You know the feeling. The sun has set on another day that you didn’t get what you’ve been believing for.
You’re still unemployed. You’re still fighting cancer. Your prodigal still hasn’t come home. You still can’t shake that depression you’ve been battling for years. You still can’t get pregnant. Your adoption journey has hit yet another roadblock. You’re still waiting on your husband, and my gosh, it’s been more than a decade and you must have been in 15 of your friends weddings by now.
We’re all waiting for something. Some of us are in the early days of waiting where it still feels hopeful, or maybe even exciting — like a new adventure.
But some of us are tired. Some of us have been trekking through the wilderness for a long time, and we’re dying to reach the end of this journey. We wonder if we’ll ever reach the mountain tops or walk the beaches of paradise we thought we had been promised. We wonder if maybe the promise was just our imagination, and we sometimes wish this season of empty longing was just a bad dream.
I sat across a dinner table from a friend a few days ago, and I told her I was sick of not enjoying this season. I told her I felt like something in me had shifted, like I knew that no matter how long I was here, I was still headed towards the promise. I guess I had reached a point where I felt like I had no choice but to keep moving — I wasn’t going to quit.
I had decided to draw a line in the sand where doubt could no longer continue to accompany me on this journey through the desert. I didn’t know how much longer the journey would be, but I knew I’d be traveling lighter from here on out.
Doubt was heavy. It was a thief of joy and a murderer of hope. Doubt had to go.
I told my friend I was tired from the journey, but I just know it has to be worth it — I can feel it in my bones. And I want to live like I know God has something for me here. I want my eyes to be filled with wonder again, and I want to travel this winding road that’s longer than I thought it would be with a heart that’s eager to find every piece of treasure God has for me along the way.
At the end of all this my friend said, “Sara, that’s you living in the story like it’s already finished — living inside the promise before it actually comes is the nature of the story of God.”
She was right, and I was encouraged. We live in a world of here and now, but we belong to a kingdom outside of time.
I get frustrated that my story still lives in the land of not-yet, but I’m reminded that God’s story is still here too. It isn’t finished.
Everything we know about the story of God and His people, from the beginning of time through the history of mankind, through the deserts and the valleys, the heartbreak and the barrenness, the adultery and the wars, the lowest of lows rescued by the best love story ever told, a savior who would take our place in our pain and promise an eternity of happily ever after — even that story was left us with a, “to be continued.”
It’s not finished yet. And I wonder if it’s because He is so kind as to invite us into the story with Him.
I wonder if the desert is actually one of the best places to be… it’s the pathway to the promised land. It’s the place where he stamps us with his image and meets us where no one else ever could.
I was at a vineyard a few weeks ago, looking at a giant warehouse full of barrels of wine, waiting to be aged just right before they would be bottled. I laughed a little bit to myself at a thought that was strangely comforting: even the wine has to wait.
Waiting isn’t punishment, and it isn’t a rite of passage. It’s an invitation. An invitation to deeper places, where only the brave dare to continue to dream and hope, knowing without a doubt that there are storehouses of good things waiting for their time. Like barrels full of great wine.
So here we are, each of us in a desert of our own. And in this place I’m choosing to believe that there are heavenly storehouses filled with barrels of good wine with my name on them, waiting to be poured out when it’s time.
In the meantime? I’m throwing parties in the desert. I’m choosing joy even when my hope feels tired and my faith feels tattered, weathered and bruised — because He has given me so many other reasons to dance and to sing, to laugh and to love and to celebrate.
The story isn’t finished, but the ending already has a promise. So I keep going. I left doubt a few miles back on this journey, and I’m not turning back.