Desolate places. Perfection of faith. Purification of desires. Indeed, God’s desire is to use the wilderness to grow us into the image of Christ, to prepare us for the next phase of our calling, to make us more usable for His purposes.
But there’s another element to a wilderness journey that is almost always overlooked! Oneness. No, I’m not speaking about the unity of the Church—although that’s certainly important. God’s desire is to be as one with us. If you stop to think about it, this truly is an incredible concept!
After Noah spent almost 100 years building the ark and another year living in it, God established a covenant with man. Abraham’s long wilderness experience culminated in a covenant relationship with his Creator. When Israel came to the end of their journey through the wilderness, God initiated a covenant with His people. Before the much anticipated fulfillment of His promises, God does something greater. He makes us one with Himself. Mindboggling!
A covenant is a sacred and binding agreement that brings two individuals or groups into a state of relational oneness. Under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit Himself enters a person’s heart, mystically fuses with his/her spirit and enables them to share His eternal life. You can’t get any closer than that—not even through the intimacy of marriage!
Legally, Christians are now as one with God, but for some reason we don’t always live out the unity of our faith. Just as a married couple can be one in the eyes of God and man, some effort is required for them to be of one heart.
God, for His part isn’t going to change. Perfection can’t be improved upon. For us to be of one heart with God, we need to conform to His heart and His desires. Do you see it? Unbelief dies in the wilderness, and faith is perfected in order to bring us into a greater place of intimacy with our Lord and Lover. Purified desires are needed so that our hearts beat as His. It’s all about oneness—an intimacy that God desires and that we desperately need. Nothing short of it will ever satisfy our hearts, try though we will to fill our lives with everything imaginable.
In a very real sense this world is a wilderness—a desolate, spiritually barren land. God so desires to use the challenges of this life to draw us near in relational oneness with Him. The greatest promise of Scripture is not for guidance, provision, healing or eternal bliss—although they are all important. The greatest promise of Scripture is what Paul called the blessing of Abraham—the promise of His presence.
Here’s the kicker. When we continually lament and complain about our negative circumstances, so often we are making light of the importance of His presence. Our actions and words speak as though everything else matters a great deal, while God Himself means little to us. (Remember Israel’s grumbling in the wilderness?)
How amazing to know that more than anything else, the One who created the universe wants to be as one with His human children! If we will get on board with His ultimate desire, more than anything else we will cherish the opportunity to be as one with Him!