The wilderness wanderer
(Joseph Philpot, "The
Wilderness Wanderer" 1867)
"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary
way; they found no city to dwell in." Psalm 107:4
The true Christian finds this world to be a wilderness.
There is no change in the world itself.
The change is in the man's heart.
The wilderness wanderer thinks it
different world from what he has hitherto known . . .
his own family,
the employment in which he is daily engaged,
the general pursuits of men,
the cares and anxieties,
the hopes and prospects,
the amusements and pleasures, and
what I may call 'the general din and whirl of life',
all seem to him different to what they were; and
for a time perhaps he can scarcely tell whether the
change is in them, or in himself.
This however is the prominent and uppermost feeling
in his mind: that he finds himself, to his surprise a
wanderer in a world which has changed altogether its
appearance to him. The fair, beautiful world, in which was
all his happiness and all his home; has become to him
a dreary wilderness.
Sin has been fastened in its conviction on his conscience.
The Holy Spirit has taken the veil of unbelief and ignorance
off his heart. He now sees the world in a wholly different
light; and instead of a paradise it has become a wilderness;
for sin, dreadful sin, has marred all its beauty and happiness.
It is not because the world itself has changed that the Christian
feels it to be a wilderness; but because he himself has changed.
There is nothing in this world which can really gratify or satisfy
the true Christian. What once was to him a happy and joyous
world has now become a barren wilderness.
The scene of his former . . .
anticipations of profit or happiness,
is now turned into a barren wasteland.
What once was a blooming and verdant pasture,
a glorious scene of hill and dale, trees and flowers,
is now turned into sand and gravel, with the burning
sun of God's wrath above, and the parched sand of
his own desolate heart beneath.
He cannot perhaps tell how or why the change has
taken place, but he feels it, deeply feels it. He may
try to shake off his trouble and be a little cheerful
and happy as he was before; but if he gets a little
imaginary relief, all his guilty pangs come back upon
him with renewed strength and increased violence.
God means to make the world a wilderness to every
child of His, that he may not find his happiness in it,
but be a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.