“They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” Psalm 107:4-6
W is for wilderness. Wilderness means an area that is virtually uncultivated and uninhabited; an empty or pathless area. When I think of a wilderness, I think of a desert. But, that is not necessarily the case. How do I know? The dictionary, of course! Hehe
So, if a wilderness does not equal (is not synonymous with) a desert, then what is the difference? Yes, a desert can be a virtually uncultivated and uninhabited area … and it can be empty or pathless. But, desert actually means an excessively dry place. It also can be a very desolate (joyless) place.
Are you confused yet? Well, do not be too worried because even my analytical mind is all twisted up! But, for the sake of this devotion, let us picture in our mind a true wilderness … with all of its gigantic pine trees, with its rugged terrain, and with its majestic mountains.
Have you ever watched those “wilderness” survival shows? If you have, have you ever seen them in a desert (dry, barren place)? Nope? I have not either. They have always been in a wilderness-y type place, right? In the middle of a forest far away from habitation. Did you notice that there is always sustenance there … if you look in the right places?
God allows us to go into the wilderness … into the fires so to speak … not to destroy us, but to purify us. Alaska, my home town and home state, is going through a tremendous fire right now. It is seemingly destroying everything in its path for thousands and thousands of acres. When those fires are finally gone, what is left? Black, black, and more black. Am I right? To the human eye, that is what is seen. But, remember that the human eye is finite.
In our spiritual lives, we will also be led into the wilderness and be tempted and tested like never before. The fires will rage hot, hotter, and the hottest that we could ever imagine. When those fires finally pass … and they will pass … black will be left behind. But, do not despair, my friend. God makes beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). God is testing you to see what you are made of. He is purifying your life.
If you keep watching, you will see new life sprout up in the midst of all the charred remains. With that new life comes an even greater beauty … one that could not have transpired without the fires before it.
Even though time spent in the wilderness seems like a solitary time, it is not. God is there with you and it will not last forever. The wilderness is a place to place through … not to set up residence. Say, “Hallelujah!” right there!
Lesson Objective: To understand what wilderness means and the difference between it and the desert. To learn that even though we are greatly tested by fires in the wilderness, God is still there. He will not only get us through, but He will bring forth great beauty!
Did you pass or did you fail?