• Nothing in our life is purposeless, not even our wandering in the wilderness (Dustin Crowe)
  • It is so easy to become more attached to the gifts of God than to the Giver—and even, I should add, to the work of God than to God Himself (Watchman Nee)
  • Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do (Corrie ten Boom)
  • The ladder in Jacob’s vision connected him to God. In the same way, Jesus connects us to God. If we want to know what God is like, we look at Jesus. Jesus is your ladder. It’s not up to you to get to God (Max Lucado)


TEXT: Deuteronomy 29:3‘With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”


When I heard the statement that ‘the wilderness is not meant to destroy you’, a story of a farmer who was determined to grow yellow roses came to mind. The farmer prepared the ground, added fertilisers, planted the cuttings, and ensured that everything that needed to be done was done. The flower grew very healthy, produced rich green smooth leaves but no flowers. When the farmer consulted after the frustration of not getting the desired flowers, he was told that the kind of flower he expected did not do well in such a fertile environment. In the same way, a Christian in green pastures may produce leaves but not fruit. ‘’This is what the LORD says: “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness . . .”(Jeremiah 31:2).


Wilderness according to the Oxford dictionary is an area devoid of human habitation, cultivation, or significant use. It is a place that is rough, harsh and just wild, making it inhospitable, even dangerous. The wilderness is a place of isolation, as at the time when Moses had to run away from Pharaoh and his people (Exodus 2:11-15). The dream of the future and his reality were miles apart as he had lost the prospects of being an heir to Pharah’s kingdom and a liberator of his people. The wilderness can be a locale for intense experiences such as lack of food and water as experienced by the children of Israel once they were out of slavery in Egypt; the fear of being pursued by Pharaoh and his mighty army in addition to crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14). It is a time of fear, isolation and meaninglessness as Elijah could testify (1 Kings 19).  Pregnant out of wedlock, alone, lonely, hungry and with nowhere to go was Hagar’s wilderness (Genesis 16). Hannah, married, well-nourished with a husband’s love and not in need of material things, was in a wilderness of barrenness (1 Samuel 1).    All these experiences of God’s people are reminders that wilderness is a reality of life.




Time to know God for who He is – There are times God allows the wilderness experiences so that His people can have time to know Him. ‘Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened.’ (Exodus 7:16).  The difficulties experienced in the desert make people turn to their own strength to change their circumstance, turn against each other as they seek someone to assign blame, give in to their fear and helplessness or turn to God who is able to make a way where there seems to be no way.


The Spirit of God can lead one into the wilderness as happened to Jesus – Following Jesus’ baptism by John, and affirmation as God’s beloved son, he ended up in the desert. ‘Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. This wilderness experience prepared Jesus for the great ministry that he did.’ (Luke 4:1-2). Good people, Godly people, serving with vigour can end in the wilderness, alone and hungry. That allows the devil to take advantage and bring suggestions that on the surface look good.


Fear – Elijah ended up in the wilderness following Jezebel’s threat (1 Kings 19).  That was after a clear manifestation of the power of the Living God. ‘The prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”’ (1 Kings 18:36:37).


Other sources are all around us– Growing older can isolate one from many things while exposing one to a life unfamiliar and not shared by many. Barrenness and other factors that do not follow the normal expected format are among the many causes of loneliness.




To witness the power God gives – When one realizes that the very ground you are stepping on is sinking sand, you search for what is meaningful. ‘If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you will be depressed. If you look at God, you will be at rest’ (Corrie ten Boom). That is what Moses had to come to terms with as the people had left what was familiar though difficult, but now they were lacking a basic need, water.  Unfortunately, people complained against Moses instead of calling upon God, but Moses cried to God.   And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant (Exodus 14:31). In your wilderness, look up to the one able to do far more than you think or imagine.


Determine the information to rely on in making daily decisions– Jesus in the wilderness was tested with common human needs: food, fame. Jesus quoted the scripture that was internalized in him. It is the word not just in the bible or mobile phone, but in the mind that will help in the wilderness. No wonder Joshua was told to have the book of law in his mind and to meditate on it 24/7 (Joshua 1:8)


Internal fountain of life – Jesus defeated all of these temptations by knowing God and having a personal relationship with His Father. Jesus knew God’s character, methods, principles, motives, purposes; thus, He knew the true meaning of Scripture. For this reason, Jesus was able to quote Scripture that exposed each temptation for the lie that it was.


Know and worship God for who He is not just what He does – God lets you be lonely, so that you can come to know Him as your friend. God lets you be frightened and worried, so that you can come to know Him as your peace. God lets you be weak, so that you can know His strength. In the wilderness, God reveals Himself.


Wilderness experiences can be a time of transformation, resulting from the quietness and solitude of the wilderness, where there is room for God to speak. In Scripture, it is clear that the wilderness experiences are transforming by drawing people into a relationship with him. Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”’ (Exodus 15:22). God is faithful and His eye is always on us His children. There is no place which is not under His supremacy and no situation is unknown to Him. The Lord gives us a song in the wilderness but those who complain and complain, grumble and compare themselves with the worldly standards hardly ever get through the wilderness. Life is full of offensive people, thus the need to inculcate the habit of listening, loving, forgiving and dependent on the nourishment that only God can give. The testimony of those who have lived through all kinds of sorrow, disappointment, injustice, and loss is more convincing than a life lived in ‘green pastures. God leads us by His Hand whatever terrain we find ourselves in. The wilderness experiences give people a chance to separate themselves from idols, crowd and personal beliefs that cripple one from knowing the Living God and His power. It is what enable people to worship God in Spirit and truth, the kind of worshippers God seeks (John 4:23). Wilderness become rich, enriching experience when one learns to depend on God’s word. God knows the terrain of this life and know the nutrients needed for growth and productivity.  Are you helping those around you know that the wilderness is not forever and that there are benefits?


The Christian life from start to finish is based upon this principle of utter dependence upon the Lord Jesus.” (Watchman Nee)