The wilderness is a barren place – at least as far as imagery and word connections are concerned. The wilderness is silent and empty. Navigation may be impossible in the wilderness – familiar landmarks and signposts non existent – water very scarce – large crowds absent – and the way through and out a frustrating mystery. Because of all these things and others the wilderness is also a very dangerous place. People may die in the wilderness – not only physically but spiritually.
Conversely the wilderness can be a place of safety, refuge, renewal and restoration – although it is sometimes difficult to believe this when we are in it!
In my experience God takes us to the wilderness many times on our spiritual journey. Why might he do that? I think there can be many reasons – chief among them that he may draw our hearts towards him alone – free from distraction, competing claims and the business of life.
It was from the edge of a barren place that the beloved saw her lover and asked –
“Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice?”
Song of Solomon 3:6
So it can be for us in our wilderness experience – a fresh revelation of The Divine Lover and His passion for us! I believe that it what he longs for – even if he has to take us to the wilderness to attract our attention.
The wilderness as a place of renewal is confirmed by the original Hebrew word used in such contexts. It is the word word “Midbar” [Wilderness] also [according to an expert in ancient Hebrew] a word which holds the meaning of – “A place of order, or a sanctuary”. The thought is of the wilderness being a place where things are put into their proper perspective and order.
It is also interesting to notice that it was a wilderness experience to which the Psalmist was referring when he said in Psalm 68 –
“You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.”
So if you find yourself in the wilderness today – please be encouraged. Don’t run but wait! Your wilderness can be a place of spiritual renewal, redirection, refreshing, rest and romance!
“For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.”