The story of the wilderness experience is something we rarely talk about but I believe this needs to change. The season between the commission and the release of the ministry of the Lord was simply called the wilderness.
Today, I am concerned that many people, called by God, actually do not understand the importance of the wilderness and what is means for them in the spirit. I have never seen someone who can burn for decades that did not have at least one wilderness experience.
Like many of us, I was raised Classic Pentecostal and ended up in the Charismatic and prophetic movements. Sadly, there is little to no theology for suffering or struggle in these movements. We believe the preparation for a ministry is “paying our dues” for a bigger ministry. This can be part of it but the scripture paint a different picture.
I had my own “dark night of the soul” experience as St. John of the Cross would call it. I saw everything come to a stop. Miracles were few and far between. I battled depression. I thought God was done with me. I have made too mistakes to be used anymore. Sadly, it was just the forty days for me, either. It was close to six years.
Wilderness comes after Commission
One of the things that many do not understand about the the call of God is that it leads us into the wilderness of testing. It is rarely that someone is called to preach and they are in the stadiums healing the sick next week. Most of those ministries don’t last for the decades. People called to ministry need this wilderness encounter.
John the Baptist is one of my heroes in the scriptures. I use to want to preach just like him. (Bad move) He was preaching his hellfire and brimstone messages when the Lord came to baptized and the most importance example of a commissioning took place.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”Luke 3:21-22
When I was called to preach, I had a pretty profound interaction with the Holy Spirit that included angelic activity but I did not get the external aubile voice of the Father. In fact, I don’t anyone besides Jesus that got it.
What is more important about this passage is something that God speak over ALL his children: You are My son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. God’s heart over the believe is one of love and pleasure. Even in our weakness and brokenness, we are loved and a pleasure to the Father.
Most people need, I know I do, the revelation that we are loved by God no matter what. It does not matter what we have done or where we have been: we are loved by God.
Wilderness will come!
I have heard people call this preparation, transition, testing and other things but the Word just called it the wilderness. Directly after the commission was this season of testing in the wilderness.
You would think after Jesus was commissioned confirmed by signs and wonders such as the dove and the voice of the Father breaking through; the next thing we would see is him breaking up a funeral to raise the dead. If not that, surely he is having a mass healing meetings at the pool. The truth is do not read anything like that. What do we do see is He was led in the wilderness.
Why does this matter? It is actually the leading of the Holy Spirit to put you through the hell you are going to encounter to launch you into the nations with Holy Ghost power and authority. Even when you are going through hell, the Spirit of God is there leading you.
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.Psalms 139:8 (KJV)
It is critical to someone called to preach they know the Holy Spirit has not left them or forsake them when the hell of wilderness comes. Just remember, when the test is being taken that the teacher is silent and watching. The Spirit is not distant but He might be very quiet.
This is where the conviction of the call becomes important. Do you really believe that the Lord called to be in ministry or not. A lot of people start doubting the commission when the Spirit takes them into testings and seem to be silent.
In my case, the real testing came several years after the call of God was given in 1998. From December 1, 2000 to December 2001 was the worst year of my life. Anything that could go wrong did. Every promise I had from God seem to be ripped to pieces. However, this was just the first of several wilderness seasons for me.
Even when my life was falling apart in 2001 and everyone seemed to be against me; I did not question the calling of the Lord on my life one time. I was called by popular opinion; I was called based on the opinion of God. I knew I was anointed to preach the gospel and be a prophetic voice.
The reason this matters is if we are confident in the call of God on our lives within ourselves; we will never make it when the haters and critics attack us. It won’t matter what they say about us if we are convicted that the mantle is upon us.
Are you called by the Lord to ministry? If you are, you must move back the commission and have the conviction of the Holy Spirit that you know that you know that the Holy Spirit is going to use you in revival.
Embrace the Wilderness
After a short trip down memory lane telling the family tree of Jesus, we read that the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Yes, the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the devil.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.Luke 4:1-2
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, commissioned and convicted of His calling as the Son of God but there has to be a tempting and testing. It was needed for Him to walk in the power for the long haul. If Jesus needed it, we will have to have it without question.
Could someone that knew God had called him and received the literal endorsement of the Father in Heaven have to experience such trails as being face to face with the devil? I am not quite sure but I think showing us it can be done might be part of it.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”Luke 4:3
Did you notice something in the language of the enemy here? Jesus was told “if you are the Son of God….” The devil was basically just telling Jesus what the Father had said about Him but twisted it into an attack of the character of the calling.
The challenge made sense. Jesus was probably very hungry and having some bread would have been nice. The devil will always plant ideas that sound good to the carnality of the man in his attacks on our nature. Every time.
The attack was “If you are who God says you are, prove it!” The enemy is always trying to haunt the man of God with mockery of the calling. They said, “If God has anointed you, why aren’t you emptying out the hospitals?” It is the same threat from hell that Jesus faced here. It was telling Him that the Father must NOT have anointed him to be in this trail!
Like Jesus, we will face the attack on our identity as called of God. It might not be to turn stones to bread or even water to wine but the attacks will come nevertheless. For most, it will be reminders of all the reasons that we can’t be used as a man (or woman) of God. Hell’s cheerleaders will be quick to remind us about our shortcoming and failures.
I dealt with this directly. I had people getting in line to tell me how I could not be used by God anymore in 2001. It was a long list where I had people telling me I was everything from a false prophet to being told I was not even saved. All of hell had came at my identity as an evangelist and man called to preach.
I came out of that first wilderness wounded, hurt but convicted more than ever that I who God said I was, not what church men had to say.
Many trials will come
One thing that we often miss in the wilderness was there was three different times He came face to face with the devil. It was not once. He did not get to the just say, “It is over, now.” Multiple trials!
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.Luke 4:13
However, what is interested to me is the word “until an opportune time.” The wilderness might not (for most is not) just a one time series of testing. It is something they must endure in different seasons of their lives. Many people have multiples seasons of wilderness. For Jesus, it was at least twice (the other is the garden)
The enemy is looking for any opportune time he can find to try and destroy the identity of the anointed man of God. It will happen more than once for most. The reason we have so many preachers fail in ministry is they do not understand the devil is only leaving “until the opportune time.”
I know of a prophet that had at least three of them in his life. He went through the first one in his 20’s just before he launching into a dramatic healing ministry. The second one came later and lasted 25 years. The final one was in his 70’s and lasted over a decade. God used him one final time to blow the trumpet before passing away.
I can count at least three different years in my life that was complete wilderness times. The first one was 2001 and was the most serious of them all. The second one came in 2007 where people were questioning my calling from every corner. The most recent year was 2017 that was attack after attack.
Each of these seasons of attacking from hell looked very differently and they all hurt badly. It was not the robbing of promises like 2001 was when I was attacked in 2017. The last season of wilderness was very different than the one a decade before. However, trials are trials no matter they manifest themselves.
We know this from the life of Jesus as well. The wilderness in Luke 4 looked very different than the trails in the garden. Both were similar in scope but had very different environments. One of them was to destroy his ministry, the other was to destroy his mission.
It was not just Jesus that saw this in the New Testament, either. The book of Acts is full of people who had multiples trials that questioned their identity. Paul had to prove he was even a believer a few times and many questioned his ability to be an Apostle. Peter did not do much better.
If Jesus, Paul, Peter, John and about every major leader in history has faced multiple seasons of the wilderness; you can expect them as well. I know I have had more than I ever wanted.
Moving from Prophecy to Fulfillment
I was in Barndall, Oklahoma in 2001 (in the midst of that year from hell) that the Holy Spirit gave me what I call the Destiny revelation. We have to get the vision, the faith for it, the patience to see it through and then we get the fulfillment.
We are moving from prophecy to prophecy to fulfillment to fulfillment in this time. It is not enough to believe the prophecies spoken over our lives. We need to see them actually happen. We are moving from the patience phase into getting the fulfillment!
This is the story of Jesus after this season of facing the devil as well.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.Luke 4:14-15
He went into the experience led by the Holy Spirit to face the devil but He came out of it in the power of the Spirit to bring the Kingdom to the masses. It was the times he had his identity questioned that empowered him for service.
Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth, stood up quoted Isaiah 61 and proclaimed it as the Messiah prophecy of Himself. Talk about boldness. He came right out of all of hell coming at him to proclaiming He was the Messiah spoken about in the days of Isaiah.
The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”Luke 4:20-21
What does this mean for people that have been called by the Spirit to ministry but went through their own trials? It mean we are going to start to see the fulfillment of the commission and the prophecies as we come out of the wilderness! It is time for fulfillment!
Fulfillment of power to heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead and preach the gospel with authority is going to happen in the season right after your season of trial. This is the season we are in.
The bottom line is there is a lot of people right now moving from the trial to the fulfillment of the prophecies over their lives. It is going to upset the planet and it is going to turn the world right side up.
I do not know what this will look for everyone but I know in the last two months, I have seen more things spoken over me two decades ago happened than any other time. It was not easy as nothing really happened for over six years but when it rains, it pours in the Spirit. Nearly every promise that was taken from me in 2001 is now being restored and fulfilled!
We could be close to see a release of revivalists en masse across America leaving the wilderness. I do not know if Stadium Christianity is around the corner or not. It does seem there is a something happening on a large scale.
Keep your lamp lit, oil burning, watch and waiting for the Bridegroom but let’s go to the enemy’s camp and take back what He stole from us in the trials.