The wilderness is one of the hardest places to survive. There seems to be little water and little sustenance. It is just a matter of surviving. It is also the place where the people of God who refused to go with God into the Promised Land wandered for 40 years. It took that long to prepare the next generation to enter the land.
There are times when we have a choice to make and we make it using what at the time seems to be quite sensible criteria. Yet it turns out to be the wrong choice. As time progresses it becomes increasingly obvious that we have made a mistake as we end because we find ourselves wandering around a wilderness.
I have known that there were things that I was called to do for what is now decades but I have faced all sorts of trials and set backs. Some of them of my own making but not all. It has even been a variety of challenges
Talk about being frustrated at my lack of progress. You see my desire was to get out there and do the stuff helping others. I was not happy about spending years being stuck in the wilderness. Even when I thought I had got out of one wilderness I was struggling because it now appears that I had found myself in another.
How did I manage just to change which wilderness I was in rather than finally escape?
I had a choice to make. the problem was that I was not in a good position to make that kind of choice. There were basically 3 options.
- Stay close to what I was familiar with.
- Go back to what I used to be familiar with.
- Go somewhere completely new and different.
I did think about going somewhere new and different but that was confusing. Where do I go? Yes I could go anywhere. If truth be known that was the problem. I was not in a good place at that time. I was so close to a recent earthquake that the idea of searching for somewhere new was too hard to handle.
Going back to what I was familiar with was tough as well. You see there had been a chasm that had opened up. It was closing but it was still not easy to go back that way on a permanent basis. Then there was the need to prove that I did not have to depend on the familiar that others had suggested would happen.
That left me staying close where I was familiar with. It was a sensible choice based on the circumstances. Yet I still found myself in a wilderness. The thing is I was making a choice that was based on one set of criteria based on geography. There were other criteria but it was hard to measure them. I thought I had made a reasonable guess but I got it wrong. I found myself in another wilderness.
Wandering round a second wilderness was just as frustrating
It was OK to start with I was free enough to get on and do something. I did get on some things. Problem was things did not work out very well. It was not just one thing but many different things.
I did some extra training that helped me work out more about what I was going to do and why. That was encouraging as it proved to me I was doing the right thing gaining experience of working with the sort of people I thought that I would be working with. Problem was that that fizzled out in a whole series of misunderstanding and confusion. I tried a change of direction and tried doing something practical in terms serving people like that. Problem was that those attempts fizzled out in a mess of confusion and misunderstanding.
I learnt a lot of things about what not to. OK helpful in the long term because they proved to be good learning experiences. I tried to find another way around the obstacles and guess what no matter how hard I tried or what I tried I still met brick walls.
Getting out of the second wilderness
This crept up on me it was strange as a started to feel a really strong draw back across that chasm to where I had come from. I realised that I was trying to prove the wrong thing to the wrong person for the wrong reasons.
The thing about making that change was that it meant that I could get out of the wilderness that I had found myself in. This time I was not trying to get out of the wilderness. The fact that I felt as though I was in a wilderness did nothing to stop me making the change that led me out of it. I hope that makes sense.
Lessons learnt from this season of frustration
I don’t know if I made a mistake heading towards the second wilderness or whether I needed the experience of being in that wilderness or even both at the same time. I do know that by being in it for about 7 years has delayed the eventual start to climbing the mountain.
The choice of entering that wilderness was made on criteria that later proved to be in appropriate. One criteria did not change for each move. One thing that did change was that I had written out a vision of what I wanted to find at the other end. A year or two after I arrived I looked at what I had written and realised that I had found what I said I wanted.
I thought I knew what I wanted the first time I moved and found myself in the wilderness. Well I did have an idea of what I was looking for but it was not very detailed and definitely not written out.
The thing is because I had spent so much time in the wilderness I knew what I did not want. I don’t know about you but I find it a lot easier to explain what I don’t want. Most of what I wrote out as part of that vision was the opposite of what I realised that I did not want. For example if I was not keen on somewhere with few windows and dark furniture then my written vision said that I wanted somewhere that was light and airy.
Do we get what we expect?
When I have looked back it seems as though I got what I expected. When my vision was not very distinct I did not get what I needed. I mean it was like looking through a thick pea souper fog at what is ahead. I had taken some guesses about what I wanted but that was all.
When I did have a vision that clearly explained what I wanted or needed I got what I said I wanted. When I was in the wilderness I sat and thought what I wanted on the other side and amazingly I got it.
Is this really biblical?
That has set me thinking where is this idea seen in the bible. I thought of the common verse used in relation to vision. Habakkuk ch2 v2 Where the encouragement is to write down what God tells him will happen. This vision is written in such a way that it is easy to read and not only that but the tablets it is to be written on are to be carried around the country so that people can read.
Look at the steps here
- Listen to God for His vision
- Write down what God tells him
- Write it down so it can be read easily i.e. make it easy to share
- Take the writings all over the place so many people can see and read it.
I look back at how I tried to write that vision. I must admit I bought a program for writing out a vision but I adapted it slightly. They left God out but I put Him in My process was listen to God for what He wanted me to do and write it down. I then added some positive statements that were useful ways of countering the negative self talk. The aim was to overwrite ungodly beliefs with biblical truth. I also checked the old prophecies I had on file to see what people had heard God tell them about me and then shared with me.
Next step was to write it down in such a way that it was easy to share. In fact I typed it out in such a way that it was easy to read. Not only that but it was worded carefully so that things were written as if they had already happened and in a way that there was no negative wording. Once it was written out I recorded it on to audio files that I could play. Yes it was made so that it was easy to listen to again and again.
Phew at least that suggests I have not fallen foul of New Age mumbo jumbo. It looks as though what they are teaching is the counterfeit Well I am not surprised about that?
And there is more…
I was prompted to have another look at that passage. That was when I spotted the next verse. In effect this says the things revealed to you will come to pass. They might not come when you expect them but they will come at the appointed time.
The promise is that if God really has revealed something to us it will happen. We just have to follow the instructions given earlier i.e. listen to God, write it down and make it clear to others and it will happen.
Ouch the written vision that was prepared with God’s help was the one that helped me get out of the wilderness. Think about it when this visioning process was done in accordance with the Master’s instructions He made sure that He put His super on our natural so that it actually happened.
If that is the case then maybe I was right. Not chasing God for a vision and doing things my way not His way probably did slow my progress to the Promised Land. Not writing it down probably did show my progress. Not making it clear enough to share with others probably did slow my progress.
No wonder I ended up being frustrated. The first time I tried finding a way out of the wilderness I ignored what Habakkuk was saying. Thankfully I was manoeuvred into following the Habakkuk’s advice “by accident”. I didn’t deliberately look for something that would put a mechanism in place that would mean that I found myself outside the wilderness. It just sort of happened. That is the wonderful thing!