingdom perspective practically in my daily work with things like kindness, humilty and forgiveness. He was using me to put the personal touch back in business. In a nutshell, God began to minister to me about honor; he showed me how to honor the person and the position but not the behavior. As I allowed the wilderness to improve me, I made sure I had a soft answer to turn away any anger, I purposely humbled myself with the help of the Holy Spirit in conversations and meetings and I looked for ways to improve my work. Doing these things helped me to keep the focus on me and what I could control instead of what I could not control. After some time of being stretched, I noticed a peace within myself that was not there before, even when the individual tried to get a rise out of me they couldn’t because I’d matured through the process; can you say Glory to God! I was not only delivered I was free! Sometime later I had a conversation with that individual and I noticed how calm, confident and forthright I was during our meeting and the only thing I could think to do was give God praise for his expert navigation through that wilderness. Although I hated going through the process I relished in the results God had given me.
You see, worship is more than singing a song in church, it also living a set apart lifestyle, it is living in obedience to God’s word, it serving others with your gifts, it is giving of our time, talents and money. Worship is also living out your purpose. The good news is we have an example in Jesus Christ of how to successfully wake up and walk out of the wilderness into a lifestyle of worship and service that fulfills our call to something greater.
Wilderness is a time where you will either choose your purpose or your past. Beware, something that can hinder you from making this decision is distractions and procrastination. Some of the distractions may be viable but ultimately you will have to prioritize your allegiance to your past or your future. This will call for prayer, laying those things down that you cannot control and choosing to rest in God‘s ability to bless you in His perfect timing. The wilderness can sharpen you or make you dull, it is very important to stay queued to the frequency of heaven so that you can tune in to times, seasons, directions, opportunities, coming opposition and possession of your promises. It is a time of protecting the territory in which you have already gained so you must stay alert to impending danger and exercise your authority in the Word of God and prayer to expel the suggestions, murderous attempts, destructions, and thefts of the enemy to ultimately keep you from your date with destiny. The enemy wants to keep you from the river of anointing that is going to flow from your life due to you having passed the tests. With a perspective change the wilderness can be a viewed as a platform that will promote you to your portion and your promotion to purpose! Jesus was tempted in the wilderness after fasting 40 days and nights but he passed each test by superimposing every suggestion of the devil with the truth of the Word of God!
The enemy wants to give you things at the expense of excluding God and God’s timing to forego the formation of character we need when carrying the weight of our assignment. If we gain our own name we forego our authenticity and run the risk of becoming authority abusers. When people don’t know/understand the purpose of a thing they will ultimately abuse it and or lose it. Don’t misuse the mantle- pass the test. While in the wilderness experience ask yourself, “What is my motive?” Asking yourself this question can help purify your intentions and help you understand why you are further laying your life down for a greater cause which will ultimately give you a greater sense of fulfillment. If Jesus would have failed the test it would have canceled the process of character formation and growth necessary to become responsible for the freedom He possessed to go and free others. Like Jesus, you are carrying something for someone else! True freedom requires accepting responsibility for the dominion you’ve been given.
Jesus passed the appetite test, the pride and power test. The wilderness was a set-up for God to put his power on display in the life of Jesus and for Jesus to walk in His God –call. When one is free from the need for power, he or she is qualified for authority. The tests were a temptation of self-control, power and greed. Temptation’s trap demands we sacrifice our integrity and character for power. The Israelite community failed this test in the wilderness, because they could not submit to authority or understand it. They rebelled against authority and therefore were not qualified to possess it. Again, whatever you compromise to gain, you will lose. Your authority will hold no weight if you compromise your integrity while in the wilderness.
Will it be 40 days or 40 years? How long will it take you to walk in the promise of God and the purpose of God? Do you know that there is a special grace on each of us to walk in our purpose on earth? I didn’t make that up, I learned it from the bible. Here is the verse- He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing (Ephesians 2:10 Message). God will not entrust you with any assignment unless you first get prepared to handle it, until he leads you into the wilderness to break you and make you, until you first pass the tests. Here they are again;
a. The test for APPETITE (Food, Sex, Significance/Ego, other desires)
b. The test of POWER / CONTROL.
c. The test for PRIDE.
Along with passing the tests you may want to further examine your purpose-here are some questions to help you do a dig- “Diagnose, Investigate and Get Going.”
Who are you?
What do you love to do?
What do you feel qualified to teach other people?
Who would you do this for?
What do those people want or need ?
How would they change or transform as a result of what you would give them?
Only two of those questions focus on you, most successful people that I have listened to find their greater purpose in some area of serving people or some greater purpose outside of themselves. When Jesus came out of his wilderness this happened- He left his home town, moved to another city and began to preach the kingdom of heaven. He then called his disciples and began to minister to people. Mark 4:23 says it like this, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” What will you do upon leaving the boondocks, the wilderness, and the rough country?
Freedom and responsibility go together. So let’s move from manna to management. It’s time to do what we’ve been graced for, what are you waiting on? You are not alone, you have God’s word and presence to go with you wherever you go, In Joshua 5 – God worked with Joshua so know that you are not going it alone. What I love about the book of Joshua is the time when Jesus showed up to speak with Joshua and Joshua inquired of Him, “Who are you with?” My paraphrase to this question, “ I didn’t come to take sides, I came to take over.” In other words, Jesus wants to lead and empower you to take on your call and give you the strategy to possess your land! The wilderness is training to manage the blessing of God in a mature way and in total allegiance to Him. The security of slavery is the absence of responsibility which is why some of the Israelites died in the wilderness; they identified more with slavery than freedom even though they were finally free from Egypt. They identified more with lack of courage and consumerism than creativity so they lost the opportunity to simultaneously rest in God, live and work in a new land. Some people have a hard time moving out of wilderness mentality because it takes work and requires focus but they are both necessary to walk out of the wilderness.
Jesus Christ wants you to be free instead of living in the comfort zone of oppression. He doesn’t just want to change your location he wants to change your life. He not only wants you to leave Laban's house (Genesis 31), he wants you to wrestle with Him until your character is changed and you get your blessing. When you are delivered but not free in your mind you will end up right back in the predicament you so desperately cried to leave in the first place. The Israelite kids changed locations but they never changed their mental positioning and picked up a few bad habits along the way because they never closed some old doors so they could walk through new doors. God gave us a great example in how to leave the wilderness, in Exodus, don’t be afraid, look straight ahead and move forward to cross over into deliverance and freedom. Be clear, God will humiliate any enemy in your life that tries to keep you bound all you have to do is cooperate and desire to be free. Don’t believe me, read this, “Moses stretched his hand out over the sea: As the day broke and the Egyptians were running, the sea returned to its place as before. God dumped the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The waters returned, drowning the chariots and riders of Pharaoh’s army that had chased after Israel into the sea. Not one of them survived. But the Israelites walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to the right and to the left. God delivered Israel that day from the oppression of the Egyptians (Exodus 14 Message). They walked out of slavery!
Accept God’s love and grace by faith, just accept it so you can accept your assignment and be the blessing you were created to be in the earth. Do your work during your wildnerness time so that when you walk out of it you are prepared to to take your platform and live your most epic life in Christ. Be determined to walk out with a praise on your lips and song in your heart that glorifies God in spirit and in truth. Make up your mind that come what may Jesus Christ will be the focal point of your worship. I want to encourage you to make up your mind to walk out of your wilderness with your hands up in worship ready to embrace the fact that you are and always will be God’s masterpiece created for good works and divine assignments that will both bring joy to God and you! Don't get weary, get your harvest.
"You can live above it."