Your soul may feel lost in the wilderness, but take heart, for it is also where His Presence can be found. When I was looking for God as a child, I stumbled upon His name while sitting in a hotel room during family vacation, watching a gospel movie on the television. Before that, I had no idea that His name was Jesus! Even though I didn’t know the gospel yet, that name felt dear to me. It felt like I had ﬁgured out a secret and discovered a key.
Years later, encountering Him and getting saved was not the culmination of my spiritual journey but rather just the start. Try ﬂipping through the pages of the Bible, and you’ll ﬁnd that it is gushing with stories of human beings having a tangible relationship with God! I wanted that. I heard countless testimonies, but I wanted my own. When I listened to sermons, I was inspired to seek Him, but I wasn‘t sure how. When I went on mission trips, I witnessed His many works, and I was increasingly equipped to do more works for Him. When I read books, I attained incredible insight into the Christian faith. I knew more, thanks to these resources. When I sat under the tutelage of several anointed pastors, I received priceless wisdom. I have come to value all these things, but they weren’t the object of my search. They didn’t complete me. Neither did my achievements, the very achievements that I had ardently prayed over. Marriage and children were a gift, no doubt, but they weren’t the object of my search either. When I accepted my calling to ministry and gave my whole life to preach the gospel, I was thrilled. But still, that wasn’t the object of my search.
Ultimately, I found what I was looking for in the wilderness — that dry and barren wasteland of confusion, weakness, and sorrow. It was there that I befriended the Presence of God. In the years that I cried out to Him to free me from my wandering and waiting, I didn’t know that He was answering an old prayer I had forgotten. It was the quiet prayer of a six-year-old Korean American girl who was looking for Jesus in the library. In the wilderness, He was fulﬁlling the desire of that little girl’s heart. I used to disdain limitations, failures, and trials. I thought these things barred me from experiencing His Presence. Turns out that they became vehicles for a deeper intimacy. They ushered me right into the throne room and kept me there for years. The wilderness gave me a Friend.
It is human to despise the wilderness and its brutal terrain. No matter your religious afﬁliation or your record of good deeds, you will endure things on this earth that are beyond you. You will know shame that sticks to you like a scarlet letter. You will know worries that place the weight of the world on your shoulders. You will know rejection, and it will be completely unjust. You will know disappointment no matter how much you strategize your way through life. You will know closed doors that mercilessly remain sealed no matter how hard you kick and pound. You will know the anguish of waiting and utter helplessness. But as you endure this wilderness of the soul, know that you will ﬁnd something else. A hope. A reward. A purpose. A companion. You will ﬁnd His Presence.
Randy and Tammy sit down with Faith Eury Cho this Wednesday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Experiencing Friendship With God by Faith Eury Cho. Copyright ©2023 by Faith Eury Cho. Published by Waterbrook, an imprint of Random House. Used by permission.