The Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years making what was actually an 11-day journey. Why? Was it their enemies, their circumstances, the trials along the way, or something else that prevented them from arriving at their destination?
As I pondered this situation, the Lord said to me, "The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness making an 11-day trip because they had a wilderness mentality."
God called the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and directed them to go to the land He had promised to give them as a perpetual inheritance--a land that flowed with milk and honey and every good thing they could imagine; a land in which there was no shortage of everything they needed; a land of prosperity in every realm of their existence.
But the Israelites had no positive vision for their lives--no dreams. They knew where they came from, but they did not know where they were going. They did not know how to see with "the eye of faith."
We really shouldn't view the Israelites with astonishment because most of us do the same things they did. We keep going around and around the same mountains instead of making progress. The disappointing result is that it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have and should have been dealt with quickly.
I come from a background of abuse. I was raised in a dysfunctional home. My childhood was filled with fear and torment.
My personality was a mess. I built up walls of protection to keep people from hurting me. I was locking others out, but I was also locking myself in. I was a controller, so filled with fear that the only way I could face life was to feel that I was in control, and then no one could hurt me.
As a young adult trying to live for Christ and follow the Christian lifestyle, I knew where I had come from, but I did not know where I was going. I believed that my future would always be marred by my past. I thought: How could anyone who has the kind of past I do ever be really all right? It's impossible! I had a wilderness mentality.
But Jesus said, "'The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord'" (Luke 4:18-19, The Amplified Bible).
Jesus came to open the prison doors and set the captives free. I did not make any progress until I started to believe that I really could be set free. I had to have a positive vision for my life.
I had to believe that neither my past nor my present determine my future. I had to get rid of my wilderness thinking.
You may have had a miserable past, or you may be in current circumstances that are negative and depressing. You may be facing situations that are so bad it seems you have no reason to hope. But I say to you boldly, Your future is not determined by your past or your present!
Most of the generation the Lord called out of Egypt never entered the Promised Land. Instead, they died in the wilderness. To me, this is one of the saddest things that can happen to a child of God--to have so much available and yet never be able to enjoy any of it.
We need a new mind-set. We need to start believing that God's Word is true. Matthew 19:26 tells us that with God all things are possible.
All He needs is our faith in Him. He needs for us to believe, and He will do the rest.
The Lord is saying the same thing to you and me today that He said to the children of Israel--"'You have dwelt long enough on this mountain'" (Deut. 1:6). It's time for us to move on!