Answering The Call: Part 4- Returning to Civilization
As discussed in Parts 1-3 of this study, the Wilderness is not about a location.
It is not about “leaving” a fellowship or group or way of doing things. It is not a lifestyle change. The wilderness experience is about the process of shedding the dead man and living in, through, by, and with the Lord Jesus Christ. Every moment of every day. This is not “works” or earning His love. We already have all of His affection.
It is an invitation to live with His Kingdom in us as the greater reality than this physical realm around us.
This is accomplished mainly through trials. Trials expose the areas in which our soul is living apart from our Dad’s heart. Trials expose the lies that hold us bound to the god of this world. The Great Reconciliation does not stop at the cross. It begins there. He wants all of our being.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live…” Gal 2:20
For those who have allowed themselves to shed the pride of self-reliance, and have transitioned to leaning into the Lord for all things, the wilderness has done its job. The Wilderness was a trail of tears, sorrow, loss, anguish and fear. Those who walked that journey learned to drop to their knees and praise God for the slightest breeze and the tiniest cup of cool water. Like Jonah, a leafy plant was our closest, dearest comfort, and we prayed each moment it would not wither.
Herein lies the greatest of all the dangers of the Desert Wilderness. It is not the rejection. It is not the pain…or suffering.
The danger is in choosing not to be alive to Christ.
It is during this season of surrender, that one must decide not only to die to the old man… but to then live…IN Jesus. It is not enough to die. We must finish the transition. We must pick up Christ.
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Rom 6:11
“ alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
We are only relationally alive to the Lord in the areas we are worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth. Any area in which we are not living in alignment with His word, is an area in which we are sowing to the carnal man. We sow to death in these areas. (Gal 6:8)
The most subtle of all the carnal-minded deceptions is the false-humility that is produced when we fail to embrace His nature inside us.
If we are willing to be crushed and broken out there in the Desert in regard to our former way of thinking, we must not fall short of embracing the reality of the Righteousness that Christ gave us.
Please hear me my dearest most precious Family…
Pride is to find worth apart from God. It is that simple. Pride is not our actions. It is our thinking. We do not get to pick and choose which areas we will walk in agreement with His Word.
If we confess the truth that we have no value in ourselves…but then refuse to acknowledge that the cross made us fully valuable- in HIM…we are still in pride. This form is much more subtle and much more difficult to shed.
If we fail to do this, we have substituted one false belief system for another.
The vast majority of the Christians I have met that have allowed the Desert to break their outward pride, never pick up the Righteousness of Christ as their new true identity. When this occurs, pride in our own worthiness gets replaced with taking pride in our unworthiness.
“It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Cor 1:30
“For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10
One of the most tragic losses the Kingdom of God experiences comes in the form of a child of God who didn’t finish the renewing of their mind. After all the crushing of the Desert, we can begin to find comfort in our pain and loss. Little by little, insidiously, we may swap out His love as our comfort in exchange for our own pain and unworthiness as our comfort. This, like all things that are erected in His place…is a form of idolatry.
Pain and loss often becomes comforts that replace His love for us.
Many often erroneously refer to this death as the death of “self.” The reality is, our new self is in constant union with the Kingdom. It is the “old” man/self that died. This is vital if we are going to walk in the Kingdom mindset. We must embrace who we truly are.
“and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Col 3:10
It is a constant process of thinking more and more in line with the written Word of God. This allows us to enter into greater and greater intimacy with the Living Word of God. To do this is a decision. It is not about perfection in our actions, but rather a decision of the will. We chose to pick up His life…so that through intimacy, we may more and more be transformed into His likeness.
We simply cannot do this where we choose to contend with His Word about ourselves. I implore you, consider your thinking and see where it lines up in regard to what the scriptures state about the condition of the unsaved, the Old Covenant believers, and the New Covenant Believers. To which group are we aligning our belief system with? What are we confessing? What are we believing?
We live reconciled to God through what the Cross accomplished. What was accomplished was us being given His Positional Righteousness. Many of us would rather cling to our own rags. It is just often a greater comfort during the transitional period where we are meant to more fully engage the reality of His love. We stop short. We self-soothe.
Unless we pick up His righteousness as the final matter on our self-worth, we will grasp a “self-righteousness” that is based on our own sense of unworthiness. What the Desert meant to shed is then merely replaced. If we are focused on our unworthiness more than we are focused on Him, we need to repent. If, when we meditate on His love for us and our natural response is feeling unworthy, we need to repent.
We often focus on our actions. But…we can live as unrighteous children of God in our thinking just as much as in our conduct. One of the greatest litmus tests to see where we need mending in our souls is to examine the degree of love we have for strangers. Where is our overflow? How much do we truly long to share the love we feel from our Savior with those around us?
“For Christ’s love compels us,” 2 Cor 5:14
What degree of His love is flowing out of us? Please hear Father’s heart here. Again, this is not about “works” to prove our salvation or our devotion. We Christians have beaten that dead horse… uh… to death. This is about examining the true condition of our soul and how much we have allowed the Holy Spirit to penetrate and heal our deepest, darkest pains.
If we are more focused on the incompleteness of our transformation…or our unworthiness…or how we need to “die”… we misplace our vision. Our vision is on Christ. Christ alone. As we behold Him, we are invited to experience His unconditional love. This is part of the Wilderness journey. When we experience His love though, we have a choice: embrace it according to our own unworthiness, or embrace it according to His gift of Righteousness.
We must shed the grave clothes.
A sign of having adopted a false-righteousness is a lack of love for others. We love to the degree we know He loves us.
At this point if one feels blamed, condemned, defensive…it is a sign we have not embraced His unconditional righteousness as the full expression of our self-worth. There IS nothing else.
He loves you.
That is a gift that is received in greater and greater joy as we behold Him. We refuse the depths of His embrace when we refuse to acknowledge the full manifestation of His love. Righteousness is what has restored us to intimacy. It is righteousness that gives us salvation. His nature clothing us by the shed blood of His Son…this is love. We enter into deeper union as we embrace this more and more. This takes courage. Any area we have found comfort or self soothing apart from His presence and truth is a scary thing to give up.
I will tell you this though:
It burns the most exquisite colors on the altar of our sacrifices. Such beautiful aromas too…
We say we love Him. Are we really, truly willing to enter into His fullest rest and deepest embrace? Dare to give up the comforts that have helped us survive the season of the Desert Wasteland of breaking and suffering. Too many. Too many of my family have I met that have gone out there…too many of those remnant that dared to forsake the world and lightly esteem the ridicule that comes in all forms… are dying there. I am meeting them more than ever.
It is the season of the “Great Return” as I call it. The time when His hidden ones are coming forth. But so few are leaving the desert. So many have become “institutionalized.”
The wilderness killed the old man, and darn near almost took your physical life. I get it. I have been out there…for many…many years.
But it is time, Father is saying. It is time to embrace the rest of Him. Time to let His Spirit lead you into the green pastures of the Kingdom. The death you experienced is meant to end in Joy and Life and Fullness. Don’t stay out there any longer. Half dead…half alive.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” Hos 11:1
You are His child. His redeemed. His rescued lamb. It is time to leave the blast-furnace. Enter ALL of His rest. You have been faithful. You have counted the cost. You have died.
Now…it is time…
“Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep,
we should live together with Him.” 1 Thess 5:10