Updated: Jan 12, 2021
When You Want Out
I saw a meme the other day that said, "I'd like to end my 7-day free trial of 2021. I'm no longer interested."
I chuckled and kept scrolling, but as the day wore on my mind kept returning to that meme. As I thought more about it, I realized how perfectly it summed up the dejection that many of us are feeling now that the excitement of the new year is over. It revealed our desperate hope that all 2020 tension would be remedied by the flipping of the calendar, and the fact that our morale has plummeted now that little has changed.
I've certainly felt that this week. I'm tired of the word 'pandemic.' I hate that COVID is often at the forefront of my mind. The political banter exhausts and embarrasses me. The finger-pointing saddens me. And these are just the external world matters that weigh on me. Added to those are the intricately woven layers of motherhood, marriage, friendship, career, and the health of loved ones for which I feel responsible.
The noise is loud and constant. It feels like it's been so long since things have felt comfortable or easy. I see no end in near sight, no time when I'll be able to put all of these concerns neatly onto the shelf and say, "Phew, I'm glad that's over."
It's times like these, when I can't see the finish line, that I just want to bail.
Get me off this crazy train, I start to beg God.
I'm over it.
It's too hard.
I'm not in control and I hate it.
The In-Between Part
This feeling of walking around in unknown territory, of waiting and wandering and wondering when God is going to lead us out of all this, makes me think of Moses and the Israelites, who wandered around in the desert for forty years. God had performed a series of miracles in order to free them from slavery in Egypt and he promised he'd lead them to the Promised Land, but oh boy, did those Israelites hate the in-between part.
The part of waiting on God to deliver them.
The part of being uncomfortable
The part of being out of control.
They hated it so much that after only two months, they cried out in misery, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger" (CSB, Exodus 16:3)!
They'd literally rather die than be in this middle zone, this in-between time, this space between slavery and freedom that felt uncertain and uneasy and terrifying.
I think those are the sort of times we're in. The in-between times. The space between slavery and freedom. Right now, we're in the middle of a stretch of wilderness that continues farther than we can see. We know there's hope of a better future, but it's distant and hazy.
Like the Israelites, we're waiting for reprieve from the long journey. We don't want to keep moving through this desert place but we know there is no going back. The Red Sea was split and we passed through it, and now the waters have closed again behind us.
Things that we never thought could happen have happened, and now we cannot stuff our limited understanding of reality back into the tidy recesses of our brains.
God is blowing our preconceived notions to smithereens, and right now we are feeling out of sorts and a little lost.
God Delivers on His Promises
But don't forget - the Israelites made it to the Promised Land in the end. Their passage was made complete. After their long season of wandering, Moses implored them to reflect on that time, saying, "And you saw in the wilderness how the Lord your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place. But in spite of this you did not trust the Lord you God, who went before you on the journey to seek out a place for you to camp" (CSB, Deuteronomy 1:31-32). So, standing on the precipice between the desert and the Promised Land, the in-between space and freedom, many were forced to regretfully acknowledge that they hadn't actually trusted God to get them there.
But God always gets his people where they need to go. So today, while we cannot unsubscribe from our 7-day trial of 2021, and we cannot change the circumstances that are pressing against us from every side, we can remember that we are not the first people to be wandering in dusty deserts, feeling worried or angry or demoralized. We come from a long line of wanderers, and from a faithful God who has delivered every one.