One swift kick.
The frustration of the last ten months had come to a head and with all the patience of a 3-year-old, I took it out on the side of the tub with one quick kick.
Tubs are unforgiving.
My ankle began to swell with shades of blue and purple and soon I couldn’t bear any weight on that foot. For the next two days, I hopped and hobbled around, painfully aware that my heart needed fixing more than my ankle.
I’d been wandering a wilderness of isolation and waiting after we moved from a town I loved to a new large city. I didn’t doubt God had led us to move, but the months looking for a new church, new house, new homeschool group, new swim coach, new everything had taken their toll.
I longed to be settled. I missed the mom friends I’d left. I missed the familiar faces at the grocery store and running errands. The lease on our rental was expiring, our furniture and things were wrapped in plastic in storage and I longed for the permanence of a home of our own.
“He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions.” Dt 8:15
Maybe you’ve known that kind of wilderness.
A wilderness of isolation where you’ve found yourself without a circle of intimate friends or without church home.
Or a wilderness of waiting that, despite your prayers and pleas, continues to stretch out past your point of endurance.
Maybe it’s a wilderness of deep pain — something that’s shattered life and you find yourself wandering a trail of despair and debris.
When I’m in a wilderness, the first thing I want is out. How long O Lord? When will you bring me through? I ask God. When will this end?
But that focus on getting OUT of the wilderness can lead us to miss all that God has for us IN the wilderness.
While our wilderness circumstances may feel emotionally or physically barren, they can be spiritually rich.
The wilderness is a place of latent fruitfulness.
Here are 3 truths when you’re in the wilderness.
1) God leads His children TO the wilderness and IN the wilderness.
God intentionally leads his children into the wilderness. He didn’t stop paying attention or let go of us.
God led the Israelites into the wilderness. He led Elijah and David and Jacob into the wilderness. God also led Jesus into the wilderness.
And where God leads, He also provides. When God led Israel into the desert, he gave them fresh manna every morning. God fed Elijah meat and bread through ravens and provided safety and men for David. After Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness, God sent angels to care for him.
2) God reveals Himself in the desert.
It was in the wilderness that God revealed himself to Hagar. Hagar had run to the desert after being mistreated and rejected, but there God appeared to her. “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Ge 16:13
It was in the wilderness that God appeared to Moses. From a burning bush on the far side of the desert, God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and revealed himself as the I AM, a name he’d not even revealed to the patriarchs. “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them.” Ex 6:3
It was in the wilderness that God revealed Himself to the Hebrews as the Bread of Heaven. The Living Water. The Holy One. Law Giver. The Rock.
And it was in the wilderness that God took Moses to the top of the mountain where he displayed his glory and proclaimed himself: “The LORD, the LORD God, is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion and truth, maintaining loving devotion to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.” Ex 34:6
3) The wilderness is a place of preparation, not permanence.
God doesn’t intend to park us in the desert places of our life. He uses them to develop us and prepare us for the places He is leading. This is a pattern seen over and over in the Bible.
God led the Israelites into the wilderness to make them a nation, to give them his law and to show them how to worship to prepare them for the Promised Land.
God led Jesus into the wilderness where Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and was then tempted – all before his public ministry.
And Paul spent three hidden and quiet years in the desert before any of his missionary journeys.
The wilderness is never meant to harm you; it’s meant to form you.
He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions…to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. Dt 8:15-16
God intends it to go well with us.
Though we’re tempted to kick against the wilderness places, we can trust that God has led us there and will provide for us there. He will reveal himself in ways we’d never know otherwise and will use the wilderness to test us and prepare us for the end he already has in mind.
Anchor your faith in these truths when you’re in the wilderness.
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Beth Karadeema says
Very timely…Thank you! Also sending this to a friend! Reminds me of this Valley of Vision prayer also:
Help me to see that although I am in the wilderness, it is not all briars and barrenness.
I have bread from heaven,
streams from the rock,
light by day,
Fire by night,
thy dwelling place,
and thy mercy seat
Lisa Appelo says
What a great poem. I was thanking God in my journal this morning how he is so incredibly visible in our wilderness.
Kathi Lee Dean says
This is exactly me today! Similar circumstances. I left a place I’d lived for many years and had many, many church friends and family, to a little known place in another state where all my prayers could not bring me a new church home or friends. I work from home, so socializing with work friends wasn’t there for me either, as before. But the Lord is precious to me during this time of waiting, and He has shown me that I am in the wilderness, so I have been praying for Him to show me what I need to learn while I’m here. I appreciate your blog. It rings true in my spirit!
Lisa Appelo says
I’m so glad this met you! Yes for waiting well — it’s hard not to move ahead but wait patiently. So worth it!
Kathy Bannister says
This is a great article that I needed to read today. We’re coming to the end of our 6th year with my husband fighting cancer. When he was first diagnosed in November of 2012 they told us to get things in order because he wouldn’t be here for Christmas. God brought us through that wilderness and he has lived to see 2 additional grandchildren born. He is stage 4, matasticed, and tomorrow we go in for a PET Scan to see if the cancer has shown up somewhere else. There are no treatments for his type of cancer. Over the last 6 years he’s done every experimental treatment they have. This article reminded me that God is always with us especially in the wilderness. Thank You
Lisa Appelo says
Kathy, I’m praying for you as I’m typing this. Cannot imagine walking the road of God’s beautiful gift of life while going through the treatments to keep the cancer at bay. I’m lifting you and your husband to the Father now. xoxo
Number 3 is where it’s at. Preparation,not permanence. I will remember this alliteration, and there’s another one:PROMISE. ❤️
This is great, Brinly! Thank you for sharing with us. May God continue to richly blesss you.
Lisa Appelo says
Yes, always His promise. Thanks, Brinly.
Inspiring and encouraging insights! Thank you for your faithfulness in passing on what the Lord is teaching you. This is bringing clarity to my heart about my current situation. Praise God who is intimately walking with us and guiding us through so many different kinds of ways!
Lisa Appelo says
I was just thanking God for his clarity this morning! Praising him with you.
Susan Pitman says
Such clarity in this post. It puzzles me why I always cry to leave the wilderness when time and again, God has shone up BIG – right in the midst of the desperation. Thank you for providing these clear and specific markers and reminders.
Lisa Appelo says
He does. But the wilderness can sure be painful….so grateful God shows up mightily. Thank you, Susan!
Kristi Woods says
Spot-on. Gosh, it often “feels” as though He’s forsaken us in those desert spots, but maybe our eyes are on the tubs of life vs. things of heaven. Discouragement and lonliness are two I battle at those times. Thanks for being open and transparent, Lisa. xo
Crystal Twaddell says
God has never failed to reveal himself in my wilderness seasons and although I never know the nature or timing of the next, keeping this in mind brings comfort and bolsters my faith. Great post, Lisa!
Leslie Newman says
Lisa, this is very good. I really like to remember #3 when feel like I’m in the middle of the wilderness. Thank you for these reminders.
Hey, Lisa. Thanks for this. I have spent these last few years in situations that sound a lot like yours. It’s good to know we’re not alone. I don’t know why I also kick and scream against wildernesses, myself. I think the worst thing about the wilderness to me, is that I always feel I have arrived there because I / we did something wrong. But that’s not true. That’s not the proper perspective, and does nothing but discourage. So, I love point #3 as well! And, I just read “Hinds Feet On High Places” again…and that really helped me a bunch. (PS-I’m in your Christian EBA Bloggers’ Group!)
So very heart touching and a beautiful reminder to lean on the Lord in our times of struggle. He is forever present and for that I am so grateful!! 💛
Thank you Lisa,I really needed this.I’ve been asking these kind of questions:”When is this gonna end?how & when? Or what must I do to come out?.thank you So much,I feel enlightened.💖👑
Very Much relevant interpretation. God bless you
Sebastian Diniz says
As I was working for church in kuwait, and under that church I have my language church 80 members, because of COVID-19, they terminated me and gave release to transfer my residence but if few months they cut my visa and put absconding case on me. They stop me entering church compound and stop my congregation and I doesn’t know what to do that time. I was waiting on Lord Jesus Christ. God gave victory over every thing, my residence got done and I got basement to start my service, time of COVID-19 we never stop the service we had to meet in houses, even we had Christmas and new year service in Basement to God be the Glory! God thought me lot for this 9 months.
Thank You for this article, it was a great help for me and for my church, I was preparing a message on Luke 4 and I found this article when I google about wildness.
Chukwuebuka Egbuna says
I am delighted to read about the 3 amazing truth of wilderness. I agree with you that wilderness is a place of preparation and not permanence. Wilderness in the present world does not necessary mean that one should be in the deserts, bush or dangerous terrains as portrayed in many verses of the old testament bible. Of course one can be in a comfort zone yet in a very difficult situation much harsher than wondering in the wilderness alone in isolation. Wilderness can take a form of long-term illness, chronic diseases, slavery, childlessness, suffering, loss of valuables or love ones, depression, mental problem, joblessness, stigmatization and racism, war and terrorism, disappointments, marital turbulence or bondage. An act of a situation beyond the help of a fellow man. One sad truth is that many have died while going through the wilderness. Some voluntarily took their own lives because the end is not in sight. The question is, must everyone go through the wilderness? The answer is, many have already done so without knowing. It is God’s way of training those He wants to use to accomplish great tasks. Virtually all great men mentioned in the bible passed through the wilderness. In the wilderness, one needs to embrace God and take lessons from the bible. You are about discovering a hidden secret of the world if you can persist.
An author and academic Researcher
God gave me a revelation yesterday and told me that I am in the wilderness right now. I’ve been feeling all this frustration and wanting to kick and scream. Some days I feel like I can’t do it anymore but am always reminded by the fear and love of the Lord that God is greater. I don’t know where I’d be without faith.
Thank you for these Bible verses that I can meditate on and hold onto through this season. Much love to you!
Asking for permission to share your quote with the wilderness image at an upcoming church conference as part of my presentation. The presentation will be recorded, and put on a website. I would share your website address and attribute to you.
Lisa Appelo says
Hi Tara, Thank you for asking. I’d be honored for you to share it with that attribution. If you’ll email me at email@example.com, I can send the photo.
Patricia Farmer says
God does guide our footsteps. I was watching the movie Gospel of John. I had a question about Jesus’ baptism and wilderness timeline. Then I saw your articule. I have been in the wilderness for a few years. Physically and emotionally it’s getting more intense. Wilderness of chronic pain, relationships, depression, speech difficulty, limited range of motion in my arms. I’m at the place of having difficulty getting dressed and going to church so I haven’t been in 5 our 6 weeks. I’m thankful for church services on youtube. Sometime i kick and scream emotionally. Really want to do it actually.
Moments of acceptance. Times of thanksgiving. Still praising and worshipping Him through the pain and confusion of the wilderness journey. Sometimes feel soo alone. BUT, WHERE WOULD I BE WITHOUT THE LORD. HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU JESUS!