Wilderness and Wastelands

Wilderness and Wastelands

Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

 

The delivery man has been busy the last couple days. Last week, I ordered items for my “new” home office that I hope to one day make my full-time place of employment. I want to come home. Be with my children more. Do the things that I used to do free from the hectic schedule of an employer. It has been a long road getting back to this place in my life. I was here about eight years ago as our youngest prepared to go to kindergarten. What would I do with my time? That’s when I got the call from one of my very best friends, “Don’t you want to come back to work?” I remember thinking as I was visiting my parents – not really. But as time went on she became relentless in her pursuit until I finally agreed. The job would turn out to be a blessing as the economy suddenly shifted leaving us in need of two incomes. I had no idea. BUT God knew and had already made a way. But now God is doing something new. The last few years have been a wilderness. No one ever expects their life to come so close to the edge of Eternity not once but five separate times. When it is your child, your world is shaken and turned upside down. Instantly my priorities changed, my desires with them.

So back to my shopping spree, I am determined to start this new chapter in my life. This new thing that needed some “new things”. Since we now have a vacant room in our house for the first time ever, there is space to be filled and a place to work in our home other than my bedroom. When the first glimpse of an opportunity to come home revealed itself, it has been a light at the end of a dark tunnel. The details of this show all the markings of God just enough to get me interested and motivated but not enough for me to blow it. Last night, I couldn’t wait to open the boxes and assemble the new furniture. My husband offered to help but I was so motivated it was not necessary. As the chair and desk took shape, I could feel the excitement rising up inside of me. It’s close. The new thing is so close I can feel it coming with heavy anticipation. God I am ready. I want it. I am ready to see the pathway in the wilderness. I want the river to flow through my wasteland. I am not entirely sure how it will all play out this wonderful Plan of God but I am completely confident that I want it.

It’s funny how the Word of God changes as our heart does. It remains the same itself but through understanding and wisdom we see what we did not see before. Two words stuck out to me today as I read this – wilderness and wasteland. I am all too familiar with the dry and empty feeling at the end of such travels. It is that place where we become barren, desolate, devastated, deprived, destitute or lonely. This can affect us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone has peaks and valleys in life. Wilderness and wastelands even Jesus.

Matthew 4:1 (NLT)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.

 

Jesus experienced the wilderness in this life. He was led by the Spirit to know exactly what mankind was going through so He could show us how to do it and empower us to make it through. Jesus overcame the enemy with the Word of God. The Word of God is working in our life even when we get lost in the wilderness and wastelands. There is purpose in your struggle. There is meaning in the change. The wilderness of life is that place when God takes you from the old things and delivers you into the newness of life that He planned. It is a place of challenging each human heart to trust the Lord and not the world. It exhausts human strength and ability so we become reliant and dependent on Jesus. There are certain powerful things that happened in the time of wandering between what you thought life would be like and what God really had planned.

Exodus 14:13-14 (NLT)

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. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

 

The Children of Israel had left Egypt with Pharaoh holding open the gate but then the man had a change of heart. He sent his army to pursue the slaves and bring them back to serve him. What was he thinking in letting them go? What caused such a lapse in judgment? As the people saw the chariots coming, they were afraid. Sure that they were going to die in the wilderness, they panicked. But God had a message in the madness for His People. Stay calm. The Lord himself will fight for you. The hardest part of change is overcoming the desire to go back. Leaving our comfort zone always produces discomfort at first. God is doing a new thing, but it will require a change in you. Do not expect the enemy to let you step freely into the next new thing that the Lord has for you but know this. He is fighting for you!

Deuteronomy 2:7 (NLT)
For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.

 

God provides in the wilderness and wastelands of life just like He does in the harvest. You are blessed in everything you do because you have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord making you righteous sons and daughters of God. It is our inheritance that sustains us until we can thrive again. It may not be comfortable. You may not notice. The Lord allows us to lack nothing because He is with us. We must be careful and thankful consumers of the Goodness of God so we see His Provision and Faithfulness. It is there – always even in our wandering.

Joshua 24:17 (NLT)

For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us.

 

God has preserved the integrity of you. Who you were created to be? The very thing that you are purposed to accomplish is all part of God’s Word for your life and cannot return to Him void. Bear this in mind when you are going through the fire of refinement for you will not be consumed. Remember this in the flood that seems overwhelming because you are not going under.  Even when the storms of life wreck every aspect of your plan or what you thought you were going to do – always remember the Lord preserves us for His Will and His Way for His Glory which fills our life with His Goodness every single time. The Lord is working every detail of our life for our good. (Romans 8:28) He is perfecting that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8)

Psalm 63:1 (NLT)

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

 

The wilderness and wastelands of life are the very place that we learn to hunger and thirst for God. It is the moment that this God-thing becomes personal. It is when we intensify our pursuit of Him. We earnestly search for the Lord in our emptiness, weakness, barrenness, devastation and desolation. It is a good place yet uncomfortable and unyielding. In the end, it gives way to something far greater than we could even think to ask for when we tough it out making it to the end of our journey for more faith as we surface with confident hope that is leading us closer to Him.

Isaiah 35:8 (NLT)

And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.

 

The Highway of Holiness is a road less traveled because it requires a total release of self to fully embrace God’s Will and Way. I used to think that this was something we did in a moment of great emotion and a trip to the altar but what I have discovered is that in moving us from glory to glory it is a lifelong pursuit. No one arrives overnight. Many will abandon the effort in the pain, heartache, hardship and struggles called change. But then there are those in their brokenness who still consider God worth having and holiness worth chasing who keep walking even when nothing makes sense or everything seems to be falling apart. They see the potential of brokenness in the Healing Hands of Jesus. They understand that price of repentance and true salvation that requires an inward change the impacts our direction in life. It says in Isaiah 35:1-8 that this is the place where the wilderness and desert are glad as new life arises from them. This is the truth that strengthens tired hands and weak knees. It is the word that strengthens us when we want to give up but know God is doing something far greater than we can see. It is the confident hope achieved by faith that says no matter what I know that what God is planning is far better than anything I could ever accomplish. It is this determination that makes the impossible suddenly possible even in the most barren of places.

Psalm 51:7-12 (NLT)

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

Wilderness and wastelands always lead to repentance. Repentance is simply turning more of our heart over to Jesus Christ. I can tell the Lord I am sorry for my sin but unless I am committed to living for Him and trying not to sin – I will never escape barrenness in life. There is something so freeing in pouring our heart out to Jesus. Even if you cannot come up with anything else but to say Lord give me back the joy of my salvation. Just to be more thankful for Jesus begins to make a positive change and impact our life even more. Joy and peace flow for those who are willing to come to Jesus for everything. I want a loyal spirit. I am desperate for the Presence of God in my life. I am willing to obey Him…now.

It took a lot of “stuff” to get me to this place. As I stood in the home office that is now coming together in the middle of the night when a sensible person would be sleeping, I was overcome by joy and peace that I have not felt in a long time. I was confident that this is God and we are moving in the right direction even though other than a desk and chair nothing else has really changed yet. So I began thanking the Lord by faith for what is coming with each word, I could feel more faith rising up and my hope fortified with confidence found only in the Presence of God. God is doing something new. It is coming. Though it is not here just yet, I can rejoice because I know it is coming because the Lord said that it was. His Word cannot stop until it accomplishes that which it was set forth to do. God is changing the atmosphere of my life. He wants to do the same for you.

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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