“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life,” Proverbs 13:12.
For years, my heart was sick. Worse, I had no idea how to heal it. Promises my husband and I had long hoped for had failed to manifest and I was losing the will to dream.
I was blessed with a mom, who had a teaching gift and dad, a prophetic mantle. Together, they laid a great foundation, but before I reached the age of 30, they were gone. We buried them along with the wise counsel I had once enjoyed.
But my questions were only growing.
As years unfolded and promises were delayed, I grew heartsick. Yet, I found a kindred spirit in David. Psalm 13:172, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
In the book, The Wilderness: Where Miracles are Born, Brian and Candice Simmons write, “Between every promise and the Promised Land of fulfillment, will be a wilderness.”
It was in the wilderness, between my promise and its fulfillment, that I found myself immersed in a battle for my soul; struggling with the disappointment of deferred hope.
It was there that I would learn that disappointment is a necessary crossroad on the journey to our promise. It is a defining moment where we step beyond ourselves and plunge into the arms of our Beloved or fall back into unbelief.
Disappointment is necessary because it exposes the inner Self that refuses to be crucified with Christ, Romans 6.
Brain and Candice Simmons write, “…between you and your Promised Land lies a wilderness of discovery and, at times, disappointment.”
We cannot enter our Promised Land unless we have first received the gift of salvation. Salvation is the birth of a new creation, but only if the old is dead. Redemption is, and always was, God’s promise of a new life.
It is the revelation of this rebirth that inspires us to enter the wilderness. God will never control or manipulate us. He will do nothing to interfere with our will, but He will extend the spark that we can fan into the flame of desire by presenting us with a vision of things to come. “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction,” Proverbs 29:18.
The impartation of vision is God’s way of bringing us into the person we already are in Him. Yet, the promise cannot manifest until Self passes away.
Things hoped for is the Spirit’s way of encouraging us to begin the process of facing every undead, uncrucified thought, will, and desire within.
To embrace hope, Self must be confronted, for Self cannot enter the promise. Therefore, God has provided a wilderness in which Self can be exposed, crucified, and buried.
Brian and Candice Simmons, “Most of us have an attitude that translates the wilderness into ‘something terrible.’ In fact, the Bible teaches that the wilderness is the place where miracles are born, the place where we hear God speak, and the place where He truly reveals Himself to us.”
The wilderness prepares us to face the giants in our promise. Without it, we are merely believers, who hope for something we cannot realize.
It was in my own desert experience that I learned that seasons of disappointment have purpose, but only if we surrender to the inconvenience of the wilderness.
There is a purpose in your promise.
God does not give us a vision of our future to taunt us. Rather, a promise is His way of moving us from our past to our future.
From the beginning, Self has controlled and directed our life, but God sends His promises to break former lies and release future faith.
How, when and where we end will be determined by our response in the wilderness.
God knows how easy it is for us to see the Self in others, but how blind we are to the very same inclinations within our Self.
The purpose of His promise is a new perspective. We cannot step into the future with the lies that shaped our will and formed our past.
The wilderness has a way of exposing the lies of the past, so we can step forward, into God’s perspective.
It is our fears that refuse to leave the comfort of former lies, thereby hindering the process of transformation. Like Moses, the choice to follow the voice of Self can bring our journey to an end on the wrong side of the promise.
The wilderness is the perfect graveyard for Self.
No matter how much we think we know our heart, no one does. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
We are all houses of clay that contain a treasure of inestimable worth.
Christ died for the sin that condemned us, but only we can die to the Self that keeps us from our inheritance.
It is the wilderness that reveals who we are so that we can become who we were created to be.
Only then, can we see the sins that have burrowed into our behavior and develop the character necessary to sustain the promise.
In a backdrop of negative, condemning ritual, God’s promise gave me hope. I longed for its fulfillment, unaware of the important role the wilderness played in my journey. Ultimately, the desert life became my saving grace.
Nothing is more liberating than bringing Self to the cross. Forgiveness opens the door to freedom. Looking through the eyes of Perfect Love, freed me to recognize attitudes and opinions, the wicked, egocentric nuances of Self in me.
In my former, religious state of mind, I pointed the finger at the outward, obvious sin in others, while defending the sin within me. Strife. Defensiveness. Pride. Resentment. Faultfinding attitudes of every sort. Self-pity. Self-righteousness. Self-seeking… I was born-again and full of Self. A walking oxymoron.
Self, kept me oblivious to my own state of being. It was my greatest stronghold and the purpose for my wilderness.
I was unaware that the measure of Christ is not found in living up to rules, but in Love.
And Love cannot bloom where Self exists.
God’s promises are always true.
More than once, we came close enough to touch our promise. We saw the other side. Yet, something kept us from stepping over. It took us years, too many years, but we finally came to realize that something was the undead, uncrucified Self still working within.
Somewhere along the way, we began to yield to the wilderness. It happened when we saw the inexplicable work being done in our soul. In the middle of the fire, God’s promise had embraced us. While Self and all its lies burned away, He kept us from being consumed by the flames.
It was then that I realized that in God’s eyes, the process is greater than the promise.
Brian and Candice Simmons again, “Yet, in the wilderness we find that the surprises of life yield the most beautiful fruit. The supernatural power of God is more often displayed in a wilderness than in a church service. God will use your wilderness to release the virtues of Christ growing within!”
My hope had been in a temporary resolution to my problem, but God’s hope was in the person I was becoming.
Submission to the wilderness process produces the maturity to carry the promise.
Spiritual maturity comes from endurance; enduring the process of purification. Wisdom is the consequence of applied truth; the testimony of those who have been anointed with the oil of His presence.
The word, “anoint” means “to smear” in Hebrew.
“When objects such as wafers and shields were smeared with grease or oil they were said to be anointed; hence the commonly used term was ‘anoint’ when grease or oil was applied to objects…” Biblestudytools.com
It is not the truth we hear, but the truth that has been applied to our lives that sets us free.
Notice this illustration from chaimbentorah.com:
“You get two types of oil from the olive. The first which is the most pure, the finest and, of course, the most expensive is the beaten oil. Actually, the word beaten is not the best rendering. The word in Hebrew is katith, which means, to break into pieces. The first oil to be extracted from the olive does not come from pressing the olives, but breaking, cutting or tearing them into pieces.”
How many times have you felt broken, cut to the heart or torn to shreds?
“Olives spring from a tree and turn a dark green. When they are ripe they turn black and inside the olive are a couple drops of liquid gold as it is called. This is the beaten oil, the purest and finest. This is used for anointing, medicinal purposes and other specific uses. After the liquid is drained from the olive by bruising it, so to speak, it is then crushed or pressed to extract the oil contained in the meat of the olive. This oil is not as pure and is used for cooking and put into lamps for light. However, for the light in the tabernacle the people were instructed to use only the pure, beaten oil. The beaten oil is considered to be the first fruit of the olive and it is this oil that is used to provide the light in the tabernacle.”
God was preparing us to serve as a light in His tabernacle, but Self had to be broken, first. “Broken and spilled out and poured at His feet.” [Bill George and Gloria Gaither]
Hard-learned lessons are often the reward of those who have been around the mountain too many times to count. What would Moses say to us, today, if we could ask him about striking the rock a second time? Sometimes, the greatest leaders are the most broken.
God’s promise is His invitation; His encouragement to step into the wilderness process of spiritual growth and understanding. To be smeared with the oil of His presence. Broken, but not extinguished. Crushed, but releasing a heavenly fragrance.
“Before each young woman was taken to the king's bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments--six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments,” Esther 2:12.
To enter the king’s chambers without enduring the process was an insult to the king. How much more do we insult our King when we pretend to speak for Him without enduring the process of purification? How offensive when we serve in His tabernacle without being smeared with the oil of His presence?
Each girl received the same process, but it was the king who determined on whom it had fully served its purpose. Esther was a picture of the Bride of Christ because she was surrendered to the will of her mentor, who was a picture of the Holy Spirit. Following His voice. Obeying His instructions set her apart and made her beautiful in the eyes of the king.
It is obedience that replaces the Self in us with the fragrance of Christ.
Myrrh was an embalming spice, which speaks of death. Before each woman could enter the king’s presence, she had to die to her own plans and agendas. The strategies, desires, and appetites of Self always fall short of the thoughts and plans God has for us, but unless we die to our ambitions, we cannot step into His.
Myrrh was also known for its healing properties and fragrance. It worked differently on each candidate. In the same way, our wilderness is designed specifically for our brokenness.
The process of purification is individual, intimate, and personal.
It is in our personal desert that we are smeared with His anointing oil. The oil of His presence, heals our past and transforms our perspective. It is then that the fragrance of Christ can rise from every thought, every word, every action and every emotion we share with the world.
Those who have been long in the wilderness, are familiar with this verse. It was my comfort more times than I can count. “Who is this one? Look at her now! She arises out of her desert, clinging to her Beloved,” Song of Songs 8:5.
I longed for the day that I would arise and come out of my wilderness leaning on my Beloved.
There is no shortcut.
To shorten the process and yield to the fear of man, means falling into the hypocrisy of cold love. This is Satan’s counterfeit and the mask of Self. It traps us in the pretense that Love resides where Self rules.
Just as these oils had to be smeared on each woman, so anointed teaching only develops into the maturity of experience when we apply what we have heard.
Applying the knowledge of God to everyday encounters is the evidence we have been changed.
Submission to Christ is proof of an obedient heart. Obedience is the manifestation that we have died to Self-will and risen to His will.
Brian and Candice Simmons, in the book, “The Sacred Journey” write, “The deeper we go into the heart of Jesus, the more we confront our own weaknesses and shameful ways. It seems as though we get worse rather than better.”
Christianity, today, is suffering from the lack of spiritual maturity. Too many refuse to enter their wilderness and die to Self. Instead, we pretend we have been with the King.
Maturity is the fruit of obedience and the qualification for reproduction. It is the proof you have come out of the wilderness, smeared, healed, reborn and leaning.
God does not send us there to kill us, but so that we can see the Self in us, and reckon it dead.
Isaiah 26:3 is a wilderness word. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
Peace is the proof our mind has been smeared with the myrrh of His presence and trust is the only way to receive it.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:7.
Brian and Candice Simmons, “When you have no place to turn and you feel like your progress is slow and your spiritual growth seems even slower, remember the words to the children’s song, ‘My Lord knows the way through the wilderness.’”
“All I have to do is follow.”