Purpose in the Wilderness

A few days ago during my devotions I was listening to some worship music.  I was really struggling to find a song that truly represented my heart as I wanted to worship God.  I quickly prayed in my head asking God to show me a song that represented where my heart was at with God. I was clicking thru my songs and came across one called “Hosea” by Luke Wood.  I was curious to see what it was about… and God answered my prayer! The chorus says, “We’re going back to the wilderness where it all began, back to the place where We first met. We’re going back to the wilderness where it all began, but this time it ends in the Garden of Eden.” Wow… So my heart is in the wilderness. Very true. I know this is where I am, but I had always viewed this as a very negative thing.  I figured it was my fault that I was here because I had some terrible lesson to learn because there’s an area of sin that God wants to deal with.  While that may be true at times, God revealed to me a much grander and more beautiful purpose for the wilderness.  It is the place where intimacy begins.

I’m still chewing on this… so here are some more thoughts. The song has 2 different pre-choruses that show us God’s view of what comes out of that time in the wilderness. “Though you forget Me I will not forget you. Though you forget Me I will yet allure you.” This is such a cool promise.  We despise the wilderness, but God has fond memories of it.  That was the place that we first recognized our need for Him.  We finally reached out to Him and He cherishes that place.  I picture God’s office, and it has pictures of all of His children. In the background of each one of those pictures is our wilderness.

Continuing on with the lyrics, “I said long ago that I would hedge up your way with those thorns on every side and now you wonder why you feel the pain? I am building all around you a wall of resistance but it’s unto your redemption and it comes through true repentance.” This is where the correction of the wilderness comes in.  He promised to keep us on that path of Life. He hedged the way with thorns so that we would know when we are going astray.  He builds a wall around us that forces us back into the wilderness.  But it is for our redemption, which only comes thru true repentance.  That’s a whole blog in itself, but for now all I can say is that this is powerful stuff!

“As in the days of your youth once again you will sing. Like when I brought you out of Egypt and carried you on eagles’ wings.” Once again, this speaks to me of the fondness with which God looks at our time in the wilderness.  Remember when you used to sing in wilderness? When all that was needed to sing was the thrill and awe of God’s goodness and beauty? What happened? We get to the point where even in the comfort of the lush valley we can’t sing anymore because just one thing isn’t quite right? I don’t know what the “one thing” might be for you, but I am guilty of this.  Sometimes it’s just because I’m tired… or I get frustrated that I’m here <strong>again</strong>… or this person over here just offended me… or my mind is off thinking about the things I would rather be doing in this temporary world other than worshipping my eternal Creator and Savior… That last point, well, whew! That’s disturbing to even put down here, but lamentably it’s the truth of my situation sometimes. Sometimes if even a whiff of the wilderness comes wafting into my precious valley I’ll start kicking and screaming like a spoiled brat and refuse to sing. (By “sing” I’m more referring to the attitude of my heart in worship towards God. Sometimes my lips will sing… but my heart will be far from Him, if I’m honest with you. Isaiah 29:13)

“In the latter days you will fear the Lord and tremble at My goodness. Who is this leaning on her beloved coming from the wilderness?” This is a promise, along with the quote in the previous paragraph is a promise of where I will be after this time in the wilderness: Singing from my heart in love with my Beloved, carried on the eagle’s wings of His Spirit, fearing the Lord (thus growing in wisdom – Proverbs 1:7), trembling at the awe of the Father’s goodness, and resting and being supported by our Beloved, coming up out of the wilderness!

What an amazing purpose and passion God has for the wilderness!

Something to note is this, most of this blog comes from me going back and looking at the lyrics and really pondering this point.  To be completely honest, I was a little thick headed when I first listened and thought, “Cool, I’m in the wilderness…” but didn’t really even begin to see God’s view of it until I listened to the song right above it in my iTunes.

The song was called “Beautiful Mercy” by Laura Hackett.  This is the Chorus and Bridge: “And He’s brought me to the wilderness where I will learn to sing. And He lets me know my barrenness so I will learn to lean. Beautiful Mercy, do what you have to do. Jealous Lover, do what you have to do (to bring forth love in me).”

Both of the songs talked about leaning on our Beloved.  This is out of Song of Solomon 8:5 “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” I looked up “leaning” which comes from a Hebrew root word “to support oneself, to rest upon”. When we go thru the wilderness times, we learn to support ourselves on Jesus and rest upon Him. We fully recognize our need for Him and we love Him for it.  The chorus above from Laura Hackett says “He lets me know my barrenness so I will learn to lean.” He doesn’t force us to be barren, He shows us how barren we are apart from Him.  He uses the wilderness to reveal this truth to us. Hmmm…

And referring back to my thoughts earlier on “singing” (more that attitude of my heart towards the wilderness) the 2nd Bridge to “Beautiful Mercy” says, “So I will sing… Even in my barrenness… Even in this brokenness…Even in the loneliness.” No matter what place I am in, I want to have a heart of worship and a passion for intimacy. No matter what circumstances and challenges I am facing I want to choose to sing. I want to learn to embrace the wilderness seasons and view them with the same fondness that the Father does. The wilderness experience is the beginning of intimacy, and the furtherance of it each time we visit the wilderness.

No matter what it takes, I want to grow in intimacy with my Father. As John Mark McMillan says, “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about… How He loves us…”

“Hosea” by Luke Wood:

[podcast]http://www.lovesicklives.com/content/audio/LukeWood-Hosea.mp3[/podcast]

“Beautiful Mercy” by Laura Hackett:

[podcast]http://www.lovesicklives.com/content/audio/LauraHackett-BeautifulMercy.mp3[/podcast]