The Sweetness of the Wilderness

When asked if I am a Mary or a Martha, I must confess that a lot of the time I am a Martha with deep desires to become a Mary! I like to be productive and feel as though I am accomplishing something. I enjoy being involved, in the thick of things! Now here we are with Covid-19, in isolation, and time feels as though it has turned to molasses! For many of us, it feels as though we have been launched into a lonely place, a desert, or a wilderness. Social distancing is really hard! Whether we like it or not our schedules are cleared, and we have time to sit at Jesus’ feet! This all reminds me of an ‘accident’ that became a ‘God moment’ several years ago…

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I was leaving the home of a friend when my ankle flipped over, and I tumbled down the stairs fracturing my kneecap. For six weeks I couldn’t do anything. I found myself in this wilderness place with all this time on my hands! I felt cut off from the heart of things, I didn’t see many people, and didn’t go to church. Sound familiar? Initially, I was miserable, but after a few days, I determined that the enemy was not going to use this time to crush me, to depress me or cause me anxiety. I would use this season to draw closer to the Lord, to sit at His feet, and really hear from Him.

The Lord took me to the book of Hosea, and right there, in that desolate place, something incredible happened. My beautiful Saviour revealed that He had such a desire for me that He was drawing me away, pulling me into the wilderness to be alone with Him. Sometimes we get so busy doing ‘stuff’ that we forget, the Lord’s desire is for us to come away with Him. In Hosea 2:14 the Lord says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her.” This is exactly what the Lord desires to do, so much so that He will allure you, entice and draw you away with Him. He wants to be alone with you, in a secluded place, just the two of you.

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The Lord drew me away and began to speak comfort to me. Do you know what comfort means? So often we think of comfort as perhaps a consoling pat on the back, a couple of encouraging words, in my case a “don’t worry you’ll get through this” or a “this too shall pass” – but that isn’t it at all! The Hebrew word for comfort comes from ‘labab’ which means to speak to your inner man, your soul, mind, will, and heart. To be enheartened and become intelligent. Jesus wants to speak right into your heart, to give you understanding and revelation! But there is more – ‘labab’ also means to ravish the heart, encourage, make the heart beat faster!! My Lord, my King, my Redeemer desired to ravish my heart, to enchant, enrapture and delight me. To so overwhelm me with His love for me that my heart would beat faster! He took me away, into the wilderness, to a secret place where no-one could find me, and spoke into my innermost being. He took my breath away! I have to say I was spellbound, tears poured down my cheeks as I finally understood.

Jesus desires that the wilderness would be a place of sweetness, a place where your love for Him would be strengthened. Jesus wants to give you so much, but you have to stop for a moment to receive it. Hosea 2:15 says; “I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” It is in the wilderness that we receive our inheritance, our vineyards. As the Lord pours out His endless river of grace over us, we receive our birthright from Him, a life that will be fruitful and not barren, fertile and not sterile. In the place where we should receive judgment, instead, we are given hope.

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It was in that same Valley of Achor, that Achan sinned against God and was disobedient. All Israel stoned Achan and burnt him with fire, they raised over him a great heap of stones and this place was called the Valley of Achor or trouble -Joshua 7. There are so many times in my life that I have been disobedient, or even slow to be obedient. I have a habit of trying to argue my way out of what the Lord has asked me to do for Him! I have sinned against God and know my heart is deceitfully wicked.

Now here I am in the wilderness, in the Valley of Trouble where I don’t deserve any more than Achan himself! But God desired to give me the Valley of Achor as a Door of Hope, He chose this time to pour out His great mercy and grace upon me. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

It was after this purging in the Valley of Achor that the Israelites went on from victory to victory, taking all of the Promised Land, even to the point where the Lord stilled the sun in the sky so that God’s chosen people could win the battle! He stilled the sun in the sky for them and He would do it for you! Achor was a Door of Hope for the Israelites and the Great I Am intends to Open that Door of Hope for you.

This Door of Hope is the springboard upon which we shall walk into our Promised Land, but we have to do this by walking through the Valley of Achor first. By embracing our wilderness, leaving behind the sin which so easily entangles, releasing to the Lord everything which would hold us back, we can then confidently walk through that door right into the hope of our calling.

What a glorious day it will be when you walk through that Door of Hope, a day when you shall finally be set free to be everything God wants you to be. As the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, as Almighty God delivered them from the hands of their enslavers, they rejoiced and sang. The Israelites were finally set free and not only were they free, but their enemy was drowned in the sea, never to enslave them again. You see, hearing the truth shall set you free, “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” – John 8:32. Right there in the wilderness, Jesus will whisper truth in your ear, the truth of His love for you, He will release you, empower you and set you free!

“And it shall be, in that day,” says the Lord, “that you will call me “My Husband,” and no longer call me “My Master,” (Hosea 2:16). What a promise! To be able to see the Lord as husband! I realized that the scripture says, ‘in that day”, and I asked myself, “In what day?” In the day that Jesus lures you into the wilderness and speaks to you in a passionate way, that is the day. When you are in the wilderness place with your Lord there will be such a change in you that you will no longer see him as your Master but as your bridegroom! You may go into that place with the mindset of a slave, but you WILL leave it with an enormous change in your way of thinking, seeing the Lord as your husband! And it shall be, it shall be, this is not a conditional promise – it is something the Lord says will happen. You shall leave the wilderness knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus is your bridegroom!

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Jesus is the kind of bridegroom that will treat you with the greatest tenderness, the utmost respect, with gentle loving-kindness, with immense compassion. Jesus is the supreme defender and protector, a shield about you, a refuge that you can run into. A husband who believes in you, knowing that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. He listens, even hangs on to your every word. Simply put, He adores you!

During my time in the wilderness, as I listened to my Saviour whispering in my ear, everything else seemed to fade away. All that I considered important no longer seemed to be important anymore. All my cares, anxieties and fears were put to flight. Today, if you are in the wilderness, allow your Saviour to wrap His arms around you and whisper tender words of love in your ear; “You are safe, you are loved, and you are my bride!”

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