A few years ago, our family decided to become full-time missionaries in Latin America. We knew it was going to be an adventure with God, but we had no idea that it was the beginning of a journey that would take us through a wilderness season.
After attending language school, we arrived in Peru. All the comfort and fellowship that we had experienced in preparing for the mission field left my family and me to fend for ourselves. At one point in our time there, my wife fell into a deep depression that had me questioning if we should end this missionary journey that we were on and go back to the States where it would be easier to get the help we needed. It was an extremely difficult time that left us with many questions and very few answers.
After several months, we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. God had started to handpick people and place them in my life to help me in this time. God provided finances for both my wife Amanda and me to travel to Medellin, Colombia for a week which would lead us into separate encounters with God that would change our lives forever. Through the wilderness, I was able to see God clearer, and along the way, I grew stronger. Not only did I make it through the wilderness season, I came out on the other side ready to tackle a new assignment from the Lord. I believe that we are not just called to survive in the wilderness, but we have an invitation to flourish!
I want to share with you three things that I learned during this season that will help those of you thrive in the wilderness.
- The wilderness season is a season that the Lord brings you into. Sometimes, we find ourselves in a wilderness season thinking that it is an attack from the enemy, but this is so far from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, the enemy will take advantage of this season and will come against you, but the enemy does not cause you to go into the wilderness season. So many will probably ask, “Why would God take me into a wilderness season?” In the Gospel of Luke, verse 4:1, it says, “Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days.” At the end of Jesus’s time in the desert the Scriptures say that He walked out of the desert with the Holy Spirit and power! God walks you through the wilderness to fill you even further by the Holy Spirit and to fill you with power!!
- Your time in the wilderness should make you HUNGRY! While Jesus was in the wilderness, He ate nothing at all and became hungry (Luke 4:2). While I was going through my first wilderness season, I became extremely hungry. This was not a hunger that came from fasting or not eating; this was a spiritual hunger that came from having almost every piece of comfort taken from me. I started reading books and learning about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I dug into Psalms and started reading how David made it through his wilderness season. I learned that David found his heart for Hod which led him into deep worship. This all made my soul hungry for more of the Father of Heaven, the Lord of all creation.
3. God does not bring us into these seasons to make us feel alone but, rather, brings us into these seasons to bring us closer to Him. If you are in a wilderness season and feel alone, I would encourage you to press into the Father and listen to hear what He is revealing to you in and through this season. Get hungry for the Scriptures and learning! This season is a time to dig into who you are in Him and who He is.
The wilderness season is by no means easy. It is meant to squeeze you and make you uncomfortable, but what I now find exciting about the wilderness is that I know that it is a time of preparation for us to be launched into the next season of ministry and life. Embrace the wilderness and press into the Father to see what He has planned for you, and in the pressing, you will find a deeper revelation and understanding of the goodness of God and His loving heart.
Written by Jonathan Vining
Featured Image by Arto Marttinen