As I think this week about what it means to be sojourners and foreigners, I am reminded of the journey of Sarah & Abraham in Genesis and how we often think that a place, that arriving "there" will solve all our problems. It was never meant to be so.
So for those feeling like life hasn't turned out the way they'd hoped, here's some encouragement from my latest book, Waiting for Wonder:
Sometimes, getting where you want to go is not the answer you hoped it would be. Markus Persson, the founder of Minecraft, recently discovered this truth. A year after he sold his company to Microsoft for $2.5 billion, he tweeted, “The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.” Two minutes later, at nearly three in the morning, he followed that tweet with another: “Hanging out in ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I've never felt more isolated.”
I ponder these thoughts as I imagine Sarai’s arrival in the promised land. I consider what it means to finally arrive in the place God has promised and it is not everything dreamed or hoped. “When Jesus calls us, he does not guarantee the future or even tell us what it will be like,” says scholar Kent Hughes when commenting on Genesis 12.
Even when we get there, we can’t kick back, settle in, and assume the hard journey is over. I should know this. After eleven years of trying to having a baby, I finally held my newborn girl in my arms. She was beautiful, with pink cheeks, a head full of soon-to-be-curly hair, perfect little fingers, toes . . . vocal cords. She yelled at the top of her lungs for three nights straight after she was born. Nothing appeased her. She had opinions, and she let them be known. I didn’t sleep for 72 hours.
Having a new baby was not the cream-colored, angels-singing, everything-is-a-picture-perfect-painting that I had envisioned. Now, as a teen, my daughter is still beautiful, fierce, determined, and a reminder of what it really looks like to live in the promises of God.
Sometimes it means you have no rest, no pillow on which to lay your head.
To come to the place God has called us does not mean we’ve arrived at peace, perfection, sweetness and light. It means we are sojourners, we are foreigners. We arrive, but we are still living in tents.
And that’s the way it is meant to be.