Living in the Wilderness of Solitude with Jesus

 

 

I am in the midst of a two-month sabbatical from traveling ministry, and have answered the Lord’s call to “come away with Him” into a place of solitude.  My normal day-to-day life still goes on, yet I am aware of His presence, His voice, and His leading more clearly as I pull away from lesser things to focus on Him more intently.  I am reminded of the lyrics in an old hymn: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!  This is where I am living…

Already there is so much the Lord has been speaking to me, working in my heart, and giving me revelation concerning.  I doubt I can share them in their entirety because so much is still “in the process”.  While I cannot share the results of a completed work, I can express the portions He has begun in me.  Phil. 1:6 He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Several years ago I spent about 18 months in Psalm 51.  When that season of my life was over, I felt assured that the Lord had completed something profound in my heart.  Yet I have found myself back in that same scripture passage again…  In fact, I have found myself back in several scriptures, and several books, that I have read before many times over.  Yet this time, I feel I am gaining new “eyes to see and ears to hear” what His Spirit is saying and experiencing a greater work than I did before.  I guess I would liken it to “another level” the Lord is taking me to.  For me, “another level” is always a deeper place of commitment, submission, and humility.

In Hosea 2:14-23 the Lord gives a picture of how He takes us to “another level”.  He allures us (with His love) into a place of solitude, away from lesser distractions, where He strips us of our idols, pride, and rebellion.  He deepens (or restores) us to a place of loving Him only, as He shows us His mercy, love, pity.  He becomes our husband and best friend.  This is where I am living…

Ezekial 11:18-20 “They will return to me and remove all their vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”  This is where I am living…

Ezekial 36:25-27 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”  This is where I am living…

If you are living a surrendered life to Him and find yourself in a season of “living in the wilderness”, you will experience inner struggle and turmoil.  God is actually wrestling with you to destroy your flesh (its wants, cravings, and desires) so you can be more effective for His glory.  This is a place or season of sacrifice and self-emptying.  Idols in your heart are destroyed, death to your sinful flesh, self-will is crucified, and whole-hearted surrender to God’s will.  This is where I am living…

Marilyn Howshall says “Without a complete surrender of my life, I am without a true salvation.  For faith is dead unless accompanied by true obedience through the fellowship of the cross.  This means I must relate to the cross and so totally identify with the self-denial that it implies, that I will truly be conformed into the image of God’s Son.  Crucified with Christ is not merely an inner spiritual truth, but an actual experience, not only in relation to the world and its temptations and obvious sins, but also in relation to my will, desires, motives, and cravings.”  This is where I am living…

Marilyn Howshall also says “There is a cry going forth into all the land.  Preachers and evangelists alike are proclaiming an urgent message.  As in the days of John the Baptist, the chosen ones are being called to turn to the Lord in repentance and total surrender, in preparation for His 2nd coming.  God is shaking the personal lives of those who love Him and is demanding a greater separation and devotion unto Him so that His church, His bride becomes fit for use in the last great harvest before His return.  God is asking those who love Him and who earnestly seek Him to know Him, to draw away from worldly ways in order to be part of what the Holy Spirit is requiring of this generation.  Shallow Christianity is no longer an option.  God is restoring the power of the Gospel through those (and only through those) who will surrender totally and unconditionally to Him.  It is essential in this hour, for the Body of Christ to learn the mystery of the pure gospel – the gospel that sets us free to live above our circumstances and above sinful temptations, the gospel that takes us and keeps us in the very presence of a holy God with His wonders, power, and glory manifested in our daily lives.”  This is where I am living…

I believe that America has become a modern-day Sodom & Gomorrah.  How can we live in such a declined culture and yet not be of it?  The only way to do so is to live a fasted lifestyle of worship, prayer, and submission so that every time you step into the world, you are clothed with His light, glory, and power that brings healing, deliverance, and repentance.  This is where I am learning to live…

I have often thought this…maybe I need to LIVE in the wilderness permanently and only come out temporarily to do the work He assigns me?  I don’t know if it is possible to live in such a state of concentrated aloneness with Him?  But if it is possible, I need to find a way to do so!  Maybe then I would resemble Song of Solomon 8:5 and 3:6  (paraphrased) “Who is this coming out of the wilderness leaning on her beloved?  Perfumed with the smoke and aroma of worship, prayer, and fasting…smelling like pomegranates, precious fruit, henna, spikenard, saffron, calamus, cinnamon, frankincense, aloe, and myrrh.  It is the Bride of Christ – reflecting His glory!”

This is my heart’s desire…to reflect His glory and image…not just do a bunch of wonderful things in His name.  I am reminded of three messages spoken to the churches of Ephesus, Sardis, and Laodicea in the book of Revelation.  In all honesty, these passages “haunt me” to a certain degree…I don’t want to stand before the Lord someday and have Him speak the same charges against me.  All three churches were great in works and service to the Lord…YET…they had forsaken their first love (Jesus), were lukewarm in their devotion to God, and had a reputation for being alive yet were actually dead.  Maybe they were not as hypocritical as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who honored God with their lips, but whose hearts were far from Him (Isa.29:13, Matt. 15:8, Mark 7:6).  But it is possible that these three churches (like many of us) were not in a place of possessing a “broken heart and a contrite spirit”.

I have learned that this (a broken heart and contrite spirit) is the ONLY sacrifice which God esteems above all others, to have genuine love for God is counted better than all sacrifices or external parts of worship/ministry. Mark 12:33 says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself” – this is more than (more highly esteemed) than ALL offerings and sacrifices!  Isaiah 66:1-2 “The Lord says, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: Where is the house/home (dwelling place) you will build for me? Where will my resting place be (for My presence)? This is the one I esteem (says the Lord): he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.”  This is where I am learning to live…

My eyes have become open to the fact that this is the only sacrifice that truly matters – a broken spirit and a contrite heart.  All the ministry that I can accomplish for Christ, without this one thing, would be meaningless and without eternal value. God is much more interested in what He is doing IN me than what He is doing THROUGH me.  And that if what He is doing THROUGH me, is not ignited by what He is doing IN me, then I am ministering out of my flesh, which amounts to wood, hay, and stubble.  This is where I am living…

So if you were to ask me what I have been doing in the last month or so during my sabbatical, I would say…”Living in the wilderness of solitude with Jesus.”  I have this promise:  “The LORD will guide me always; He will satisfy my needs in a sun-scorched land (desert/wilderness) and will strengthen my frame. I will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isa. 58:11

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