“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)
I don’t know a person who hasn’t found themselves wandering through a Wilderness at some point in their lives. Between childhood and adulthood, life will hit with an arsenal of unfair and uncontrollable circumstances. Some people I know, myself included, have travelled through multiple iterations of various Wilderness seasons. Health issues, loss and grief, moving, identity challenges, peer pressure, financial difficulty, job stress, parenting, social media comparison traps, and relational issues can cause a person to be stranded and searching. Yet, as the journey continues, the Wilderness of survival morphs into a purposeful training ground that yields strength and skill sets that only pain and persistence can build. When you find yourself at the brink of giving up and giving in, you can find purpose and direction in the Word of God!
So, how do you go from one season to another within the types of Wilderness? And, how do you go from the point of desperation to liberation? It’s simple, really. Easy? Not so much, but simple. First, you have to allow God to do the good work in you to its completion (Philippians 1:6), and that includes staying in each phase of Wilderness until God tells you to move. You can’t rush it, and you can’t avoid the change when it is time. You can’t stop the pain or the rejections of life, nor can you settle into the predictability of comfort if you want all that God has to give you. No, if you want to step into the Promised Land, you have to be willing to SURRENDER YOUR THOUGHTS of what’s best for what God has allowed to work together for a better future! Despite the temporary discomfort of the learning process along the way, you will come out on the other side stronger and more free than when you entered the Wilderness. You only have to give up the title of C.E.O. of your universe and take up your cross, which will be used to catapult you into your God-given purpose. You will have to run your race in the way that only YOU CAN through one Wilderness to another until you are FREE.
Not a tall order, right? Well, choosing wisdom over wants is harder than it seems when you live in a world that tells you to “Do what makes you happy! You can have everything you want delivered to your doorstep instantaneously! It’s easy!” The thing that instant gratification does NOT tell you is the price you will have to pay in order to “get it your way.” I used to ask God, “WHY?” with every hardship that came my way. Now, I see the storms of life as proof of a Good and Merciful God, because each storm, hardship, and season I want to quit ends up blessing me way more than I would have asked for myself! The Survival Wilderness challenges your perspective, and as your perspective shifts, so does your direction of your life in the best possible way!
It all starts with acceptance. In the season of survival you learn how to:
- Fear Not as you step into courageous acts of obedient trust when all Hell breaks loose.
- Stand Firm in believing what THE WORD says and not what you see falling apart all around you.
- See God With You as you praise the little daily miracles and provisions.
- Be Still as you wait in strong prayer for God’s promises.
Once your mind is on the right perspective, then God is so good that He gives you the development needed to build your strength and skills. Instead of giving you something that you are not ready to handle, you are given the Wilderness known as The Training Ground. In this season, you:
Prepare through Practice
Stand Firm on the Word
Apply Action Obediently
In this season, you learn how to silence the flesh and build consistency. You learn to say, “NO!” to what you want now for something much better in the future! Faith becomes not a word you throw out in a flippant way. It becomes a way of life as you step out in confident Trust that as you do your best, God will do the rest. Obedience precedes, and often contradicts, the normal reaction to stress. Praise, Joy, and Calm Confidence become the new norm amidst the storm. You learn to live out Hebrews 11:1:
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (NLT)
The new you brings hope to not only yourself, but also others who are just entering The Survival Wilderness. But God does not stop there! No, He finally arms His People with that which only God can give. Once you are strong enough, you get the benefit of Conquering within the Wilderness before you take over the Promised land!
Conquering within the Wilderness
This is the point in which the chains fall and the first true taste of Freedom whets the appetite. Your circumstances haven’t changed, but YOU HAVE! What used to send you into panic and fear, or leave you discouraged, no longer has the power over you anymore! How you ask? It is by the Grace of God and His Guiding Words. By this time, you will have been pummeled like a human pinata, except instead of cringing with each hit you get excited, because you feel like the sweetness is about to burst through the cracks! You realize the Power that YOU HAVE and you start to wield the sword God gave you as your weapon to war with! You may be slowed temporarily, but your confidence overrules your consternation. You begin to live in your identity as a CHILD OF GOD! Here, still in the Wilderness, you begin to claim God’s Words and Promises over every situation, and the flicker becomes a full blown flame! God’s Word says (NIV),
- “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32
- Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
- “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
- “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child, and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:7
- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
- “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
How will you andI know that we are on the edge of breaking through to the Promised Land? We will not be shaken with the temporary afflictions of life. Instead, we will accept each season in the Wilderness as protection, practice, and preparation for what is to come. We will become ready for the next steps regardless of when they come, and we will REJOICE for the provision that we have in this moment. Anxiety and worry will be replaced with peaceful purpose. We will not live for an escape from our reality, but we will celebrate what was, what is, and what is to come.
I’m here 15 months Into the Wilderness. Yes, it took me this long to relinquish my stubborn ways, and yes, my life is still far from restored. Even so, Fear has been replaced by Faith, and I am excited for what is to come. I appreciate not only the “easy good,” but I praise God for the challenges too! I look forward with grateful anticipation and hold onto each moment excitedly knowing that:
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJ; emphasis mine)