It’s a day like any other. I’m currently propped up in my little nook at the local coffee shop. I tend to find my calm here; almost a slow-down in time. I’m able to reflect, read, and focus here. I have freedom to listen to my music, write, drink some ballin coffee, and even pray here. (Yes, you read that right. I just described my coffee as ‘ballin’. I’m a little peculiar, but stay with me.) For whatever reason, it is here that I find solace in my day. With relaxation, and the ability to think however, come thoughts that I may not always want to welcome. When I slow down, I have the tendency to focus on my shortcomings, and what I have deemed as my problems. I am overly hard on myself, and I am my own biggest critic.
Although I am hard on myself, recently I have been able to look past those things which I feel have hindered my potential. I have accepted I will never be perfect, and I have come to the conclusion that my earthly problems are not something to keep dwelling on. Instead, I have been focusing on my relationship with my Maker, but surprisingly that is where my biggest distress has come from. How could seeking out the Comforter be troubling? Let me explain…
For the past few months, after returning from Israel, (I promise to write about it one day. Stay patient.) my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit was at an all time high. I was so on fire for Christ, and with what He was doing in my life that I felt as though there was nothing that could bring me down, or hault my passion.
With every breath I took, my confidence in Christ grew. I was walking in a freedom, and liberation that I had never known was available in such an amount. I could pray and immediately feel, hear, and understand what God was saying to me. He was pouring out His love, and His power, in and through me. I was able to speak with His words to those who needed it, and I was able to witness miraculous transformations in friends, family, and even myself. I was on cloud nine, and the Spirit of God was blessing my every move.
After awhile, God rebirthed on my heart, and in those around me, a dream that was given to me in the summer of 2015 while at a conference in Orlando, Florida. It was the National Fine Arts festival, and Kari Jobe was leading worship in front of 20,000 worshipers. “Unity…”
That’s what I felt. God was telling me that there was nothing beneficial in being divided from fellow believers. Denominations, and the segregation of His church were never the goal, but understandably, we interpret scripture differently; thus the different sects of the Christian faith.
Anyways, back to the vision…
After God placed in me such a heavy heart for unity in my city, country, and beyond, the night for unification was set for May 21st of 2016. Living in Texarkana, U.S.A. we decided to call it “Movement Texarkana”.
Our purpose was clear – change the atmosphere of the city, and unite everyone, regardless of denomination, and/or preference. Why could we not worship together? Why could we not, as Christians, hang out and be friends? We are the same!!! It did not matter what church we attended, we were going to bring Christ back to the center, and fellowship with each other. While in fellowship with each other, we were going to fellowship with our God. Once more, God was moving incredibly big leading up to that night.
It was set, planned, and ended up being a huge success. God moved so powerfully within those in attendance, that young people from all around our city were falling onto the alters, jumping with joy, raising their hands in surrender, being healed, and taking back control of their lives. Five or more churches were represented, and the love inside the walls of that building was so strong. There was finally unity among us. We were not defined by Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Non-denominational, etc. We were just children of the One True King. We believed differently, and we had preferences that differed, but we didn’t care… It was never about what we didn’t have in common, but rather about what we did – JESUS.
After such a victory, and such a unification of believers falling at the feet of Jesus, and offering our hearts, fears, dreams, and thoughts to our King, I was ready to take on the world!!!
All of those chills, goosebumps, and miraculous signs that were happening all around me on an almost daily basis…gone. I lost some confidence in myself. I thought “maybe I am doing something wrong”. I felt as though I had made a mistake, and maybe I missed out on hearing God’s voice telling me to go right, and I went left. I wracked my brain trying to figure out why, after such beautiful victories in my life (Orlando, Israel, Movement Texarkana) how it could suddenly stop?
It was as if God was silent…
“What do I do? Where do I turn? I have always put my trust in God for my answers, but what do I do now that I feel so lost, and without an answer from Him?”
These questions led me to the only conclusion that made a lick of sense; maybe I’m in a spiritual wilderness period.
Whoa… what does that mean!? A spiritual wilderness period?
In short, a spiritual wilderness is when we feel as though God is being silent (He is not). These wilderness periods come many times after great spiritual victories. They are times for God to determine our faith, hunger, and thirst for Him. They are times where not everything is going as planned. God is testing us to see our faith! How we react to these times of wandering in the wilderness, determines how long we stay there. Take the Israelites and their wandering for example:
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. -Deuteronomy 8:2
The Israelites wandered for forty years in the wilderness after God delivered them from Egypt. It was a great deliverance; a great victory, and God immediately led them into the wilderness to test their faith, before giving them the promised land.
The journey of the Israelites should have taken about eleven days. Egypt to Canaan is two weeks away at the max, but yet it took 40 years. “Why God???”
PURGE THE WASTE; GAIN THE GATES:
I’m sure the Israelites asked God the question of why, over and over and over during their traveling.
The answer to why God led them into such a wasteland, was to remove the waste.
Look at it this way – If you’re on your way to cook a mean batch of chicken fettuccini alfredo in the kitchen, but you realize you also have a mean batch of nasty already cooking in your stomach, do you quickly run to the kitchen and use the restroom in front of the stove where you are about to stand to cook your delicious meal? No…no you don’t. The decision to make a quick detour to your “wasteland”, or bathroom is an easy one. Even though it isn’t fun to put your food on hold, you’ll be contaminating your entire food environment if you neglect the issue before the feast.
So why did this issue not go quickly for the Israelites? If God was simply trying to help them clean out their hearts, get right with Him, and prepare themselves properly for the grand feast which was the promised land, how come it took forty dadgum years!?
It’s as simple as this – they continually chose to disobey the urging of God, and go against His commands. They refused to take care of their waste, or to let God take care of it for them.
God had prepared such a wonderful harvest of blessings for His people, but they could not let go of their sin, impurity, or waste that was unfit for the feast. If they would have let go, the wilderness period would have been over rather quickly. God uses such a time to train, purify, cleanse, and test, as I mentioned earlier. The longer we resist His just discipline, conviction, correction, and will, the longer we stay stuck in the silence.
My pastor, out of nowhere, started a series on the Wilderness right after I felt as though I was lost in one. Coincidence? I think not! He began to talk of the temptations we endure while lost in this time. Complaint, impatience, and despair lead the way. All of these are very abundant within the wilderness I am currently in. My hope rests within knowing the time of blessing, and beauty that God has in store for me is around the corner. How long I stay here, however, is up to me. I have some things that God is working on, in me. Some things that I need to move away from, and some things I need to move towards. It is difficult to let go and move on, but I know it is for the better.
The first step in moving out of your wilderness is going to sound cheesy; almost as if you’re in an AA meeting. You have to admit that there is a wilderness, and that you are in one. It does not mean that you are a horrible person, or that you are living in sin, but it does mean that God is trying to make you better! You have to seek after Christ even harder than you ever have. If you feel distant, then show God how bad you want to be close!
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”- James 4:8
Show your desperation for Him!
If God is wanting to test your faith, then what better way to prove it than to seek after Him passionately, and persistently, during the time that you feel as though you cannot feel him at all? Do not take the silence as Him being gone. He is there, and He “…inhabits the praises of His people…”
Praise Him through the storm, and seek after Him like never before.
Throughout Psalms 42 and 43, many times it is stated that the author’s soul is downcast. Even though the author of the Psalm felt like an outcast from Israel, and was going through what was most likely depression, he consistently follows up every questioning of why God has forgotten him with glorification to the Almighty God of the Universe. He knew his soul was in despair, but ultimately, that it was not because of God.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31
My whole point, is that God IS still there during your time of spiritual wilderness. He has not forgotten you, and He will never forsake you. I know this, not only because of scripture, but also because of my own personal time of trial. My wilderness is ongoing, but I know that He is still providing, loving, and moving in my life, whether it is obvious, or not.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for theLord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
So without further ado, God, I would like to say thank You. Thank You for this wilderness that I am in. It proves, to me, that You ARE THERE. It proves to me that You DO CARE. You want me to succeed, and You love me. If You did not love me, You would not send me through such a wilderness period. It is for my own good, and for the growth of my spirit. It will bring me closer to You, and closer to the will that You have for me. It will remove my strongholds, and give me an inheritance of Your blessings. I will shout Your praises from one end of the earth, to the other. You have faithfully been there for me, and I welcome, and invite You to continue convicting me of my wrongs, guiding me with Your strong hand, and speaking to me through this time of trial. I am making my way through a wilderness full of bumps, obstacles, temptations, and hardship, but without this wilderness, and without this trek, I will never be better than I was yesterday. So, Lord, my God, King of the Universe… Maker of the heavens, and the earth… The One who placed the stars in the sky, and knew me before I was in the womb…
Thank You for this wilderness. Thank you that You care enough to put me through it.
Always with love,