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A Way in the Wilderness

by Chip Brogden
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness… and Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Lk 4:1, 14).
The Cross does not eliminate weakness, it brings strength out of weakness. With less of me there is more of the Lord. So these wilderness experiences are designed to teach us something about weakness.

When you are weak, when you have no strength, then Christ is revealed. You become conscious of a supernatural strength rising up from within. If you’re fasting you’re still hungry. The hunger doesn’t magically go away. If you’ve got a thorn in the flesh God doesn’t wave His magic wand and just take it away. What does He say? “I’ll not take the thorn away, but I will give you more grace, and you will learn by experience that My grace is sufficient.”

See, you don’t learn the sufficiency of Grace until you have experienced the insufficiency of Self. The sooner you give up the better. I go back to my original statement: we spend too much time crying and praying and asking God to take us out of whatever we’re in, and the thing we’re trying to get out of is the very thing God intends to use to teach you something of Himself. You say, “That’s a hard way to learn!” Well, who said it would be easy?

The only people who say it will be easy are the ones who have never walked in the wilderness before. They sound like they have great faith, but that faith has never been tested. They have no depth of experience. They haven’t walked with God through the valley of the shadow of death. They’re doing everything they can to walk around it, and they think that’s faith. They think victory means elimination of problems. Actually, victory means living independently of your circumstances. I still have the thorns, I still have the weaknesses, I still have the problems. My wife and I have been through enough to fill up three lifetimes. Now I’m doing what Paul did: I’m boasting in my weaknesses. I won’t bore you with all the details of all the things we’ve endured, I don’t want to make this teaching all about me. I’m saying this to encourage you.

The Wilderness Walk

What is your heart’s desire? Is it to know God? To walk with Him? To grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? Then let me tell you something: the depth of your revelation can be measured by the depth of your suffering. Little suffering means little revelation. Much suffering means much revelation.

You don’t become intimate with God by studying books, reading books, or listening to other people teach. Enoch walked with God. Abraham walked with God. David walked with God. Paul walked with God. They were on a journey together. They were walking it out, and working it out, together. It was a marriage, no question about it. If I want a relationship with my wife I don’t go around and interview all her friends and relatives and ask them to tell me about my wife. I don’t type her name into Google and see what comes up. If I want a relationship with my wife it takes more than a marriage certificate! It takes more than a wedding ceremony! That might be enough to satisfy the legal requirements of marriage, but if that’s as far as you go then it won’t last. I think that’s the problem with some people in their spiritual walk. They fulfilled all the “legal” requirements of “getting saved”, they had a ceremony, and they hung their marriage certificate on the wall and said, “Well, I can cross that off my list, now I’m saved.” Well, that should be the beginning of the relationship, not the end of it.

I’m just speaking plainly. It’s time to go on to maturity. Let’s get serious about our spiritual life. I tell you, when you experience some pain or weakness or sickness in your body, you get concerned. You seek relief. You seek medical attention. You seek the prayers of the saints. You seek healing and deliverance. If we were as concerned for our spiritual life as we are for our physical life, we would know God.

Or look at your financial situation. If you can’t make ends meet, or you lose your job, or something unexpected comes up that you don’t have the money to pay for, you get concerned. You pray. You ask for help. You do whatever it takes to get out from under that financial difficulty. If we were as concerned for our spiritual situation as we are for our financial situation, then we would know God. Oh, there’s no question about it. Absolutely. And often God can’t get our attention unless He permits, unless He allows, something to happen to us in our body or in our finances. Sometimes it takes something drastic to get us to pay attention to our spiritual life.

“Led By the Spirit… Into the Wilderness!”

Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, to be tested. Now that’s one purpose of the desert; that’s one reason why God leads us into the wilderness. We want to cover up our weakness, and God wants to expose our weakness. Hypocrites want to hide their true condition and make themselves appear to be better than they really are. They get so good at hiding their true condition that they actually begin to believe they are better than they really are. Then they start trying to fix everybody else: pointing out their weaknesses and shortcomings. Well, they just haven’t spent any time in the desert. They’ve never been confronted with their weaknesses. They don’t know what hunger is. They don’t know what thirst is. They don’t know what isolation is. They don’t know what it is to be stripped down to nothing. They’ve never been broken, never been humbled, never taken up the Cross, never died to anything. So they’ve got plenty of time on their hands, and they spend their time looking for specks in other people’s eyes while ignoring the log in their own.
I’m telling you, the Narrow Path that leads to Life takes you through the Spiritual Desert. If you haven’t experienced it yet then you will if you stay on the Path. People are still looking for a way around it, a way over it, a way under it, but God’s Way is through it. A lot of people turn back! They say, “Let’s go back to Egypt. It’s hot out here, it’s dry, it’s lonely. Oh, I need fellowship. Oh, I need something for the kids. I need teaching.” And pretty soon they go right back into a place that they said not too long ago God had called them out of. They were led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, but before that Spirit can teach them anything they’re trying to get out of there.

In the wilderness you don’t follow your feelings. It says the children of Israel were led by a column of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the cloud moved, then they moved. When the cloud stayed still then they stayed still. I mean, it’s really as simple as that. Walk in the Spirit. If you begin to be led by your feelings then you’ll make the wrong decision every time. Most of the time, the right decision doesn’t feel good. Doing the right thing is usually difficult. The easiest thing to do is to quit, to give up, to go back to Egypt. But I’m telling you: get to a place where going back is no longer an option; then going back is no longer a temptation.

This article is based on an audio series titled The Spiritual Desert: How God’s Purposes Are Fulfilled In Your Wilderness Experiences.

16 Comments

  1. John

    Hi Chip,
    I wanna appreciate your message today. And give thank to the King of kings and Lord of lords for such message.
    To be sincere, it’s not easy to die and all God want to do in me is for ”ME” die. I was thinking before that He may love to reform me but about three days ago, He told me that “He want to kill Me, so that Christ may be form in Me”. All I want to say, is this, It’s not easy to Die. Thanks for your message and God bless you.
    John.

    Reply
    • Néo

      Hi John.
      First : For sure, it’s not easy. According to God, it’s not our job to kill ourselves (Romans 14:7). It’s Jesus in us who has the power to condamn the old man. God established Jesus to do this in us(Jeremiah 1:5). Our role is to accept God’s sentance, to let down our life and let Him do it.
      Second : The life of Jesus is already in us (John 3:16). The power of resurrection got in us every time we are called to give our life if we reiceve him (John 1:12).
      Daily cross is an exchange lifes spiritual meeting where we come in the mount with Isaac and get the lamb already given.

      Reply
    • Kern

      What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul? Just let go. Nothing else matters really.

      Reply
  2. Stephen

    Sir

    Thirty years of heartache for two people found reason when I read your Walk in the Wilderness. Thank you, circumstances made the timing nothing short of completely miraculous. I covet your prayers, especially for my dearly loved and hurting childhood friend.

    Stephen

    Reply
  3. Roger Souden

    Thankyou Chip for your teaching/testimony – I can only say that after some 20 years of “wilderness”, my wife and I no longer see ‘going back’ as an option. I dont know at what point in time, we actually saw that, but now we KNOW..!
    We see that at this point, the relationship and fellowship that we have with Jesus Christ, the truths that we have learnt through Him, the people that God has introduced us to (also going through their wilderness)and the confidence and faith that we now have in and through God make it impossible to return to the shallow, spiritual life that we thought so wonderful before. …and we KNOW that there is more, we are learning that even with all we have learnt and experienced it is as nothing in comparison to what is before us.
    I pray that followers of Jesus will not be discouraged at the hardships and sufferings that they go through – they are but molehills when seen from the other side and are the means that God uses to mould and shape us to His will, for our good. …and, as you taught from Eph. 5 Chip, we need to choose to submit willingly to follow this path. Dont misunderstand me, we fought and struggled, moaned and groaned, but eventually we saw that we needed to agree and choose to submit to Gods leading, and we wanted to, we KNEW that this was and is the right way, the only way.

    Reply
  4. Glenda Wolverton

    I posted this in my notes on my Face Book. I added your name and web site. I am praying my friends will read this.
    Glenda

    Reply
  5. aline

    thanks you chip i try to learn english because i want to read
    all you messages thank you very much.

    Reply
  6. Tesfaye Tilahun(Ethiopia)

    dear Chip,

    my wife used to serve as a choir in full gospel church and is has been very difficult for her to find herself out of the organized religion. i lost appetite for the the church sysytem before three or four years a go but it was only after i read your message about organized religion two years a go and i decided to cut things there. I and my wife has just began to enter into the wilderness and it is really crucial to stay here as long as the Lord required us to be here. i am employed and working in a protestant christian organization and i see sometimes people looking happy but with deep internal desperation. i understood that the difference between me and them is that they see there are problems in a church system and i see it is totally snare and dangerous for any one who truly seeks the Lord. for me your messages are always eye opening and i would like to say that the Lord Jesus would continue to increase and abound in your life than ever.

    your brother

    Reply
  7. Marla Wierzel

    I love this teaching and please don’t take this the wrong way, but the only time you really understand this teaching is after you have already been thru it yourself.

    Your sister in Him,
    Marla

    Reply
  8. Valerie

    Excellent writing. The Lord used some of these words to guide while in a very difficult wilderness season in the workplace this week. My knee-jerk, natural reaction is to run! As was written “He calls them to the desert, and they resist it, or they go and immediately look for a way out.” I was practically kicking and screaming- I wanted out- now!

    Spiritual, emotional, and relational victory came today as I read: we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:4.

    How many times I’ve read those Words, and they were never as timely and real to me as today. Today these Words became mine!

    I greatly appreciate the wisdom you shared as being part of that process.

    Reply
  9. Elizabeth

    AWESOME WORD THAT ONLY THE LORD, THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT COULD LEAD ONE TO TEACH!!

    Reply
  10. Steve H

    Oh the truth! Thank you Chip…

    Reply
  11. Nancy E. Williams

    Great wisdom!

    Reply
  12. Wilma Korthuis

    I am glad I read your article.

    Reply
  13. jeff

    “You don’t learn the sufficiency of grace until you have the experience the insufficiency of self”.What a powerful fact!It is amazing how many of us think we have reached the insufficiency of self by the circumstances we face,only to have the lord reveal to us there is so much sufficiency of self we are leaning on still and trusting in.That is why i feel we need what ever trial/tribulation/testing the Lord allows in our lives.How we are responsible for our own tribulation in our lives because of sewing and reaping to sin,attacks by the devil is something we also need to consider.

    Reply
  14. Rose

    “You don’t learn the sufficiency of Grace until you have experienced the insufficiency of self”
    Deep and thoughtful. My prayer daily is to come to the end of myself and let Christ take preeminence.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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