I’m not talking about a literal wilderness necessarily. When I completed my military obligation, my wife and I moved back to the States from Berlin where I had been stationed for two years. We knew that the Lord was leading us to become missionaries and to do so, I needed to attend college first. But we had some serious hurdles to overcome.
My wife was seven months pregnant when we landed in Spokane, WA. We had prayed about which college to attend and the Lord had clearly led us to Inland Empire School of the Bible in Spokane. It was a new college just beginning its third year.
When we arrived in Spokane, neither of us had ever lived here and we knew no one. Every day I went job hunting but came up dry. We had rented a one-bedroom apartment and paid our first month’s rent and deposit. That had depleted all our funds. We couldn’t even afford a phone.
So, I would walk to a phone booth a block away and pray I’d find a dime to make a call when I got there. Yes, we were really that broke! Time and time again, the Lord provided a dime on the sidewalk, in the coin return, or on the floor of the phone booth.
We found a doctor and Linda went for her first checkup. The doctor diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia, a medical condition that endangered both her and the baby. So, the doctor confined her to bed for her final two months.
When the doctor bill came it was more than our monthly rent! I still hadn’t found a job, even though I was willing to do anything to support my wife and soon-to-be-born baby. We had no one to turn to other than God. So, I brought the doctor bill into the bedroom, sat on the bed next to my wife. We held hands and we prayed that the Lord would somehow meet this financial need.
The next day, an anonymous cashier’s check came in the mail. The check was made out to me for the exact amount to the penny of the doctor bill! We were stunned. We hadn’t shared our need with anyone—we had no one to share it with! But God supplied our need.
Another time, the doctor prescribed a medication for Linda. Again, we spread it out before the Lord and prayed together that He would provide. When we finished praying, I had a strong sense from the Holy Spirit that He wanted us to trust Him and head to the pharmacy. I told Linda as much and she asked, “How are you going to pay for it?” I shrugged and said, “I don’t know, but I think I’m supposed to go.”
So, I drove to the pharmacy. As I opened the car door and put my foot on the ground, I stepped into a pile of change! My heart leapt! There was so much change on the ground that it looked like someone had emptied their piggy bank. I gathered up all the coins and walked into the pharmacy. And you guessed it, there was enough to pay for the medication.
This was a significant “wilderness experience” for us. The deprivation; the waiting; not knowing the outcome of Linda’s or the baby’s health; the endless struggle to find a job; the hand-to-mouth existence; and the loneliness.
But it was during this wilderness experience that God showed us that He is absolutely trustworthy. He took care of our every need! Two months later our baby was born completely healthy. God provided a long-term job for me, and even though we didn’t have medical insurance, we were able to pay off our hospital and doctor bills within three months of the birth of our child. God is so good!
The Children of Israel went through a literal wilderness experience for 40 years. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan. Mark’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus was out there with the wild animals, but angels also attended Him (Mark 1:12-13).
The “wilderness” is a place that’s dry, lonely, and harsh. In the “wilderness” we often experience isolation, deprivation, danger, and temptation. But it’s in these “wilderness experiences” that we learn to trust God. There He reveals to us His great love and provision.
Perhaps you find yourself in a “wilderness experience” right now. Trust God. Look to Him. Draw close to Him and rely on Him.
“The Lord led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness.” – Psalm 78:52