Wilderness Experience

Let’s talk about something, I believe is very important. 

Let me start by reading a few of my journal entries over the past month.

Good morning Lord!  Patience version 2!  Learning to wait patiently on You.  Thank you for the lessons on how to patiently wait upon you.  I have no choice, because there is nowhere else to go.  My faith is in you.  Help me stay on tract and continue learning and growing in the spirit. 

Another Day

Good morning Lord!  It’s always time to praise you.  Each day I set here believing you Lord, that you have blessed the working of my hands.  Lord, bring me through the valley, through the water, pass through the river.  As Habakkuk said, though the fields produce no crop, there is no cattle in the stalls, everything around me may seem bleak; yet, will I praise you.

Another Day

Good morning Lord!  Help me understand why at times there seems to be silence from you?  Lord, I talk and I talk and I seem to not be hearing from You.  I know I have your Word, and I trust and believe it.  But, Lord, sometimes, I need to feel, experience your presence in my life. 

Have you ever felt that way before? were you don’t feel God’s presence in your life?  You feel confused and question, “where are you Lord?  This morning, I felt out of sync. I felt lost and confused… “I asked, where are you Lord? I don’t feel your presence in my life.”  I’ve been praying, reading my Bible, doing the Christian thing, trying to move forward and grow spiritually.  But, Lord I seem to be in a dry place, a valley.  I don’t seem to sense your presence in my life.  Especially, when times seem hard and difficult. The Lord simply brought to my mind “wilderness”!  I said, “Lord, help me understand!”

The Lord then opened my understanding of feelings of being in the wilderness. As we journey through this Christian walk, we will have moments of joy, moments of happiness, moments of victory, and feel like we can move mountains because the Lord is with us. Then there are times we face sorrow, trouble, sadness, burdens, trials and tribulations.  Periods, where we feel we have to overcome one hurdle after another.  We feel hard pressed to keep walking in faith.

The thing about both the pleasant times, moments of victory and joy, and the times we are faced with the trials and tribulations of life, we feel engaged. A sense of being involved, stimulated and motivated.  We feel our faith being activate, and are actively involved. We are either basking in our victory in the presence of the Lord, or in times of trials and tribulations, we rely upon the Lord’s strength, trusting He will bring us through it.

But! What about those times, when there’s just silence, stillness?  No trials or tribulations in your life.  No victories or overcoming to revel in.  Just the feeling of still and quietness.  Nothing engaging you, and you don’t feel the presence of the Lord. You begin feeling lift alone, cut off, and even deserted.  You don’t feel the presence of the Lord. 

I’m go out on a limb here, and say, I’m not alone, sometimes feeling the Lord’s silence in my life, and how it gnaws at me. I’m sure, many of you can probably recall moments in your life when you felt the same way or you might be in a season of silence right now.

These are what we will call “wilderness experiences”. When thinking of ‘wilderness experience’ what normally comes to my mind is a barren place; a place of solitude. It is a place where we presume God’s absence in our lives.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

Do you know who is speaking these words? It’s King David Psalm 22 – the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). King David knew the Lord intimately, but at some points in his life, he felt cut off from the Lord.  He felt the absence of God in his life. He felt deserted.  He felt silence!

How about the prophet Habakkuk? “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?” Hab. 1:2

What about Job 31:35: Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me,  Psalms 13:1: How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

Psalms. 22:2: I cry out by day, O my God, but You do not answer, and by night, but I have no rest.

When we feel that we’re in a spiritual wilderness, God feels far away, distant, absent, and unresponsive… faith feels doubtful or uncertain… we feel alone, vulnerable, lost, and unprotected.   Why does God allow us to go through these ‘wilderness experiences, where we don’t feel His presence?  In fact, we feel almost cut-off from the presence of God. 

As we see, even the man, who God called a man after His own heart; as well as, other men of God in the Bible, they felt cut off from the Lord, the absences of God’s presence in their life. They felt God’s silence in their lives. They felt as if God deserted them! However, what we do not see is, their cutting off communication with the Lord. Instead, what we see is, them telling the Lord just how they felt in their dry times, His silence in their lives. It is in times of God’s silence in our lives, times of dryness and quiet, when we truly find out what it means to have a relationship with the Almighty. In fact, it is in the wilderness that proves the reality of our relationship with Him.

I have been married for over 30 years.  And, if you ever been in a real relationship, you know it’s the times where things appear to have gone silent, dry, and maybe even stale.  This is when you begin questioning your commitment and loyalty to the relationship.  When you’re in a real relationship with someone, you will go through all the stages; the initiation stage, the bliss stage, the discovery stage, the integration stage of blending, the bonding stage, the stagnation stage, the working through problems stage; and, various other stages.  Once you come to a point were you have dealt with all the relationship questions, you then come to understand your companion and relationship. Then will come a stage of silence, staleness, and seeming distance, “wilderness experience”. The ‘wilderness stage’ of all stages, tests your true commitment and loyalty to the relationship. The silence, the feeling of lost connection, the staleness and seeming distance.  It raises questions; do I abandon the relationship in search for another? do I lose hope? Do I just give up? Or, do I seeking to reconnect?  Do I seek to find out if there’s something I can do to mend the silence, the disconnect, the staleness?

In a time of wilderness, David and other men and women of God engaged in being honest with their feelings before God of feeling a sense that God has forgotten them, abandon them, their feelings of feeling isolated and directionless. Whatever our feelings, God can take it.  After all, are feelings will not be a surprise to Him, He knows them already.

Always know, that prayer is never about giving God new information – it’s about inviting him into a discussion.  So, when God seems silent and not seemingly present, we can do what the faithful men and women in the bible did, cry out to the Lord and let Him know what we feel.

Psalms 28:1: To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

Psalms. 83:1: O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! Job 30:20 I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.

The enemy wants you to think and believe that God has abandoned you, He doesn’t want to hear from you, that God is not interested in you. The enemy wants us to rely on the sensation of our ‘feelings’ to sense the presence of God, mystically hearing some word from God.  Somehow physically seeing the presences of God in my life.  And, guess what?  Far too many of us operate in just the manner the enemy wants us to – “relying on the sensation of our feelings to experience the presence of God”.  

Relying on sensation to gauge God’s presence in our lives is virtually useless as a spiritual gauge.  To base one’s faith on feelings can be disastrous. One’s faith must be in the reliability and faithfulness of God, not what we feel or sense.

When measure time or weight or temperature or speed, we stop trusting our feelings or intuition and we rely upon the instrumentation that measures these things. For instance, trying to tell the time by using our feelings, such as how hungry or tired I feel to determine if it’s a certain time in the evening most often is an inaccurate measure of time compared to using a clock to tell the time. Likewise, guessing from circumstances of whether I feel guilty or happy or peaceful or excited or lucky, is a most unreliable way of gauging spiritual reality.

What if you get on a plane, and you meet the pilot and ask him if we’re going to have a good flight?  And he tells you, “yes, we will, because I fly off my gut feeling.  I don’t bother to read the plane’s instruments; I just feel it when I fly.  You’re going to run off that plane.  Why?  Because it’s a matter of life and death, and simply trust the pilot’s feelings is ridiculous.  And, guess what?  The stakes are also far too high to rely on your feelings or circumstances to guess spiritual reality. God tells us not to lean to our own understanding…but to trust in Him. Proverbs 14:12 says, There is a way that seems right but it leads to death. God’s Word is like the precision of the instruments in a plane’s cockpit. It gives us confidence, credibility, authority to rely upon more than our feelings.

We have to understand, that God uses our wilderness experiences to refine us, grow us, prove our faith. The wilderness doesn’t evade God’s presence. Rather, it is a place to spiritual grow us, to grow our faith in Him. It is through faith, we can affirm God’s loving presence, even when He seems silent and we feel deserted. Our ‘wilderness experiences’ often forces us to seek God’s wisdom and direction in prayer.

I have come to trust God for His presence in my life, despite what I feel. As I continue to open his word daily and seek His face, while still in the wilderness feeling, I gradually regain my ability to sense and hear him.  We are to also know, there’s always a sense in which God is never silent. Psalm 19:1 tells us the heavens shout about God’s glory. Romans 1:20 shows how clearly creation proves God’s existence. God speaks not only through his word, but also through His world. This is speech, and not silence! What we call God’s silence may actually be our inability, or in some cases, our unwillingness to hear him. When we feel we can’t hear God, we can keep showing up and opening his word, day after day, to look at what he has already said — and done — until we realize God is not silent, but speaking to us daily.

We all have, or will definitely have a ‘wilderness experiences’ that we must bear; and we must endure.  We must encourage ourselves with the knowledge that God is getting us to judge our relationship with Him.   

Trusting God when we don’t feel His presence, ultimately strengthens our faith. If our faith is based on our lack of struggles or presences of joy, that’s a faith built on the foundation of sand. Such faith is only one diagnosis or phone call away from collapsing. A token faith will not survive the dark nights. When we think God is silent or absent, God may show us that our faith is false or superficial.

Detecting God’s presence in my life is more than a sensation or a feeling, it is Trusting with all my heart, and leaning not to my own understanding. In all my ways acknowledging Him, knowing, knowing, He shall direct my path” (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is my knowing; He will never leave nor forsake me.  Knowing, He has already spoken in his word and by becoming man and dying for me on the cross, and purchased my eternal salvation.

It tells us in James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you”. This is a promise God will not break, despite how we feel.  May God bless and keep you my friends.  In Jesus Holy and precious name Amen!

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