You will win!
Have you ever had the feeling of floundering instead of flourishing? Maybe you’ve taken a new position, or you are in a new relationship, maybe you’ve moved to a new city? What does it mean when you know you are prospering in life, yet you are still experiencing a level of stagnancy in an area? I know the feeling of stagnancy/waiting and it has always made me dig a little deeper into times of introspection. This feeling of being in a holding pattern is both aggravating and useful and, in most cases, necessary. I say that it is required because if we feel wedged in and waning our feelings of frustration are a good precursor of something that we need to learn; but what is it?
· Do we need more clarity?
· Do we need more consistency?
· Do we need a coach?
· Do we need to be still?
· Do we need to pray and read scripture?
· Do we need to create a constant flow of order?
· Do we need to purge one area that effects other areas in our lives?
· Do we need to stop scrolling and start strategizing?
· Do we need to take massive action?
· Do we need to be catapulted from our comfort zone?
· Do you need to use your time more wisely?
Well these are just a few questions you could ask yourself for simplicity-sake as you take time to reflect. I was recently in reflection and studying the spiritual and natural aspects of the wild and what I found was interesting. Practically, wilderness is defined in many ways, one of the ways is, “Uninhabited, uncultivated, and unhospitable region; only inhabited by wild animals.” It is defined in another place as, “An area where earth and it’s community of life are untrammeled by man and where man is a visitor who does not remain (Wilderness.net)”. I find it interesting that the definition states, “Man is a visitor” in the wilderness- it makes me mindful of the fact that we should be aware of the times and seasons in our lives else we stay somewhere or do something too long!
A wilderness experience can represent tests and trials in our lives. Strangely, a wilderness experience can show up on the heels of our greatest breakthrough’s which can be confusing-you might find yourself saying, “I have just conquered somethings in my life or life is really good what in the world am I doing in the wilderness experience !” For example, the children of Israel in the bible were miraculously delivered through the Red Sea by God and very soon after they found themselves wandering in the wilderness.
Here’s what happened, they were free from slavery and God sent them backwards to camp on a seashore with the wilderness to their back and the Red Sea in front of them. Life’s holding patterns are necessary for us to take the time to learn what will help us in the future. God would use this strategic positioning to prove that he alone would deliver His children from a great threat into freedom. The Israelites probably thought God mixed up the strategic plans for that day, they were scared and probably tired however God needed Pharaoh (their diabolical antagonist) to realize that He was all powerful. Pharaoh inquired as to who God was and God would ultimately give him an answer. With Egypt approaching and their back up against a wall they cried out to God and God provided instructions to Moses. See Pharaoh’s question here, “Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go (Exodus 5:2).”
As the story progresses, God instructs Moses to stop praying and start acting, he could very well pray along the way, but it was a time for action. As Moses followed through with the plan, God proved his sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence by using Moses and his rod to part the Red Sea and cause the children of Israel to cross over on dry land. It is amazing to me how God can take the weak things of the world to display his power (1 Corinthians 1:27). Although Pharaoh allowed the departure of the Israelites and loaded them down with wealth on their way out, he had second thoughts about the decision and viciously went after the Israelites to bring them back to slavery. He had the opportunity to stick with plan A however, his heart was hardened, and pride got the best of him. In choosing plan B, his fate was not a good one, he and his army drowned in the sea never to be heard from again. What an amazing display of God’s power and it caused the Israelites to reverently fear the Lord and believe in Moses as their leader. What can we learn from this?
· We are not to be in despair and give up
· We are not to fear and retreat
· We are not to be impatient and do something now; especially without seeking counsel
· We are not to presume and jump in the Rea Sea before it parts
· We will see God help us in miraculous ways if we reverently heed his voice and don’t freak out
Post-exodus the plot thickens, and Israelites are free from slavery however they are in an all new, unfamiliar, dry desert place, and they are thirsty and looking for water. The bible states they looked for water for 3 days after crossing the Red Sea. How frustrating that must have been to be free but not have an essential like water, especially in the desert! They were in the wilderness for three days with no water and when they finally found water in a place called Marah (meaning bitter) it was too bitter to drink. The Israelites chose to respond with accusation and complaining to the bitter water, so Moses cried out to God and God gave a solution that made the bitter waters sweet. I am sure Moses wiped his brow with a deep with a sigh of relief as the people had not been happy with him! Again, God proved his power and presence with the leader and among the people. Notice, the complaining did not bring about a solution but a cry to God’s ear released a solution so everyone could drink fresh water and maintain good hygiene.
After the water problem was fixed God issued some instructions that would test the hearts of Israelites to prove whether they would be true worshippers or if they were simply complainers who had little interest in worshipping. Moses gave a declaration from God, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” What can we learn from the time spent in Marah (bitter)?
· We can have a renewed prayer life
· We can relinquish our self-distrust
· We can become more obedient
· We can trust God to meet our needs as we show daily dependence on Him
· We can learn new facets of God’s character as we trust Him. He became Jehovah Rapha (healer) to his people
· In the wilderness experience our motives will be examined, we will gain new experiences with God and we will be educated as we press into Him and trust the process
· God can turn our bitter times to sweet if we don’t freak out but remain in faith
The wilderness experience can be scary and uncertain, it is a time where our belief systems will in fact be tested, this experience will prove whether our “yes” means “yes and our “no” means “no”. Even in the face of fear we can be assured that God has already made a way of escape for us (I Cor. 10:13). He will not allow us to be tested more than what we can bear. God is always faithful and loving and we can depend on him (1 Peter 4:19). There is always loving purpose in God’s times of testing. Remember to do your best to make quality decisions, by asking God for wisdom. God will not override our will so when we make poor choices He is not going to override our preferences however He will intervene by a process of sifting to gain our attention and build our core strengths and values so that we can move forward in the right direction and into a place of rest. God is not in the business of handing out unnecessary consequences, but he will graciously use them to teach us to do our best. Remember to do your best to make quality decisions, by asking God for wisdom.
Learning the Lesson
Because I have gone through my own wilderness experiences, I will say loud and clear, “Leave the fruitless cycles and learn the lessons in order to flourish. We have so much to gain by pressing into the process; it will produce sharper focus. Focus is imperative, remember as you are submitting to the process it is important to stay on track by renewing your mind, speaking in faith, praying, fasting, being intentional with your time and talent. In a wilderness experience it is important to acknowledge your emotions but not be led astray by them- whatever life is trying to teach you, learn it. By learning the lessons, you will renew your mind, gain momentum, gain new life strategies, new power, gain new freedom and peace that you have never experienced before. Most importantly you are maturing in your relationship with God and learning to become more responsive to his voice. Hearing his voice is instrumental to your direction in life and living into your purpose. Remember you can have progress while you are being processed! One thing to beware of is “busy work” in the wilderness experience that can sabotage purposeful and necessary works that move you into destiny. Being intentional about what you and God have determined about who you are becoming and the good works you are supposed to be doing, this will produce a great sense of peace and success.
Plan to win
A wilderness can feel like life is one big contradiction of your faith but don’t give up because you and God are the majority in the matter, you can win! How? I am glad you asked, Jesus taught us that our victory in the wilderness is voice activated and our way out is to consistently speak the Word of God to any and everything that is contrary to God’s will for our lives. Whether God sends us into a wilderness or we get there on our own I believe there are valuable lessons from either impetus- if we will just be still long enough to be prayerful (instead of complaining) and gather the goodness we will definitely see our way out of the woods. We are all called to make impact in the world. We can only make impact once we understand that our messes can be turned into messages that have a powerful effect on us personally and a powerful effect on those we are called be in relationship with and those we are called to serve. There are so many things we can learn from a wilderness experience, here’s a short list:
· New encounters with God
· New knowledge of the Word of God
· New wisdom
· New clarity
· New confidence
· New humility
· Deeper worship
· Deeper trust in God
· Clearer identity
· Leaving old mindsets and old alliances
· New alliances/connections
· More compassionate
· New life vision
· New momentum
If you remember nothing else -remember complaining is not an ingredient of crossing over into a wealthy soul, promises and places of prosperity. I believe there is a greatness in each of us and we are all called to make a significant contribution to society and God will place a demand on what He knows is on the inside of you! Ask yourself, “Am I more committed to my comfort zone or being catapulted into purpose?” Times of testing will sometimes require you to give up the habits and life of ease you thought you wanted so that you can tap into your true passion and purpose. God is calling you to understand His ways so that you can further develop a clear view of God, yourself and others. It’s time for the revelation of the “true you!”
Gender reveal parties celebrate whether a baby is going to be a boy or a girl. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate your very own “purpose reveal”. We can miss this opportunity because you choose to whine too long about your desert place, you have what it takes to come full term and birth your new beginning. Even God says, “Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it? Asks the Lord. “No! I would never keep this nation from being born”, says your God (Isaiah 66:9). God’s sentiment here is if He blessed the nation to be conceived then He will bless it all the way to the point of delivery.
Remember these verses for encouragement:
1. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
2. The Lord will work out his plans for my life-for your faithful love, Oh Lord endures forever. Psalm 138:8
With knowing that God has made good on His promise to bring about purpose and destiny in your life it befits us to use our time wisely and make power choices suitable to living purposefully and making good destiny decisons. Realize this, the Israelites had a destination, which tells me that God has no intention of us living in life’s wilderness experiences. The destination was called Canaan or the promised land but some of them never made it there because of their constant complaining, lack of faith and disobedience. These character traits will keep you stuck, disgruntled and dissatisfied with life most likely blaming God and others for adjustments you can make yourself.
I’ll close with this, the children of Israel got the water they needed- the bible says this about it, “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. This totally sounds like a designed and tailored blessing just for the people of God most recently out of the wilderness! Wow!
God knows when we need a time of testing and a time of refreshing, they are both necessary in life. I would encourage us discern which one of the times we are in so that we learn what we need to do as we travel life’s roads and also take the necessary times of refreshing to replenish for what is ahead. I marvel at the constant care and closeness God provides in the wilderness. I live in great expectation because the bible states, “For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself (Hebrews 13:8). So, I gather that if He showed up lovingly, strategically and powerfully for his children back then, He will show up for us today. Althought we may have to travel through wilderness experiences God already has an oasis of blessing on the other side awaiting us. We are called to live from the high place with God not by happenstance- so I take the stand of faith as Moses did and I hope you will too, “But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.”
Let’s level up!