Julie Meyer (of IHOP-KC) spoke recently on how the wilderness often becomes a door of hope and divine encounters:
Hosea 2:14-15 says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her / Bring her into the wilderness / And speak kindly to her. (15) Then I will give her her vineyards from there, / And the valley of Achor as a door of hope. / And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, / As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.”
Another example of this is when Moses was in the wilderness and then in doing his daily routine the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush–when he turned and looked, God opened the door to him…
She exhorted the church to therefore be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5-6), meaning to cheerfully submit to God’s plan even when He gives your dream to another–humility, she said, is the willingness to be ignored by men and serve the lowest of the positions for Jesus’ sake. We have to find great Joy where He has us–even when it’s the back row. When we truly humble ourselves, God brings opportunities we couldn’t imagine: 2 Chron 7:13-14, Prov 8:34-35.
I’ve heard and read John Bevere speak with a similar heart about how God transforms us from the wilderness to power in the Holy Spirit. He’s said, roughly, that the Lord is raising people up in the wilderness–training them in a powerful way through obstacles that others aren’t having to go through so that He can give them the Elijah anointing (which was also given as a partial fulfillment to John the Baptist). The wilderness is like a special boot-camp to strengthen us in the Lord. Then, we will proclaim the Truth (there will be a stress on repentance) without the fear of man because we have such a strong fear of God. The fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom.
John the Baptist was trained for ministry in the wilderness, then, “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him” (Mat 3:5). We don’t have to worry about the details of our ministry if the Lord is behind us because “a man’s gift makes room for him…” (Prov 18:16).
The key is consecration to the Lord–it’s a spiritual wilderness (though sometimes with physical realities).
We are led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, but come out of the wilderness in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Think Jesus as He’s tempted in the desert… or Joseph… or Abraham… or Moses… or John the Baptist… and so on… most every powerful leader is trained in the desert before facing the giants–and supernaturally releasing the power and glory of the Lord.
When I asked the Lord why it would take a wilderness experience to find that door of hope and that power of the Holy Spirit, He immediately brought to my mind the following answers:
- We have to be completely God-focused, submitting to Him entirely (willing to do God’s will even at the loss of jobs, friends, respect, material things, etc). If God is not our number one love, the wilderness will help us to put that love back into focus.
- We have to STRONGLY hear our Lord’s voice and be lead by Him alone. Too often, we rely on crunches (other people’s faith/experiences, religious tradition, …) because they’re available, and we forget to inquire directly of the Lord. There are so many ways He can speak to us. Let’s not limit His voice.
- We have to see the power/things He will give us from His perspective so that we are good stewards of them. Everything we do must be filtered through a pure Love for Him; we can have no attachment to things (though of course we appreciate them) and Jesus Himself must have a higher place than any power/gift He gives us (though, of course, we are commanded to walk in power, which means first spending a lot of time at His feet).
- We have to be purified from every encumbrance that is hindering us from running the race. In this way, the wilderness becomes the place where baptism in fire occurs: it’s a chance for us to allow the dross (wicked/foolish/fleshly desires) to surface so we can ask the Lord to take them out once and for all.
- We build endurance, maturity, and a rightful view of the Lord’s character despite what others are saying (or not saying) of Him (assuming, of course, we’re pursuing righteousness in the midst of the wilderness experience like Job). In other words, because there are no physical pleasures to dull our spirits in the wilderness (over-indulgence of the flesh dulls the spirit–which is one reason why we fast), we are able to deeply align our spirit to the Father’s and gain His wisdom, thus maturing, and strengthening us. Job received a rightful view of the Lord through His trial; His friends (though some of their statements to us may seem ‘logical’) didn’t have it!
- We connect so strongly to the heart of God that we desire to extend that Love to others. In this way, we learn how to fulfill the first commandment (to our best ability) and it begins to overflow into obedience.
- We build Faith that if He can sustain us in the wilderness, He can continue to sustain us no matter what. We can also encourage others with our testimony. Faith helps us to walk worthy and confident in our callings.