I hate New Mexico.
Sorry if you live there. But if ever there was an appropriate time for me to pull out the good ol “I just can’t even,” this might be it.
A few years ago I was traveling from Texas to Washington. New Mexico was part of that journey, and it felt like the absolute longest part EVER. If you’ve never driven through New Mexico, let me paint a picture for you…
…Nothing…and more nothing. Hours and hours of nothing. Just dry, dead, desolate nothing. You can see for miles and miles! And what do you see? Miles and miles of nothing. Civilization does not seem to exist and the desert does not seem to believe there could ever be a need for bathroom breaks, gas stops, or the most important road trip necessity, FOOD.
It was cool to see that part of the country for the first half hour (maybe). But then it just got old. No scenic view to watch out the window as we drove. Nothing changed for hours. It was hot and uncomfortable. And I just remember thinking we were never going to get there.
What made it worse was my impatience to reach our destination. I had never been to Washington, but I had heard it compared to the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey, beautiful and perfect in every way. I couldn’t wait to get there, to see it, to experience it.
If I could just get out of the damn desert.
Lately, life has felt a lot like that long, uneventful, uncomfortable journey through New Mexico. When people ask “what’s new?” my response is always “nothing.” I see life stretch out before me in a panorama of endless possibilities…but I can’t see squat. I know there must be something more out there, but from my seat on the ride, all I see is more of the same old, same old.
At first, something about the great unknown felt exciting…exhilarating…free. But now…now I’m waaay over it. The ride has been too long and I’m uncomfortable. I’ve been the annoying child in the back seat asking my Father for the hundredth time, “Are we there yet??” I’m ready for the view to change. I want to see my Promised Land.
But here’s the kicker…I have no idea what that is. Like Washington, I’ve heard it’s great. I believe the Lord has called me to something bigger and better and more beautiful than I have ever dreamed. He has promised a much greater passion and purpose for my life, and I know He’s leading me there. But the details are a complete mystery. So sometimes it feels like I’m just wandering aimlessly through the desert, my destination so far off.
But on that trip to the Pacific Northwest, the scenery eventually changed. The view out my window gradually transitioned to something greener and brighter. This “Promised Land” I’d been waiting for didn’t seem so far off anymore, and the desert in my rearview mirror, it turns out, wasn’t so endless after all.
In the wilderness, the journey seems long. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s only a short part of the trip. And if you only knew what waits further down the road, it wouldn’t seem so bad. Sometimes the desert is a necessary part of the journey. We may not like it. But we can be sure that God has promised more. The desert isn’t the destination; it’s just part of the route to get there.
Everyone’s wilderness looks a little different. For me, it looks a lot like New Mexico. But for someone else, it may look like the Amazon jungle, teeming with dangerous predators and easy to get lost in. For others, Mount Everest, complete with treacherous cliffs and long, hard, uphill battles. Or maybe it’s the Dead Sea, the lowest point, where life itself seems impossible. My wilderness may not be your wilderness. But we’re all searching for the same thing, our own Promised Land, a place where hope lives, and passion and purpose are in full bloom.
Once we get there, we may find that we start the cycle all over again, wandering through a whole new wilderness, discovering God’s promises and plans are never ending…there’s even more to see…more to experience. And I think somehow we will appreciate those promises all the more because of our time spent in the wilderness.