Wilderness times take us out of our comfort zone. They take us into undiscovered places. Wild and free, unmapped and unseen. Initially, it’s terrifying. We haven’t been here before and we’re not sure we’re a fan. There are no signposts, and the terrain is unfamiliar. There are times that you feel unseen yourself. You might feel alone. There don’t seem to be many others on this wilderness trek. You might feel abandoned and you probably feel unprepared for the journey. What skills do I have to navigate this terrain? What qualifies me to do this expedition? How on earth do I know if I’m ready? And what about those life seasons where you don’t feel strong enough to face the storm you are about to walk into? You can see it swirling before you, across the apparent wasteland of the wilderness. You want to turn away, find another route – an easier path. You cling to the place that you are in, resisting the inevitable, hoping this will do, praying that you don’t need to step any further ahead. What is ahead seems too hard, requires too much, demands changes, and choices we may not find easy to make. Or sometimes we just gradually creep into it, little by little, not realising what direction we are even going in, it’s that incremental. One little decision here, one little attitude there, one little change…. And suddenly, we look around and we don’t even recognise where we are. We panic because we suddenly realise this wasn’t part of the plan. Or we resign ourselves to the new terrain, and set up camp in the wilderness, never realising there might be a way out.Jesus knows all about the wilderness. He allowed himself to be led BY the Spirit there and journeyed for 40 days through it. Alone, fasting, being tempted. He understands this terrain. The wilderness journey is not new to Him. But He didn’t stay there – He kept moving and He came through it, empowered for what was next. What if we also set aside our fear of the wilderness, and allowed ourselves to be drawn into it – not by our own perceived failings or weaknesses, but by the Spirit? What if it became a time of character shaping? Of knowing how deep our roots really go? When the winds and storms assail us in that wilderness, how firmly do we stand? How will we ever know, if we keep avoiding the storm? If we pray for no rain, no wind, easy times… how does that stretch us? The stigma of the wilderness is enough to keep us from even setting foot in it… but what if it didn’t? What if we chose to NOT do the journey alone? What if we not only allowed the Spirit to lead us, but also accompany us on this road as yet untraveled? And, what if we allowed a few key people around us to join us as well? People who would speak to the ‘big’ in us, who would help us carry the load when we felt weak, encourage us, cheer us on, reinforce what we were hearing from the Spirit… When you pause in the wilderness long enough, when you stop and breathe, making space for the whispers to be heard – because maybe you’ve finally put your own ideas to one side, or maybe you’ve left the other noise of life behind – maybe you’ll see the beauty of this untouched terrain. Maybe you’ll see all the untapped potential (it lies within you too, you know). You’ll see a landscape you’d possibly never considered. Yes, it’s undeveloped, some might say pristine. But it’s actually magnificent. And it’s ready for exploration. Allow the Spirit to lead you, even if it is into a wilderness. He knows the way through. His intention is never that you stay there.