DECEMBER 10, 2008


Have you ever prayed, "Lord, be relentless with me!" and really meant it? The heart burden of that prayer is an intense desire that God will bring to completion all His purposes for your life, no matter what it costs in sacrifice or suffering or discipline. If I honestly pray such a prayer, I may be setting the stage for difficult times ahead. Difficult? Yes! But full of excitement, fruitfulness and fulfillment!


God will not pamper me, nor will He spare me the pains that are necessary to bring me up to the measure He has designed me to fill. If God has appointed for me a task of deliverance or leadership, I will, in the process of preparation, walk through a wilderness experience that is a great deal more pronounced and intense than the common ordinary variety of trials that all believers experience.


Jesus was in the wilderness forty days tempted of the devil, but he came forth from that intense time of testing in the power of the Holy Spirit and began to cast out demons, heal the sick, and bring deliverance to the captives. The word "drove" in Mark 1:12 indicates how important this wilderness experience was. "And immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness." This was no gentle leading. The word "drove" carries a burning urgency. Jesus was compelled by the Spirit. It was something Jesus, as a man, could not avoid if He was to fulfill all He was sent to do and to be.


God gave Abraham a promise of unusual fruitfulness, prosperity, and influence, but between the time of the promise and the time of fulfillment lay a wilderness of 25 years of walking by faith alone with no sign of the promised blessing. This long dry spell was necessary to perfect Abram as the father of those who walk in faith and to help him accept the name Abraham instead of Abram. Abram means "exalted father" but Abraham means "father of a multitude."


Joseph, as a young man, dreamed dreams of being used of God in a place of responsibility and authority. He saw the vision long before he was qualified to assume the role. Joseph had to walk through an agonizing wilderness of reproach, resentment, false accusation, slavery, and imprisonment before he was ready to function effectively as the Prime Minister of Egypt and the deliverer of Israel in a time of famine.


The apostle Paul walked through his wilderness in Arabia before he emerged as a leader among God's people in the early church. If we knew the spiritual biography of every man or woman whom God has greatly used, we'd soon see that they all had something in common. They could all point to a wilderness they had walked through before they came into an experience of abundant fruitfulness to the glory of God and the good of mankind.


Are you faced with a wilderness experience that you have sought to avoid? Is the Holy Spirit urging you to a course of action that will result in personal growth and development for you and deliverance for those who sit in darkness?


Moses became a leader and a deliverer only after he spent 40 years in a lonely wilderness. When he was finally convinced that he was nothing in his own strength, then God appeared to him and called upon him to go in the strength and authority of Jehovah and deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage. If we can see the true nature of our wilderness and what God designs for us in it, we will be better able to bear the pain and inconvenience of walking through it. Here are some things to consider about your own personal wilderness:


First, your wilderness is good for you. The Spirit drives or urges you into your wilderness because it is the will of God for you. And the will of God is always good.


Second, your wilderness will be uncomfortable. It is a time of fiery trial, testing and discipline. It is said of Jesus that "Although He were a son, yet learned He obedience by the things which he suffered." Down through the ages, men and women of God who have been mightily used of God have gone through the fire and through the flood in some personal way. Praise God for the promise in Isaiah 43:2 that when we to through the floods He will be with us and they will not sweep us away. And when we go through the fire, we will not be burned!


Third, your wilderness points to an increase in power and effectiveness. Jesus' wilderness issued forth in a mighty ministry of deliverance. The scope and measure of your wilderness and your ministry will be unique to you, but there will be a great deliverance wrought for you and for others as a result of your cooperation with God in walking patiently through your wilderness.


Fourth, your wilderness is a time of character building. The apostle Paul said, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us." Your wilderness may lead you through suffering, hardship, discipline, misunderstandings, and many other unpleasant experiences. But God is building into your inner man steadfastness, patience, wisdom, perseverance, knowledge, and forbearance. God's very likeness and glory will shine forth from you because you have walked with Him through the fire and through the flood.


Will you now accept and embrace your wilderness and walk patiently through it for the glory of God? It is important that we understand this, for if we walk reluctantly; complaining and murmuring with every step, our wilderness could become a place of bleached bones, as it was for the Israelites in Moses' day. But if you will recognize it, and embrace it, and walk through it with the praises of God in your heart and on your lips, God will bring you into a large and fruitful place! You will be totally fulfilled for you will see His glory revealed in you and through you to the building and expansion of Christ's Kingdom in the earth.




























WALKING THROUGH the WILDERNESS [Robert Fitts] 12-10-08          2

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