The Wilderness Experience

Wendy Pope

Day: 23 | Plan: 1-2 Samuel

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 23

1 Samuel 23:14 (NIV) “David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.”

When God calls us to a special assignment, it is tempting to assume the journey will be smooth and trouble free. Why would God call us to something then make the path full of twists, turns and trouble? As David found himself hiding in the wilderness, I wonder if he had the same thought. Israel’s future king had been on the run since his move to the palace. Certainly not where he thought he would be.

I’ve experienced times like these, times when I was confident and obedient in God’s instructions yet found myself in a wilderness period. My first place of ministry was sitting at a desk in a gray cubicle at Proverbs 31 Ministries coding bills and writing thank-you notes, far from a podium teaching God’s Word, which is where I thought I would be. My wilderness experience left me asking, Did I hear God correctly? Why am I here rather than speaking and teaching? Where are you, God? Did You change Your mind?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself similar questions. It’s not always as easy to see God in the structure of our daily life. However, we can confidently endure our wilderness experience because God is always with us. His name is Emanuel, God with us. Just as He was with David, we can trust that He is with us.

  • God is in control, even when life seems out of control. Saul and his armies hunted David day and night. Their intel was reliable, and if God wanted David to be found and captured, you can believe it would have happened: “… but God did not give David into his hands” (1 Samuel 23:14). 
  • God cares for us, even if we are far from our intended place. Exhausted and no doubt bewildered, God sent encouragement and confirmation to David via Jonathan, Saul’s son. “‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this’” (1 Samuel 23:17).
  • God is always moving us toward our assignment, even if the way seems unlikely. David didn’t count on years of being on the run. Like David, we can trust God to be at work even in the moving and waiting. “And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi” (1 Samuel 23:29).

David demonstrated a life of trust that is worthy to emulate. Those days sitting at the desk in the Proverbs 31 office were all part of God’s plan in preparing me for a life of surrender. The twists, turns and trouble were opportunities for me to learn to trust God and surrender my plan for how my speaking ministry would begin. In the wilderness, we learn to trust Him and when we learn to trust Him we see Him more clearly.

Prayer: Lord, I confess the waiting and the stay in the wilderness places aren’t easy. Forgive me for being impatient and perhaps even disrespectful to You. I want to follow You with confident obedience. Even if the journey takes me to places that seem far from the place You called me, I know I can trust You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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