Recently I went through a time in my life where I felt as if I was standing right in the middle of a deserted land, a land that was dry in the natural and the spiritual. God had called me to sell my belongings, downsize, move to a new State, and leave everything behind. But, after being in that new environment for several months, I felt I misunderstood the assignment. I didn't have a community. My friends and family lived over forty hours away. I wasn't leading worship or doing what I love regularly. I was dry. I was empty. I was alone.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever been in that place where you step out into what God has asked you to do, but then you feel so empty and confused after being obedient?
Welcome to the wilderness.
In Exodus 14, Moses stepped out into the assignment God had given him, leading the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the land of milk and honey (aka The Promised Land). In doing so, Pharaoh stirs up a massive army to pursue them. The people of Israel faced incredible fear that day. "They said to Moses, 'Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness" (vs. 11-12). Many times, we read this story and think, "how foolish of them to not be trusting God at this moment," or "how could they speak to Moses that way?."
Let me ask you a question. When you are in the wilderness, is your response full of devotion or fear? My response was not full of passion when I first entered my wilderness. I was confused and fearful while in my loneliness! I'm sure the Israelites were confused because they were doing what God had asked them to do! They were obedient, but this army was after them to kill them! They were stepping out into that season God had called them to, but the Israelites had no choice but to be entirely devoted to God at that moment because they needed saving. They couldn't protect themselves.
The wilderness is where God prunes, sharpens and molds us into being more like Him. It's a place where we have nothing else BUT God. It's a place where we want nothing BUT God and time WITH God. It's a place where we realize that we can't save ourselves. We need saving. We need a Savior.
If you keep reading, you will see Moses' response. You see, Moses knew God's voice so well and was obedient despite what was happening in his surroundings. He immediately turned the Israelites' focus back to God, reminding them to stand firm because the Lord fights for them. And what happens next? The Lord protects them on all sides. Then, the Egyptian army gets wiped out. The sea splits.
They walk on dry land.
When in the wilderness, the Lord protects you on all sides. The enemy will come, but the Lord stays as your protector. The enemy will turn your fear into confusion. He will turn your confusion and loneliness into fear, but keep your eyes locked on the Father. Allow the Lord to groom, shape, mold, and prune you during the wilderness season. Don't be so focused on the Promised Land that you skip out on the journey to get there. You're not alone. He sees the journey. You WILL walk on dry land. The sea WILL split. You WILL go into a land full of milk and honey. Allow yourself to be in that space where you have nothing BUT God. You have a desire for Him more than your community. You have a passion for Him more than being on social media. You have a desire for Him more than watching Netflix.
In Hebrew, 'wilderness' comes from the root word 'to speak.' That isn't a coincidence. So allow the Lord to speak to you in the wilderness; you only have to be silent.