It was July 2016. In a lapse of judgement, I agreed to participate in a game of truth or dare as I sat in the hot tub with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, all of us on vacation in central California. We actually had some good laughs and deeper conversation during this childhood game. Each time it was my turn, I picked truth. (Bottom line? I didn’t want to get out of the hot tub.) One round, my husband copy-catted the question I had just asked him. (Doesn’t everyone know that is against the rules?) I humored him even though I protested at the stolen question and settled into thought so I could give a truthful answer.
The question, “What is one thing you’d change about your life?”, gave me pause. They wouldn’t allow me to answer the obvious–annihilate Batten Disease. I had to go deeper. I found myself saying, “I’d have more adventure in my life. I’d go parasailing and paddle boarding. I wouldn’t be so bound by the mundane, the same routine all the time.” That was my answer after about 5 seconds of thinking. But later, I pondered that question. My answer was a surface response for something deeper attempting to come out.
WHEN LIFE FEELS LIKE A DESERT
I find myself suffering to the mundane over and over again in this life. Anyone else? Each day I wake up knowing it’s going to look the very same as the day before, with small, almost imperceptible, implications telling me it’s actually Tuesday rather than Monday. The days have been hard to track lately.
Our dreams and passions might have had to shift during this time also. Our secure foundations may be feeling slippery lately. The complete inability to anticipate the next turn can keep us up at night, raise our anxiety, and cause us to ask a whole lot of questions about why this is happening to us? Vacations, graduations and meaningful ceremonies have been canceled. And all of this can leave us feeling like we are living in a desert–the circumstances of our world sucking the life out of us. And we find ourselves asking this question, “Am I even on the right path?”
During these months, we may feel stunted and cut off from our plans to adventure and grow. And no matter how hard we try to push through those places, we hit walls–walls we’ve either constructed in our own minds, or walls placed there by others or our circumstances.
WHEN GOD’S PEOPLE WANDERED THROUGH THEIR DESERT
In the book of Numbers, we come across the story of Moses sending Joshua, Caleb and 10 others into the Promised Land to scope it out and report back. Every one of the spies saw a lush, valuable land. But only 2 saw it through the lens of God’s promise to the Israelites. Fearful what-if’s blinded the rest of the spies. Joshua and Caleb held no what-ifs, but rather, set their eyes on what was true. God had promised them, and that was enough for them to step into the unknown. But the fear and doubt of the rest of the group caused the Israelites to wander in the desert until an entire generation passed away. Only Caleb and Joshua would live to see the promised land.
The people weren’t ready to step into the next adventure God had for them. But 40 years later, Joshua is appointed the new leader. With his eyes on God and His promises, Joshua looks around at his people and says, “Get your stuff together. We’re going in three days.” With full trust, Joshua listened to God’s instructions. There was no “Joshua plan”, it was God’s plan. It was an unearthly, miraculous victory into the Promised Land. I mean, really, who defeats a city by simply marching circles around their walls? But the power of God was with them and the obedient step into the great unknown was a game changer. The Israelites finally moved forward in trust and obedience.
Deuteronomy 1:2 tells us normally it should only take 11 days to travel from Egypt to the Promised Land. 11 days. Instead, the Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years because they were afraid to take the obedient step based on trust in the One and Only God who had proven His faithfulness over and over.
WHAT ROADBLOCKS ARE WE PUTTING IN OUR WAY
I wondered back at my truth or dare answer–my wish for more adventure. What did that really mean? Was it a pat answer to a silly game or was there a soul discovery to be uncovered? Was I standing at the edge of the Promised Land? Must I journey in the desert for 40 years before obediently stepping in to His promise? Or worse, miss His promise all together?
I wanted to jump in with full trust and obedience that led to action. But I honestly didn’t know what I was supposed to even step into. Doubt, confusion, unexpected plot twists, and circumstances out of my control blinded me, the trust jump feeling impossible. How could I say to myself, “Pack your things, Bekah. We are going in three days.” Where would God call me, if I said yes? And how would I know if I’m really on the right path?
WHAT ARE WE ACTUALLY STEPPING INTO?
I have hindsight bias looking back to that moment of Bekah in the hot tub in 2016, life taken over by Batten Disease, much of her control stripped way. And I can say to her, without a doubt, that great adventure she craved was right there in front of her. It was a new perspective God would gift her, so she could see each and every step of life was an adventure in God’s big story. These life moments were her Joshua moments, even if they didn’t look as radical as crashing down the walls of Jericho.
During our time in quarantine, I have had this butterfly rush of gratitude flow through me, randomly, and at the most interesting times. I could be at the sink washing dishes, or picking up Ely’s toys. It flaps across my heart and settles in my gut and gives me pause to stop and take note. In those moments, I hold my breath because a revelation is close. Joy lives here in the middle of my mundane. This task of caring for my family is one of great adventure. Here was this rushing, gushing gratitude and a feeling of worthy adventure and accomplishment. And more than that–an awareness I can see all of this because of the lens of Jesus. This is my great adventure. This is my calling.
WE ALL GET TO STEP INTO THESE JOSHUA MOMENTS
But I want one of those grand Joshua moments! You know? The ones where I step out and do extraordinary things like he did. And then God reminds me, “Who prepared the way for the Israelites?” You did, God.
“Who parted the water for them?” You, God.
“Who prepared the heart of Rahab, knocked down the walls of Jericho, met His people over and over on the battlefield–fighting as the underdog–helping them win over and over?” You, Lord.
And what was Joshua’s role? To trust and to step forward. Walking around a wall seems to be a pretty mundane thing to me. But with the love and power of God pulsing through, it becomes life-changing adventure.
WE ARE PART OF THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
May we never forget what it felt like to land our dream job, see our baby’s face for the first time, jump off a cliff, get the big win or promotion, receive an award, take the trip of a lifetime.
But let’s also not forget those character-building, gratitude-swelling, soul-searching moments along the way. The days where you get out of bed to do the exact same thing you did yesterday on far too little sleep. The days where you feel something’s got to give because you’ve got nothing left. This place, our desert–let’s not miss the adventures held here.
The desert was a refining chapter for the Israelites. God re-established their identity as His chosen people. Those desert moments shaped them, broke them, revived them. So, let’s shout thankfulness for our desert, just part of the adventure. And may we all live in this moment knowing God is here. He is working and we have reason to proclaim thankfulness even on week I-don’t-even-know-anymore of an endless set of groundhog days.
When you question if you’re on the right path, remember. We are invited to be part of the greatest story ever told right now. Not tomorrow, or after we’ve gone back to school or nailed the right job. Right now. Let’s step into that truth and awareness, shifting our perspectives to see His call to great adventure here in front of us.
Thanks for listening,
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