September 16, 2012
“Every servant of God, including Jesus, has spent time in the desert wilderness alone. It is the ordained “place of testing,” and the place of suffering for the flesh. You enter into it clothed in the flesh and ideally come out of it naked in the Spirit. In the desert place, you are humbled and broken down by God, and your flesh is made to suffer in order that the Spirit that is in you might come forth in heavenly power. In the desert, you learn to rely on God ONLY to sustain you, provide for you, and deliver you. It is an incredible grueling time, yet a very necessary one.
“Every servant of God must be humbled and “purified” by the grueling “desert wilderness experience.” It is a necessary time of humbling and pruning – being “cut-off” from fellowship and external influences. It is a lonely time of purification, character refinement, faith-building and spiritual testing.
“When God first began working with Elijah, He commanded him to go and live in the desert next to the Brook Cherith where he was supernaturally fed bread and meat by ravens. The Hebrew word “Cherith” literally means “place of pruning” or “cut-off.” Then God sent him to a city called Zarephath (which means “place of refinement”), where Elijah’s faith and character were further tested and refined by God. During his appointed “wilderness time” in both the desert and in Zarephath, Elijah learned how to trust God and faithfully rely on Him for all his needs. He also learned how to lovingly minister and lead God’s wounded and spiritually weak people in the form of the widow lady that he stayed with. Through these experiences, God taught him how to humbly and courageously serve Him and His people, while at the same time, spiritually prepared and strengthen him for “Mt. Carmel” where the biggest spiritual battles and victories of his life and ministry would take place. After completing his “wilderness time” and spiritual training, Elijah was then ready to be used by God in amazing and miraculous ways where he called down fire from heaven in front of all the Lord’s people” (1 Kings 18:20-40).
When I read this in a book called “In His Service” by Eric Wheeler, I was amazed to feel such a strong connection to Elijah. My wilderness experience has been a long grueling one as well. The lessons I’ve learned about myself and others have opened my eyes and my heart to how God views His children and how He desires us to live. I have had some major pruning done as I tried to kill my flesh so my Spirit can come forth. My flesh doesn’t want to die! This is why I have to crucify my flesh daily to stay humble.
The book goes on to say:
“The best way to learn something, especially in terms of training for a future assignment, is to have to go through “a type of it” in the mean time. The Bible is replete with examples of this. In order to properly rule and administer government authority, Joseph was first assigned an administration position in Potiphar’s house. Then he was made a warden over his fellow prisoners while he was in prison.
David was first a shepherd of sheep, then a “captain” over a small army and band of followers, all in preparation for one day becoming Israel’s chief shepherd and king.”
This resonates deep within me as well. I wonder what this spiritual training has been preparing me for. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone in ministry here. I was called to lead worship and lead the choir. I also feel called to tell my story in hopes that one life can be changed because of my mistakes and choices.
I don’t know what this “type” of training is for, but I know it is coming to an end. I am leaving the wilderness and headed for my “Mt. Carmel” where I will face my biggest struggles and victories of my life.
God has been so good to me! I know He hasn’t brought me this far to leave me! I know that “my righteousness will go before me and the glory of the Lord will be my rear guard” (Is. 58:8). I’m more ready now than I have ever been. So I am closing this chapter and opening the next one! Glory to God! I’m coming home!