It’s unbearably hot, dry, desolate and lonely, a scary place with no signs of life on the horizon.
Spiritual growth is non-existent, circumstances are dire and despair is overwhelming.
But for God’s grace, death would be imminent.
The Israelites were living their worst nightmare with long days and sleepless nights in a dangerous desert filled with uncertainty.
This vast wilderness was home to God’s children for many discouraging years after departing Egypt.
Their actions and reactions during their wilderness journey revealed me to myself in ways I am not proud of.
They complained and whined at the harsh living conditions and doubted God though His presence was evident with a cloud, fire, manna, quail and water.
Wild, ferocious animals never ventured into the camp because His protection surrounded them.
And as if their griping and doubting wasn’t hurtful enough to Him, they turned from Him choosing to worship a worldly, cheap imitation god instead of the God who had provided and protected them time and time again.
Forty years of countless miracles, protection and provision came and went without any experience of spiritual or personal growth.
You would think they would emerge from the desert with astounding faith, maturity, wisdom and knowledge gained from having a front row seat to incredible miracles but it never happened.
It’s easy to sit back and judge the Hebrew children.
How is it that they repeatedly witnessed God’s love, His faithfulness and miraculous displays in the worst of conditions and never learned to trust Him?
Until one day God kindly pointed out I was just like them.
Oh the truth hurts . . . but as I often say, it also heals!
In my wilderness moments I conveniently forgot all the times God intervened when I was drowning in messy circumstances, many of my own making.
All those past miracles were forgotten the minute I found myself back in the wilderness.
It was much easier to blame and complain while stubbornly intent on handling the mess my way even though my way wasn’t working and never had.
One morning after a throwing a spiritual hissy fit about my current undesirable circumstances wondering why I wasn’t experiencing any progress He boldly, clearly and firmly replied “My daughter, if you cannot grow in your wilderness you will never be able to grow on your mountaintop.”
Ouch! He was right.
And THIS was a turning point in my life.
Those wilderness struggles I whined over were actually opportunities to create spiritual and emotional growth and learn life-changing lessons.
When we choose to look for those lessons, express gratitude for our blessings instead of focusing on what we lack and remember the countless times God rescued us even though He didn’t have to, we become wiser and stronger, spiritually and emotionally mature.
The wilderness becomes a proving ground for promotion and prosperity.
But if we cannot grow in our wilderness we will never be able to grow on our mountaintop.