" For many are called, but few are chosen. "(Mt 22:14) Why is it that so few are chosen from the ranks of those who are "called" ? "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Lk 14:33)
When the Bible speaks of this " forsaking " it is refering to a lot more than the abandoning of mere material posessions. Things can and do hold great importance in some people's lives and they can stand in the way of a person's dedication to the Lord, but the greatest hinderance to a person's life-long dedication to God is the " self ", that deep-rooted, entrenched "me,myself and I" that we have been trained by social values to put first in our lives. The world says, " me first "; the Bible says that too, except when the Bible says it it is refering to Jesus. It is to be Jesus first, not the "self" !
Along the path of spiritual growth, and faithful study of God's Word we are brought through changes in our lives that are designed to make us better vessels for the Master's use " He must increase, but I must decrease." (Jn 3:30) The Bible promises us that the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (see He 4:12. and it isn't long before those intentions of the heart are brought to the surface and we are faced with decisions that are life-changing.
Jesus Himself was brought to such a life-changing decision in the garden of the Mount of Olives where it is said that the test was so severe as to bring about great drops of blood where sweat should have been." And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. " (Lk 22:44) His conclusion after this test was, " not my will but Thy will be done "(Lk 22:42) He submitted to the will of His Father.
We also are brought to this decision of death of the self ; and like Jesus, we must decide who's will is more important, ours or God's ? Decidedly, this is not for everyone, although for those who recieve the "high calling of God in Christ Jesus" there can be no other avenue.
Ok, so why is this called "The Desert" ? When such a "calling" has gone out and a person answers the call of God, but half way through the breaking process they decide that it is too high a price and walk out on God thinking that things will just settle back down to "the way it was before" they are in for quite the surprise. The Bible says, "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." (He 10:38) and to have mocked and made a fool of the Lord is not without consequences. When the prophet Jonah disputed with the Lord about carrying through with what God told him to do and refused to obey and ran away thinking that would get him off the hook, what happened ? Along comes a great big fish (whale) and swallows him whole ! You'd think he would immediately come to his senses and yield to God's will, but his deep-rooted refusal took awhile to wear thin there in the whale's belly, and when it finally did wear thin and he forsook his own way in favour of God's will then the fish spit him out and he was right back where he started prior to being swallowed. He still had to do what God wanted him to do. All that time lost and he still had to go back to where he forsook God's way and do it anyway !
When the children of Israel were miraculously delivered from the grips of Pharaoh's system by numerous signs, wonders and powerful evidence of God's presence they still hadn't forsaken the idols of Egypt in their hearts and so while in the wilderness they still worshipped these idols so that they had to literally go around in circles for 40 years until all those who had doubted and refused God's way had died and only then, with fresh faith, were they allowed to enter into the promised land.
And this is what happens to those who start out by accepting God's call but then when faced with having to rid themselves of them selves in order to be useful vessels in God's hands, and turn their backs on the Lord and refuse to break from their "idol" in their heart then that is as far as they will ever grow spiritually.They right there and then enter the spiritual desert where they will stay until such a time as they finally cry out to the Lord and submit to do His will. What can this "idol" be, you ask? "What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?" (1Cor 10:19) It is any thing that is coming between you and the Lord. It can even be a certain behaviour, or lack thereof. Inaction is still a form of action, only more subtle. To claim that "I didn't do anything !" might just be the problem, when God's plan was for you to do something not nothing. Passive refusal is actually worse than outright refusal as it is inaction born of rebellion in the heart.
We are all born with the majesty of choice to chose to do good or evil, but once a commitment has been made and the spiritual marriage taken place with the Lord then there is no longer any choice in the matter. God does not believe in divorce due to "irreconcilable differences". He expects you to reconcile your differences by yielding to His will, not by rebelling and turning away. He will have no other gods that pass before Him, and that includes the god of "self" ! Oh, sure, you can go on your merry way, but things will not be "business as usual". Your spiritual growth and relationship with the Lord will grind to a halt ... gradually ... you probably won't even notice ... until your spiritual life is dry and barren and lifeless. You will be in your spiritual desert to the day that you break before the Lord and call to Him in a true spirit of repentance. He will be there and will recieve you, as the father received his prodical son who'd left the family and his home next to his father. (Luke chapt 15) You may have given up the crown of your original calling , but God is faithful to give you another once your loyalty to Him has been assured. "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." ( 2Tim 2:13)
This spiritual desert can last for years ! But it doesn't have to. Only you can determine how long it will last. The Lord, in the meantime, will deal with you in an attempt to coax you into breaking before Him so that you can come back into fellowship with Him. He says that He will never leave you nor forsake you (He 13:5), even if sometinmes He has to make your life meaningless without Him. He says He is married to the backslidder, " Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you:... "(Jer 3:14) His love and devotion are eternal, although that doesn't mean that He doesn't get upset," He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever." (Ps 103:9) And if you are truly one of His children then you can expect that He will behave as any loving father would. " For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. " (He 12:6) He will not allow you to make a fool of Him without consequences !
Cast your self on the altar of God's will and reap the great spiritual rewards that an intimate relationship with the Lord can bring. Come out of the desert today ! "The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility." ( Pro 15:33)
" For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (He 6:4-6)