The wilderness is that far place, away from the comfortable, away from ease, away from the place that you think you should be. But the wilderness and the waiting are part of a plan God brings to us to shape us into his image.
Remember with me the Israelites as they are freed from Egypt… for the first time in centuries they are able to flee from the oppression of slavery, and their domination by the Egyptian culture. The emotional culmination of their hopes and dreams were coming true. As they put their sandals on, and loaded their carts it had to feel like a foreign place. They were being called away from the familiar, even with its burdensome slavery. They were being released from those shackles, given opportunity to start again, begin a new chapter of life.
And then as the Israelites seem trapped at the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptians, who changed their mind on this freeing of the slaves, charging after them. No place to run, no place to hide… but they are not alone because God is there. God intervenes with a powerful miracle, parting the waters so the entire troupe can cross on dry ground safely.
They have seen miraculous things, and known the powerful saving hand of God… yet he directed them into the wilderness. In my thoughts I have always read through the wilderness experience without great thought about what Lena Abujamara mentions in her book “Stripped“. She develops the idea that the wilderness was a purposeful place to train and develop character in the people of Israel. The wilderness is inevitable – it is a time of stripping away those things that hinder us from our relationship with God, and strips all of those idols, and things that take our attention away from God. The wilderness can be a bootcamp, or it can be a lengthened protracted painful experience. Teach-ability, and willingness to yield to the training, surrender the authority for handling this life to God and it will go well.
So the challenge is to go through those times in the wilderness with a willingness to remain teachable, looking for the direction and leading of the lord. And to obey.