PICTURE THIS: You are on a road trip with your closest people – friends, family, etc. You are following a GPS that will take you to the most perfect vacation spot. As you follow the directions of the GPS you begin to question whether you are on the right road, or even heading in the right direction. As you observe your surroundings you see sand dunes, cacti, and maybe even a large lizard. Surely you must be on the wrong route because your GPS tells you that you are only a few more miles, but you are not planning on vacationing in a desert. All of your friends are sleeping by now because of the boredom of the road trip. Everyone is silent. The GPS is even silent because there are no new directions. There is no sign of life or activity for miles on end.
We have all been in the wilderness. We are cruising along on our journey of life, listening to God as our GPS, when all of a sudden it seems like the life gets sucked right out of us. It seems like even the one we are seeking directions from is silent. Our friends are “sleeping”. All we want to do is get to our final destination, but according to the GPS, God, this is the route we have to take.
What is your destination?
God gives each of us a calling. He places passions and desires in our heart and opens doors for us to pursue those passions. For example, about a year ago, I developed a passion for missions. A month later, the opportunity came for me to go to Southeast Asia on a mission’s trip. Now, my end goal is to go to the nations. So for me? My destination will be the fulfillment of that calling. But it’s definitely not happening immediately. There’s a process… A journey God is taking me on to get there.
As you can quickly see, we cannot choose “HOW” we get to the end result that God often has for us. If you are anything like me, you are a futurist. You’re also a perfectionist. If you can imagine the two of those attributes together, they most definitely are not the best recipe in this scenario. I am constantly finding myself planning. I am planning my day, my meals, my work schedules, my future, and how I will get there. In my head I think: “I am going to be a missionary so here is the path I MUST take in order to get their”. Does that resonate at all with you? Surely I’m not the ONLY person who does this!
God had other plans though. Plans that usually do not line up with what it is I have in mind. It’s when the course of our route gets disrupted that we enter the wilderness. Why? Because in our plan, there is no wilderness. But with God, He’s needing to get our attention again. He wants to speak to us. He wants to develop a more intimate relationship with us. He wants to say “Hi, remember me, your GPS? I am holding your future in my hands, do you trust me?”
Often times we look at the wilderness and dry seasons of our lives in a negative way, but what if we radically changed that mindset? What if we begin to recognize that the desert is truly where we are supposed to be and say: “oaky God, what is it you have for me here?”
God uses desert experiences to draw His people closer to Him. The Israelites were driven into the wilderness and do you remember their response? They began to grumble and complain and told Moses they wanted to go back to Egypt where working as slaves for Pharaoh seemed more appealing! Did you hear what I just said?! Slavery seemed appealing compared to the wilderness! Yikes! Do you ever find yourself doing the same thing as the Israelites? Where your wilderness experience seems so terrible that something, typically viewed as bad, now looks and sounds better than the state you’re currently living in?
I challenge you to change your perspective on the wilderness experience. God has something for you while you are there. Something that you need to experience in order to reach your final destination. It’s a refining fire. It’s a chamber of transformation. The wilderness has great purpose and without it? You can’t reach the promise God has waiting for you.
Pastor Aaron began a new sermon series this week focused on wilderness experiences. I encourage you to listen to the first podcast to hear what we can LEARN while we are in the wilderness. http://painesvilleag.com/wilderness-a-lenten-series Church, the wilderness does not need to be a time of negativity. Rather, the wilderness can be a time where God shapes us like clay in the potter’s hands… if we’ll let Him.
Writer, Blogger, College Student