If you feel like you’re trapped in the wilderness, please read on.
Interesting things happen when I’m in that weird state between sleep and awake. I think because my mind is fully open—not yet burdened with the worries of the day—the Lord feels like He can speak to me more freely. That being said, this word came to me a few weeks ago as I was waking up, and I hope it blesses you as much as it blessed me.
I believe there are very specific tasks God has called us to, which only WE are capable of doing. To get us ready for the dream, He creates a tailor-made wilderness just for us; one that, when we have made our way through it, will have not only helped us to be willing but fully CAPABLE of carrying out His good, acceptable and perfect will.
So why is this word encouraging? I mean, we’re still talking about a (usually unpleasant) wilderness experience, right? Well, my thinking is this means God hasn’t abandoned us. This isn’t some random, haunted forest we’ve stumbled onto, but rather, a tough and miserable obstacle course (like the ones I had to maneuver through in Basic Training) made especially for us, not to torture us, but rather, to ready us for our true calling.
As it stands right now, many of us are unprepared, but we will be, soon. How do I know we’re not ready? Because the path we’re on hasn’t yet intersected with many of our visions, which means the Lord is still making us ready to handle “THE DREAM.”
Just like Army Basic Training, God knows the specific kinds of trials, tribulations and exercises we need to suffer in order to achieve our dreams. An unprepared, untrained person is not a Soldier, and is incapable of going to war without being slaughtered. As training prepares a Soldier, everything we’re going through is getting us ready for that dream, and we cannot, literally CANNOT achieve it without going through what we are right now.
Let’s consider the various “wilderness stages” of Army basic training:
YELLOW PHASE (weeks 1-2): According to the “GoARMY” website, this first stage “focuses on developing character, enhancing performance, and adapting to life in the Army.” You begin to learn to conduct yourself as a Soldier. We could liken this to the stage in our life when we realize it’s time to grow up and be an adult. Some never reach this stage, but for those of us who do, we start trying to conduct ourselves as responsible, civilized people. We go to college, trade school, get a job, etc, and begin to maneuver through the first stages of adulthood.
RED PHASE (weeks 3-4): This phase continues building confidence and improving overall fitness. Along with marching and land navigation, Soldiers rappel from a 50-foot wall as part of an obstacle course exercise. OH how I remember that wall, and I, along with many others, were terrified to step off. When I began rappelling down, however, and then hit the ground safely, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I’ve rarely felt swept over me.
In this phase, Soldiers also receive training on how to prepare for chemical and biological attacks while learning how to properly use a protective mask. They start building confidence, along with learning how to survive various enemy attacks. This phase is about learning discipline, values and teamwork, and can be likened to our everyday lives.
Remember, we’re not off-topic here! We haven’t switched from “tailor-made wilderness” to “Army Basic Training.” Just as every single activity carried out in Basic Training has been created to prepare someone to be a Soldier, our tailor-made wilderness was created by the Lord to prepare us for our future.
WHITE PHASE (weeks 5-7): Soldiers continue working on physical fitness, and begin marksmanship training. This phase “culminates in a two-day, two-night field training exercise known as The Anvil. It builds skills in responding to chemical and nuclear attacks while helping master working effectively within small team(s) and (to) refine medical training.”
Think of this stage as one of those “life tests” we all hate so much, but which never last too long. Maybe your car completely broke down in the middle of a busy intersection, or out on the highway. Or a family member goes into the hospital, narrowly escaping death, only to come out and make a full recovery. UBER-stressful, sure, but usually we can figure out a way to work through these times fairly quickly, just like the two-day “Anvil.”
BLUE PHASE (weeks 8-10): During this final phase, the Soldier continues “learning advanced marksmanship.” Soldiers train on advanced weapons, like machine guns and live grenades. At the conclusion of the blue phase, once a Soldier has passed all challenges, they “will be qualified to wear the Army Black Beret and earn the right to be called a Soldier.”
The problem with comparing Basic Training to life is that we have no clue how long each life-phase will last. If we are truly trusting in the Lord, however, we have to believe Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Notice it doesn’t say everything works out for our good, but rather, “the” good. I’ve come to believe, as I’ve stated before, God goes to great lengths to build His Kingdom. There are horrors in this world, to be certain, and they are not “good” in any respect. That being said, I don’t know how many times I’ve spoken to people—either one-on-one or in groups—about my struggles with chronic pain and depression, only to have some come up to me afterwards, SO thankful to discover they were not alone in the darkness they’ve suffered. This is an example of God working something out for His good which the devil meant for harm.
I once had the honor of speaking at the Living Waters Church of God in Washington PA , where my good friend Mike Singo serves as Pastor. In my message, among many other pains I’ve survived, I mentioned being molested as a young child. After the service, an elderly gentlemen came up to me in tears.
“Thank you so much,” he wept, giving me a hug. “The same thing happened to me when I was a little boy, and I’ve never told anyone until today.” He cried in my arms, and I could literally feel him letting go of that darkness.
How amazing to have the Lord use such a terrible event to help lance a decades-old wound like molestation.
Was the wilderness of molestation for my own good? Absolutely not! But God BROUGHT good out of it by letting others know I survived it, and they can, too.
We’re suffering, yes, but we must stand on the Word of God, believing everything really will be ok, eventually. Our wilderness was tailor-made to prepare us for something greater, so keep that in mind the next time you get frustrated about your dreams not yet coming true.
Those dreams are coming, believe that, and try to be patient while you’re waiting.
I’m actually preaching to the choir on that one.
Many blessings, my friend.
Quotes and pictures: https://www.goarmy.com/