More on Desolation

written by Chris Hartenstein
Well, I hope you were both encouraged and challenged by the four podcasts we recommended by the team at Wild at Heart. We gained much wisdom and perspective from them and hope you did as well. As I was listening and praying through what I heard, one topic stood out that needed more clarity. I took the word desolation to our Dad and asked Him what more I needed. Over the course of a week, He took me to various places in my story, to current events and the battles we were facing within our family, ministry, and small business. What I saw was a “world at war”, my world. “Desolation” was all around and I could feel its heaviness in my deep heart.  Being a practical guy and wanting to be able to apply to daily living the truths Jesus revealed during his life on earth I began to pray not just against desolation but for more clarity on “how” to defeat this enemy. I spent some really good study time in John 10 and specifically verse 10.  

“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life to the full.”  

How does this relate to desolation and the times and battles we find ourselves in today?

Let’s break it down! Our enemy wants to “Steal”...all the good in our lives. Any good fruit and freedom that is the result of Jesus’ work and healing. He will steal...at any cost...peace, joy, self-control, past, present, and future victories over sin, our family, hope, love. goodness, faith, patience, clarity, empathy for others - anything that is good. He hates the good in us and he knows it gives us life, it brings our Dad’s Kingdom to earth in and through each of us. He wants to steal all of that away. Why? Because it leads to something even direr...it leads to the “killing” of our hearts. When we lose hope, feel helpless, feel unloved, unseen, or that life just is never going to be “what it should be”...we lose heart! Without our hearts, we cannot ever be intimate with our heavenly Dad, the true source of all life. Remember “above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”. That loss of heart...is a death sentence. If our enemy can kill our heart then he knows we will never be what we were created to be because of the separation from our Dad. He destroys all possibility of us being what we were created to be and living the life we were created to live! He knows the essence of our purpose is to Glory our heavenly Dad, to be an image-bearer, to be intimate with Him. Without our hearts, we can never do that. Purpose is lost, life is lost, we are lost. This is desolation…” steal, kill and destroy”!

So what do we do with this?
Great question! We know the work of Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension is going to be core to the battle but we also must play our part. So let's look at our part...  

First, we need to invite Jesus into this process. Always start here. Ask him for wisdom, guidance, healing - anything you think you need.  

Second, we need to ask ourselves some questions about what is or has been “stolen”.  Start with some of the following:

How is joy? Am I fostering joy in my daily and weekly rhythms?

How is hope? Am I standing on my Dad’s truth as a foundation of my hope? Do I feel hopeful?

How is my patience? Am I short-tempered? Irritable? Angry?

How is love for others? Am I receiving the Father’s love daily? Do I love what I see in the mirror each day?

What is my daily outlook on life? Am I up? Down? Frustrated? Angry?

We must take an “internal inventory” of what we see the enemy trying or has already stolen. Again, we must invite Jesus into what we do next. Remember He is the “good shepherd” who leads us where?  To the pasture. That pasture represents all that we need...provision, his plans, protection, love, guidance, joy, peace, ultimately his presence, EVERYTHING we need, and LIFE! But we must follow him to where he leads.  

I have also learned to ask myself - where do I feel a loss of heart? Where do I feel like walking away, giving up, checking out?  Where do I feel I am disenchanted or discouraged about life?  These questions lead me back deeper into what has been stolen.  As I journaled, in solitude, he began to reveal so much...and as I listened to his heart and plan; quickly I began gaining back what was stolen, especially peace and hope. In many places, this began to lift the veil of desolation to a place of light. I have had to go back, weekly, even daily sometimes and ask “where is my heart?” I ask these questions repeatedly and make sure I am focused on His truth. This has steadied my footing, brought life, and given guidance into His presence. There in His presence, the foothold of desolation is crushed.    

I hope and pray this helps you, my friend. Desolation has ultimately LOST the war but we must battle it on this side of eternity. Jesus showed us how to do that in John 10, we just gotta do it! Our Dad loves us and desires what is best for us but that is fiercely opposed and we must be aware and intentional in our strategy. I pray you will battle well!  

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