I’ve been in the spiritual wilderness before. I think that most, if not all, of us have. We may refer to it by different names, dark night of the soul, a season of winter, etc., but they all mean generally the same thing. A time of spiritual darkness, confusion, upheaval, distress. But it’s not always earth-shaking. Sometimes the disruption is minimal. We may experience a “down period” where simply leaning a bit more into the Lord is enough to get us through. And other times the disruption to our lives is anything but minimal. A leap of faith and complete surrender to the Lord is required in order to get through. In the natural, it is nearly unbearable to endure, there is no comfort to be found and everything about it is ugly. I am in that type of spiritual wilderness right now. I am learning though that when we walk through such times with God, and not try to do so on our own, it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve had to make major changes in my life that have required complete surrender and trust in the Lord. Something that I had thought I was pretty good at. I’ve realized though that I actually wasn’t. Through hindsight I’ve realized that this has been coming for quite some time, but things really started setting up for this and rolling forward last November. I was embroiled in an extremely unhealthy situation/relationship that affected two major aspects of my life (my job and spiritual life) which, on a subconscious level, I knew that I should’ve gotten out of a while ago. Fear, self-delusion, uncertainty and, yes, a lack of trust in the Lord all prevented me from making a move.
But then things changed without me knowing it. It was no longer a matter of God wanted me to move for my own sake; He required me to move in order for me to fulfill the purpose that He has for my life to help others. And so, He revealed many things to me about the reality of my situation and my own true level of faith. He began urging me to leave both my job and my church in full faith that He would provide for me on both fronts. And then, after a few weeks, He came right out and told me to do so.
You should know some things about me…First of all I am an anxious person. I have been diagnosed with both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and panic disorder. I’ve also experienced the trial of being unemployed and continually job-hunting for a 9 month stretch in the past. On the flip-side of that, I’ve also been miraculously blessed financially by the Lord on more than one occasion. Our fleshly minds don’t remind us of those things when trouble comes though, do they?
Another thing is that the story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water with our Lord is very dear to me. It’s always been close to my heart. And I’ve often said that if I were put in that situation I would get out of the boat without hesitation and walk right to Jesus. Now here I was completely surrounded by a raging storm on all fronts with the Lord calling me out of my boat and to Him….and I was terrified.
The enemy knows exactly what our weaknesses are, what strongholds he has within our lives and what buttons to hit within each of us individually in order to get a quick reaction out of us. And when God moves within our lives he is always quick to follow….when he doesn’t try beating God to the punch that is. That is exactly what he was doing to me. Every day I was almost continually wracked with anxiety and fear. I started having panic attacks again. Then something happened that hasn’t occured for me in quite some time…I began to fall under demonic oppression.
I knew that things were getting too far out of control and I needed to stay as close to the Lord as I possibly could. So that is exactly what I did. He continued to speak with me and reveal things about my situation to help me, but to my dismay He also continually asked me to step out in faith and sacrifice this relationship for Him. I am blessed in that He has surrounded me with amazingly supportive people throughout this too. Then one day He straight up called me out on the situation. In my heart I heard, “You’ve always said that you would get out of the boat and come to Me. I’m calling now. Are you going to trust Me and come?” That was difficult to hear, but it made me realize the truth of how much I was allowing fear to block my faith.
In His kindness, God took care of the issue of finding a new church before I fully made my sacrifice. That was a blessing and encouragement that He knew I needed to truly start healing the spiritual damage that making this sacrifice is going to heal. For that I am deeply grateful to Him. I resolved to get out of that boat and walk head-first into the raging hurricane no matter how much fear the enemy stirred up within me. And stir he did! But I was also constantly being blessed with relevant scripture and teachings for what I was going through.
Actually going in and doing what had been asked of me was probably the most uncomfortable and one the scariest things that I’ve ever done. But just like in Solomon’s case, the Lord had a surprise in store. I sacrificed my job, church and (I had thought) the dear relationship connected to those two things. But amazingly, though the relationship has changed in every way, it was not a required part of the sacrifice. It was not killed and utterly removed. It is damaged and needs lots of healing, but as soon as the sacrifice was made the Lord started healing a large part of it in order to facilitate forgiveness.
I should have known since Jesus is a healer and restorer. However if I would have known that going into this it wouldn’t have been much of a sacrifice on my part. Just as with Solomon, God didn’t really want to sever the relationship; He wanted to know that I intended to trust Him and obey when He asked me to sacrifice it to Him.
Ever since things have been much better. In fact, it was almost 48 hours before I had any sort of anxious or worried thought! (Which I quickly dispelled by quoting scripture aloud.) That is amazing for me! I am still unemployed and waiting for the Lord to open whatever doors He intends for me to walk through in regards to a new job, but I am thriving in my new church and I have never been closer to the Lord. Doors are opening to help with various parts within my new churches ministries – which has been a calling of mine for years!
And, best of all, others can see and have commented on the difference. They are seeing the Lord and His peace when they look at me – even though, in the natural, I should probably be stressing like crazy in my job search. I’m not though. And I can tell you that’s not me; that is the Holy Spirit within me. So (while it’s true that I am still in the spiritual wilderness) I can honestly tell you that if you trust in the Lord, stay close to Him and allow Him to walk you through…the wilderness can actually be a quite beautiful place sometimes.
I will be posting in the future about the details involved in all of this, including the revelations that the Lord has given me regarding the particular sickness that afflicts my previous church.
~ Rebecca Laurasia