Wilderness Experiences

While going through a divorce, a man learns how God authoritatively cares for him, always.

By Brooks Anderson, Santa Rosa, CA

Categories: Guidance, Loss, Loving and Forgiving

Are there any experiences you've had where the Bible has been an immediate help?
I was going through separation and divorce a few years ago. It was such a depressing time for me. It was a huge shake up. I did not want to get divorced. I had a family. I took up tennis again as a solo thing and would hit the ball against the backboard for just some therapy, asking my Father-Mother God to help me, searching for comfort. On one of these tearful mornings, the thought came to me, "[M]y ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa 55:8-9). That brought not only immediate comfort to me, but also a sense of authority in my life. That was a big breakthrough.

Could you explain why having authority during the divorce was a breakthrough?
Comfort to me is a nice, wonderful, soothing thought that counters the stress or fear or terror that was there before. Authority is a big, deep step further. It's a paradigm shift, like a catharsis. It's the major "Aha!" moment where you are saying to yourself, "I'm going to walk on new ground. I'm ready for a change." And that hunger for change brings authority where you are no longer fooled, depressed, angry, fearful. You are no longer shifting from terror to comfort, but are consistently walking with strong new way of thinking and acting.

How were you changed by this revelation?
Well, it didn't happen over night. It was still a challenging time. But I can look back and see I was leaning more deeply on God. I gained a deeper recognition of leading a spiritually-based life -- moving up to a new plateau. A verse from the Bible or an insight from someone can be so deeply helpful that you go higher. When you're working through a longer term situation, whether it's illness or divorce or financial worry, you are like a Bible character. Your lesson may not take forty years as it did for the children of Israel, but that's what they needed – to wander in the wilderness. They could've gone from point A to point B, but they didn't. Through their wanderings, they learned about standing with authority, with God. They got stronger and stronger and stronger.

Can you expand on why the wilderness experience is so important?
In the beginning stages of a trying time, you're not thinking about authority; you're thinking about trying to get sleep. When you're grasping for air at night through your tears and tight chest, you're in the wilderness. The wilderness is a vestibule where we gain a clearer sense of Spirit, a clearer sense of God. These are really important times. As much as we despise them and don't want to be in them, and would rather be in our comfort zone, we need the wilderness. The comfort zone can be deadening. We don't get stretched to learn or grow. But we can come out of the wilderness with authority. After Paul's conversion, he was walking around Syria for two years sharpening his "tools." That was his wilderness experience. After Jesus came out of his wilderness experience (where he was "tempted"), he was on fire, preaching and teaching and healing. He was lifted up.

So how did this apply to your situation?
Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). I felt I was being lifted up into a stronger sense of dominion. I realized I wasn't really after comfort. I needed to get stronger with God. The Bible talks about the "armour of light" (Rom 13:12). Jesus clearly tells us not to hide our light and put it "under a bushel," but to use the candlestick for everyone: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt 5:14-16). And when Jesus says, "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light" (Matt 6:22), I equate that with a clear sense of authority. The light lifts you up.

Is there anything else you learned from the wilderness/divorce experience?
There was a spiritual counselor working with us, who at one point told me, "Brooks, your ex-wife paints in watercolors, but you paint in oils, and you can change things." When you paint in watercolor, it's permanent and you can't change what you've done. When you paint with oils, you have the ability to let it dry and start over. You can say, "Okay, I was wrong. I did some bad paintings, but I have the ability to use it as an under-painting, start over, and make it a richer and deeper painting." I've learned how to be flexible and move forward with authority and with light.