The Wilderness Experience
When we go through the wilderness experience, some choose to renounce the outside world, and others retreat into some spiritual, emotional or psychological cave, and cut themselves off from all normal social interaction and engagement in daily life. Whatever our response, this is the point on our spiritual quest when we are confronted with the tricksters and demons of hell, and we question everything we ever learned—How can a loving God allow this to happen to me? Have I been fooling myself all these years? Does God really exist? Why doesn’t He show Himself, and take some kind of action, and mount a rescue mission?
It’s during the wilderness experience that God seems to disappear—He can neither be seen, heard or experienced, and our faith seems hollow and meaningless. How can sin and evil exist in a world supposedly governed by a loving and sovereign God? The experience of the great travelers on the spiritual path is that the wilderness is a place through which we must travel in order to reach a place of greater intimacy with God.
There is a process of pilgrimage associated with the desert; there’s a journey we have to travel, and sometimes it is only at the depths, and after much wandering, that the encounter or shift occurs that moves us out of the desert. A really valuable part of that pilgrimage can be to get away from normal life for a little bit, to get out of town, or go to a retreat center—even if it is only for a few days. Getting out of the normal rut of life can create a very helpful perspective, in much the same way that one benefits from being refreshed physically.