In my church, when we talk about serious things we say, “This is for grown folks.”  Right now, I want to talk to grown folks.  Many of us are going through tough times.  I know folks who are losing jobs and homes.  People are finding themselves in a wilderness and they’re beginning to despair.  They wonder where God is.
When you experience times like these, you’re in more danger than you know.  How you respond to your wilderness time will reveal what kind of person you are and it will set the direction for the kind of person you will become.

I’ve been in the wilderness myself.  It wasn’t long ago that I was so broke that I had to dig through my car for loose change just to buy a meal.  My bank account was tapped out and my credit cards were maxed out.  But I discovered that God had lessons to teach me in the wilderness that I could learn nowhere else.  God has lessons to teach you as well.

Do you know the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness?  We read about it in Matthew chapter four.  I never paid attention to the first verse of that chapter until I was experiencing a wilderness.  The verse says, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness.”

“What?” I thought.  “Jesus is in the desert because God wants him there?”  I believed desert experiences were bad things.  I thought it was a sign that you had been demoted, not promoted; but now those mistaken beliefs were shattered by the truth that confronted me in this verse.  God leads us into the wilderness.
God has plans for us, but before He will trust us with His power He must teach us some wilderness lessons.  When we understand this, we can embrace the wilderness and learn God’s lessons.  Instead of heading down a path of despair that will lead to bad choices, we’ll have hope because we understand that God is preparing us for His future plans.

God used my wilderness experience to get me to realize that I had been treating God as if He were Brylcreem.  You know, “Just a little dab will do ya.”  In my wilderness, I learned to become desperate for God and nothing else.  God was all I had and I learned that He was all I needed.

In your wilderness, that may be the lesson God wants you to learn as well.  If you learn that lesson it will be life-changing because when you’re desperate for God and nothing else, you become a person God can trust to accomplish great things. 

This was just one of many lessons I learned in my wilderness experience.  I share it to encourage you.  God is in the wilderness with you and He will use the experience to do great things in your life – if you’ll let Him.  I pray that you will.

Bishop Carthen has a new book out called, Amen All by Myself: Discovering God in Life’s Wilderness. Amen Al by Myself tells the story of Sherwood’s wilderness experience and shares life-changing lessons that can only be learned in the wilderness.  You can purchase your copy at

If you would like to visit Bishop Carthen’s church, Bayside of South Sacramento, they meet on Saturdays at 6 pm. and Sundays at 9:30 and 11:15 am. at Sacramento City College.  To find out more, visit .

Contribution Writer, Bishop Sherwood Carthen of BOSS-Bayside of South Sacramento


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