What do you think of when you hear the word “wilderness”? I’ve lived my entire life in three different states in the Pacific NW. When I think of “wilderness” I think of tall fir and pine trees, shade, moderate to cold temperatures, raging rivers, cool creeks, mountains, steep canyons, and deep valleys.
Matthew 4:1-11 tells us Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Physically he was alone and Satan was tempting him. But the wilderness where Jesus spent this time was not the wilderness that I know. Verse 5 tells us that the devil took Him into the Holy City.
The wilderness around Jerusalem looks much like this. No tall trees providing shade. No cool creeks to quench his thirst and wash the dry dust from his hot and dirty body. Jesus fasted here for 40 days.
No followers or disciples with him. And yet, God was with him.
The Longing to Be Known
Have you ever had a wilderness experience? Not a time of backpacking through a lush wilderness with friends and family, but a dry and lonely experience like the 40 days Christ experienced.
I spent many years alone, lonely and longing. And no joke, I am literally sitting in a dark, Costco parking lot – alone- typing this. (Don’t worry mom. There are lots of people around and I’m safe.)
From Kindergarten to my senior year I lived in a small school district. I had the same 120 kids in my class for 13 years. I went away to college when I was 18 and quickly came to a rude realization that I had no idea how to make friends. Not only was I an introvert, I was an incredibly shy introvert.
I was alone and lonely.
Desperate for someone to know me.
I survived college, moved to a large city and earned my dream job. I loved work. I often worked extra shifts because at home in my dark, basement apartment I was alone and lonely.
Deep down each of us has a longing to not be alone or lonely and to be known. We are all created with a desire to be fully known.
The Cracks in the Clay
Unfortunately, in this fallen world, it is not possible for us to fully know one another. My friends and family know many things about me. They know I crave good, dark chocolate. They know I’m in bed by 9 pm.
They know that when I say, “I’m Done with a capital D” that they all should run and put themselves to bed. They know the word “deserve” grates on my nerves and should probably never be used unless you’re talking about punishment. But because my Creator created me, and each of us, in such a complex way, we can never be fully known by any other than Him.
Much like the Potter and the clay. I can look at a pot and tell you many things about it. It’s color, shape, size and if it will hold water. But I can’t truly know it. I can’t know the places that were deformed and had to be redone. I can’t know the cracks that the potter re-wetted and sealed up. Only the Potter truly knows because He is the Creator.
During my wilderness of loneliness, I begged God for a companion. I pleaded for a boyfriend who would become my spouse. But the Lord was waiting and I’m thankful He didn’t give me the desires of my heart quickly.
God wanted me to discover that only He could complete me. Only He could fully know me.
Let’s look again at Matthew 4 verse 1. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Our Lord is sovereign.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the wilderness because we led ourselves there. Other times God puts us there. It wasn’t until a late night of crying tears of loneliness and desperation (seven years after heading off to college – seven years of desperate loneliness) that I finally cried out to Him and said, “Lord, if it is only You and me for the rest of my life, I’m ok with that. I trust You. If I never get married, my faith is in You, my Rock and my Shield.”
I had said those words before, but this time was different. This time I spoke them in full understanding, and complete faith and trust in my Creator. The One who designed me and made me. The One who is sovereign over all things.
The God Who Completely Knows Us
It wasn’t long after that the Lord brought me my husband. But that surrender remains so important even today after being married for 17 years. My marriage can still be lonely. I have even told people “being married and lonely is worse than being single and lonely.” When you’re single and lonely, there is no one there for you. But when you’re married, that person is physically so close, and yet the loneliness and longing to be known are still so real.
My husband, in his humanity, is not capable of fully knowing me. When I look at my husband to complete me I’m going to be let down. Only the Lord can complete me. So even today, when I fall into wilderness times of loneliness while being surrounded by friends and family, I have to turn back to the words I spoke to the Lord.
“Lord, if it’s only you and me for the rest of my life, I’m ok with that. I trust You. My faith is in You my Rock and my Shield.”
The lyrics to one of my favorite songs are:
“All of You is more than enough for all of me.”
Do you believe that? Can you cling to that? Whatever your wilderness experience looks like, whether you’re lonely, tired and weary, hurt, desperate or abandoned, is He alone enough for you?
About the Author
Lee Ann DeRoos – Arise Ministries Collective Treasurer: I’m a simple girl. I love jeans and sweatshirts, decaf coffee and dark chocolate. I am a servant. Learner. Worshiper. Gluten-free baker. Hobby Farmer.
I am a wife, mom of two, and daughter of the King, always striving to get out from under my bushel to let His light shine.
I love the person LeeAnn that I know. Maybe not ‘fully know’ but know the Christ follower, the person who prays continually for myself and others. The woman who gives of herself unconditionally-thank you for your words for us to resonate .
Arise Ministries Collective Team says
Thank you for this, Betsy. Amen and amen to all of those things. She truly is a woman who prays continually and gives of herself unconditionally. We’re blessed to “know” these things about her, too :).