In the Bible you would find God's greatest prophets in the wilderness. There seems to be this connection between great men and wilderness. Jesus went to the wilderness before he started his ministry; John the Baptist was a man of the wilderness; Elijah came out of no where (probably from the wilderness where he was trained by God). They always come out of the wilderness as men who have behold the glory of The king.
The wilderness is a place where hunger and desperation for God is expressed. It is a place of hunger, abandonment, separation, emptiness and death. It is desperation that drives us to the wilderness - that cry in our heart that "I rather see God or die here". Yes the wilderness is a place of hunger and desperation. I am not talking about a physical wilderness but a spiritual one. I am talking about leaving your life (who you are and the things you do) to just get lost there in the things of the spirit, crying out desperately for God. It is by passing through this wilderness that we become a vessel for the glory of God. We become like Moses as God's glory radiate on our faces.
This experience starts when you get tired of your shallow spiritual life, you want more, just more of God. You start getting obsess with the desire for more of God. Unable to sleep, you keep turning on your bed, troubled with that desire, your heart continue to cry "please more, I want to know you more, reveal yourself to me". Even while you sleep you wake up in the midnight to hear yourself still crying unconsciously in your heart "Lord I want to know you". You become so obsess with the desire to know Him that you begin to hate every other thing, you begin to loss interest in every other thing. Little by little you are drifting away, away from things you use to do, even away from your social life. You can't bear to joke around, socializing with people while that hunger continued to burn inside you. You are troubled, unrest when you are among friends wasting away time, you just can't remain with them.
"No! I must know Him, I must know Him" those thought posses your mind, they troubles you, they are driving you mad. Like a wild hungry lion you begin to devour and explore everything that might lead you to knowing Him. You realize you have no time to do the things you use to do before, your mind is just focus on knowing Him. You begin to even hate life itself, so you found yourself in the wilderness, starving yourself of life - of the chance to do what others are doing. You just can't bear to continue living life without knowing Him, it is either you die or know Him. So there you lay in the wilderness, wasting away in hunger and deprivation.
You must know Him - yes, you must know Him. You gathered all the materials that your hand can reach, materials that points you to Him. Restlessly you search and unrelenting you continued, while each night you cry out for Him. You are loosing yourself, you know you are loosing yourself but you don't care. Like Ester, you tell yourself "if I perish, I perish". Oh, you're so determined. And right there in the wilderness God is draining you of yourself, emptying you because it is your fullness that has prevent Him to fill you with Himself. All this while you were so busy with your life and busy with religion, as a result He couldn't reveal Himself to you. Now here in the wilderness He had gotten you where He wants you and He must drain you of yourself in order to fill you with Himself.
So there in the wilderness you thought you were dying, but no! Something greater is happening to you, something wonderful. It was God that put that desire in your heart, and as you nurtured it and allow it posses you, it brought you to the wilderness where God wants you. And now God is emptying you and you feel like you are going to die. The devil comes to tempt you, to make you run, "run away from the wilderness and abandon God there" he tells you. Just when you are so close to God revealing Himself to you, you suddenly develop the desire to leave the wilderness and go and mingle with the world, get entangled in religious activities and the mundane things of the world. But you overcame because you are an overcomer. You remain there and allow yourself die and out of that death came life, yes the Life reveals Himself to you. You found what your soul hungers for, here is He, the one you have been seeking to know, at last! At last! Oh, It's worth it, it is worth all the suffering and sacrifice.
"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." (Jer 29:13). The way to glory is emptiness and death that is born out of the desperation to know God.