Jesus said, “It’s done . . . complete.” Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit (John 19:30). That hour when Jesus said,” It is finished” until the time when Jesus said, “Mary, it’s me ” (John 20:16) was probably the most extended 72 hour for a follower of Christ. It was a time or that space between planting and harvesting, promise and fulfillment.
What do you do when you aren’t sure what all God is up to in your life? This is a very common experience, and it can be disorienting if we don’t understand what God is doing or know how to respond to it. Some people call it a “wilderness” and for a good reason. Like Joseph in Egypt, the Israelites on the their way to the Promised Land, David in exile, and many other figures in Scripture, we are in the midst of a process between the promise and fulfillment.
Over and over you can hear the cry of our hearts through the psalmist, King David, as he says: “How long, O Lord?” “When will you answer my cry?” “Why must I wait so long for your promise to be fulfilled?” (Psalm 13). We can all identify with those words, for we’ve all had unresolved issues surface in our journey with Christ.
My greatest challenge in following Jesus Christ for over the years has been waiting on God when things are confusing. I prefer control. I understand why Abraham, after waiting eleven years for God’s promise of a son to come true, took matters in his own hands and had a baby the “natural way.” Birthing Ishmaels is common in personal lives. “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37: 7) remains one of the most radical commands of our day. It requires enormous humility.
So in spite of what others may tell you, the Christian journey is not a life of endless bliss, with a perfect marriage, perfect relationships, and a perfect financial portfolio. Perfection can only be found in Christ, for the world we live in is a fallen world. And even though life is sweet for the lovers of God, we all still face times of unexpected trials, unpredicted difficulties, and seemingly unsolvable problems. In a word, this is the wilderness.
The good news is you will make it through to the other side and you can embrace your wilderness with fresh hope and perspective, and that not only will you survive the seasons between promise and fulfillment, but thrive in them. In fact, with the right kind of response, your wilderness season can become a time of accelerated growth and fruitfulness. In Luke 1:36, you see one of God’s greatest gifts to us is God’s sign post when we’re in the middle of God doing something profound in our lives. He is doing the impossible in your life.
The time between the promise and fulfillment is a time for preparation for us. Our journey brings to us into a place of being pressed like clay in the hands of God. What wilderness do you find yourself in today? Is it a place of feeling isolated, even abandoned? Does it seem like the days passing by are taking you no closer to your destiny and the fulfillment of your prophetic promises? Could it be that the hand of the Potter is upon you right now to shape you into a mighty champion: one who will never give up and never quit?
Hope is not a passive thing, it is active at all times. It lives in hearts submitted to the truth of what God has said instead of what is seen. I learned that peace doesn’t come from information. I am only as strong and immovable as what, or who, I place my trust in. The kind of peace we are all longing for can only be found in trust. (Prov 3:5 , Prov 18:10 , Ecc 3:11, Ecc 3:8 Philippians 4:6-7 Heb 10:23 NLT).
I hope this encourages you. Wilderness seasons are a great opportunity to lean on your Beloved and learn the deep things of His Spirit. You learn to anchor yourself in the One who gives you lasting joy. You learn to carry the peace of God in every situation because the Prince of Peace is within you. You learn not to let the wilderness or the enemy shape your identity because you find your identity entirely in Him.
In the wilderness we learn to dream God’s dreams. We discover God as our source in every situation. We learn how to respond to temptation, injustice and pain. We not only endure obstacles and storms, we become victorious in them and rise above them. In the wilderness we learn to recognize divine invitation and wage war with the promises God has given to us. Regardless of what we are going through, in the wilderness we learn to find our delight in God alone.
Even in a wilderness, God will meet you and satisfy your heart with His presence. We often think that when we find our perfect place in the will of God, life will flow like a river of milk and honey. This is a fantasy and not a fulfillment of faith. Jesus was a tender plant in a desert land (Isaiah 53: 2). He was the opposite of His surroundings. In a hard and dry place, God can make you tender and overflowing with His life within.
As I began to grab hold of these truths, I found myself rising up in the face of darkness. Think about that. You don’t have to wonder if God will take care of you. Even now, let the anxious thoughts fall away as you embrace that truth. Even if you feel God is far, start declaring God’s thoughts and words about who He is and who you are until what you are feeling aligns with truth.
Remember that faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith in vain. Don’t give up. You will face your greatest opposition and greatest discouragement right before the breakthrough.
Learn from the story of Nehemiah. It was filled with opposition, lies, tainting, and slander. No matter how great the darkness feels, stand up and embrace your rightful place as a son or daughter of God with full authority over every demonic power through Jesus. Live from His reality not your own. Don’t give up. Don’t quit.
Romans 8:28 says, ”If it’s not good, it’s not the end.” Good Friday is called ”Good Friday” when the worst thing happens to the best person because of ”Resurrection Sunday.” It is coming. Don’t waste your waiting in the confusing in-between. To really receive a miracle means you must first have an impossibility facing you. Miracles come out of messes. The bigness of your problem only means a greater miracle ahead. Yes, God’s greatest faith lessons come out of calamities.
I love Ben’s talk tonight that’s why I’ve included it my blog