Advent Devotional

Calling in the Wilderness

Jennifer Klein went to high school with my husband back in the day. Since then, she has become an incredible artist, illustrator, and author of the children’s books Sir Bumble and Princess Pristina. She’s also one of the coolest nerds I know. That’s high praise in the Ellis house. 

Welcome, Jen!


olenka-kotyk-75067
Photo by Olenka Kotyk on Unsplash

Calling in the Wilderness

by Jennifer Klein

“ a voice of one calling in the desert: ‘make way for the Lord…’” –Isaiah 40:3

Why on earth would God send this prophet out to the desert with his all-important message of repentance and comfort and the coming kingdom?

The desert. It’s hot and dry and kinda out of the way. Why not make the message more accessible by plopping John the Baptist into heart of Jerusalem? Doesn’t God want people to hear this message? It makes the control freak in me panic a little. Hey God! People might miss your good news!!

But after pausing to take a breath, I actually get excited. Knowing God even the little bit I do, I figure that within this mystery was something to be learned about God’s heart. I kept praying and waiting on Him for an insight.

A moment of clarity came – the desert, the wilderness. It’s a testing place, a preparation place. Israel wandered there for decades as God prepared them for the promised land. Jesus suffered there for 40 days as He was being prepared for his earthly ministry. The weakness that the wilderness brings teaches dependence on God alone. It purifies. It forces us to put aside our limited strength and understanding and rely on him instead.

…Kinda like repentance and baptism do. Aha!

John the Baptist was sent to the wilderness to prepare Israel for the kingdom of heaven. God wasn’t playing games; He was getting people ready so that they wouldn’t miss it!

In my own life I’ve seen how God still uses the wilderness to shape me and people I love, make us understand Him better and grow our trust and dependence on Him. It may not involve many deserts or mountains (unless you mean mountains of laundry or hours-long drives through the desert with a potty training child who needs the bathroom…), but the heart of the experience is still ours: the long waiting periods of spiritual dryness, the panicky moments where you wonder where God went, the longing for some fresh provision.

In my life right now the wilderness includes the many hats I wear, the competing tug between the messy kitchen from the party we hosted, the still-unpacked suitcase, laundry, Legos, random wrapping paper cluttering the living room floor, school commitments and church commitments and little ones who need hugs. It sounds too boring to be a wilderness and yet… it continually brings me to my knees. I need Jesus like Israel needed manna.

Every. Single. Day.

And he meets me here. He meets me in the friend who spontaneously brings dinner, the event that inexplicably gets cancelled after I realize I had double booked myself, in the child who gives me a hug when I didn’t deserve one. My faith and trust are built in a million ways my faith as I cry out to him in the wilderness.

Make way.


What wilderness are you in this season?

How is God meeting you there with hope and provision?


Jennifer Klein is the creator of the picture book series “Kingdom of Mixedupalot.” She loves author bio pic smallteaching children about Jesus and doing all things creative including drawing, baking, and writing stories. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two kids, and one fluffy sweet (slightly neurotic) dog named Muppet.

Check out her books and her blog (with free Mommy & Me coloring pages and devotions!) at www.mixedupalot.wordpress.com

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