I turned 40 today. And, you know? That’s not such a bad thing.
As the last few months passed and the big 4-0 loomed larger, I started wondering how I would feel when it was mere days away and the inevitable was staring me in the face. Would I feel desperate? Would I put on a happy face and try to divert attention from the big day? Or would I accept aging with grace and – dare I say it – celebrate?
Two weeks ago, I was listening to this message and my pastor spoke about the Israelites wandering for 40 years. Yes, I already knew the Israelites wandered for 40 years; this is nothing new to me. But for the first time, the “40” hit me differently and I realized the Israelites wandered for as long as I’ve been alive. That would be like me wandering for 40 years and never knowing my home, never having a foundation or a place of permanency. I thought about spending 40 years living in Temporary and Waiting, and then thought about the joy and anticipation of knowing that 40 is coming to an end and the land of milk and honey is finally within reach.
Even though I have been been much more comfortable than the Israelites, my 40 years have been a wandering of their own as well. God has been leading me to a place I can’t quite see yet, but I know He’s faithful and His plans will never harm me.
Each of the previous decades of my life came with a unique set of challenges and growth. My first decade was childhood and my initiation into the world. My second decade was marked with independence and learning as my eyes were opened to His existence and my place in His creation. My third decade was separation from the life I used to know, a false understanding of the way the world was “supposed” to work, and separation from a God I thought was harsh and unloving. My fourth decade has been reconstruction. Parenting shattered my sense of self, grief continued to sculpt me, and Love remade me.
Two weeks ago, I decided to look at 40 with anticipation, knowing my own personal “milk and honey” is within sight. I know this milk and honey won’t be smooth sailing, of course. Life never is. Someone’s gotta milk the cows and shoo the bees, right? Joshua led the Israelites through many battles in order to conquer the Promised Land. I’m pretty sure God’s got some Jerichos for me to battle and some Jordan Rivers for me to cross. The water’s gonna rise and the walls will tumble down before this journey is over.
I don’t know what those battles look like yet. I don’t know the heartaches and the losses that are mere steps ahead of me. But I do know this: God, my Rescuer and Redeemer, my Lover and my Friend, my Savior, my Prince, my Father, Papa, Abba… HE knows. He cares. And He’s never going to leave me. He has carried me through the wilderness. He has sustained me with His manna. He didn’t give up on me, even when my wandering led me away from Him. He has been patient with me, His disobedient daughter. He has been merciful when I deserved punishment. He listened when I whined, and cried with me when I wept. He never convicted me of the wrongs I made or the hurts I caused and, instead, gently instructed me how to live without causing so much destruction and terror.
The work isn’t finished yet, thank God. There’s still much sculpting to be done and many more lessons to relearn (not just learn, but “re”learn because, apparently, I need a lot of practice before my stubborn head can finally get in step with His rhythm).
I’m no longer wandering. I have a clear purpose and Leader to follow until He takes me home to the eternal Promised Land!
Thank You, God, for seeing me as worthy of saving. Thank you for loving me so much that You didn’t leave me behind. I am grateful that you rehabbed me and restored me. I pray that You will revitalize me and use me to do the same for others. Amen.