My thing is arrivals. Departures are fine, but I want to get where I'm going - now. Impatient? Uh-huh. And excited. Slowly I am learning that half the joy of arriving is in the planning and the journey. Yet, for me, the greatest kick in a venture is spotting my destination. Land ho!
When I was a child, I went on vacations with my family, and before my dad could even pull out of the driveway, I was stretched out in the backseat on a makeshift feather bed draped across the floorboard (no seat belts in those days). I buried my head inside a stack of comic books (Little Lulu, Archie, and Huey Duey, and Louie great literary mind I had) until I read myself asleep. I did this so I could shorten the transit and get right to the arrival. My mom would try coaxing me, "Patsy, you're missing everything staying down there. Look at the mountains, trees, lakes, people, and houses." But the only times I surfaced were to smell the gasoline (Is that legal?) as Dad pumped our tank full and to fill my tank with hamburgers, milk shakes, and potato chips (a true connoisseur).
What would I have done if I had been in Moses' caravan? Yikes! Forty years reading Beetle Bailey between the humps of a camel? Nah, it wouldn't have worked. Besided, camels spit. Yuck. they may be the ships of the desert, but let one glob of fluid from their loose lips land on me and I'd be sinking that craft.
If I had left Egypt when I was a kid and didn't arrive in the Promised Land until I was middle-aged, imagine how many times, with my hurry-up personality, I would have said, "Are we there yet?" I'm sure Moses would have relegated me to the back of the sandal parade to bleat with the sheep and therefore miss the first "Land ho!" sighting.
Promised Land - what a handle of hope. Perhaps that is why spotting our destination buoys our spirits. We think each new location may contain all that we've been waiting for, hoping for, and dreaming of - a land flowing with milk and honey.
The Isrealites didn't leave Egypt and instantly arrive in Canaan. In fact, the Lord sent them the scenic route. Scenic? Oh, I know it was the barren wilderness, but think of what they saw and heard along the way - the parting of the Red Sea, manna falling like rain, rock-gushing streams, victories against troubling factions, fire by night, the thunderous voice of God, and so on. They witnessed the miraculous. Who would have wanted to miss that?
Actually, even with all my attempts to arrive speedily, it has been the things I've seen, heard, and experienced along my life journey that have been faith producing. Why, it was in the wilderness years, when I was an agoraphobic, that I witnessed the Lord's deliverance up close and personal. During those years I was aware of his hand parting my fears, of his nurturing provision for my shriveled soul, of his refreshment for my parched existence, of his direction for my wayward feet, and of his voice counseling my confused heart. It was quite literally miraculous, and as long and as hard as those years were, I would not have wanted to miss what I experienced of God.
~ Jehovah God, how gracious of you to follow us down into the valley, up onto the precipice, through raging rivers, and across the desert floor. How divinely comforting to know that we cannot wander outside of your jurisdiction, that we cannot experience need beyond your ability to provide, and that you, a holy God, are on speaking terms with us. Help us not to be so focused on our plans that we miss your way or so distracted that we are unaware of the miraculous. Thank you for the promise that one blessed day we will arrive (Land ho!) in Glory, the forever land of milk and honey, where sin will no longer distort us or sully our view of you. Amen.