Grace in the Wilderness

Yesterday, Joan and I decided to indulge ourselves.

Nothing big, really. Just a quick drop-in to one of our favorite neighborhood ice cream places to get a sweet treat. 

You see, I had just come out of my dermatologist’s office where a sizable chunk of my back had been carved out with the medical version of a melon-baller. I had one of those skin things that goes hand-in-hand with aging and poor sunscreen behavior as a youth. 

[We now interrupt this blog post for an important PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Get your annual derm check, people! Don’t ignore the largest organ in your body!!]

Since I hadn’t cried or shouted out in pain, an ice cream reward seemed to be in order. So, off we headed to the Dairy Delight. As we drove, I was mentally shuffling through their menu items, trying to decide between a hot fudge sundae, a banana milkshake, or a simple, understated cone.

I could almost taste the creamy sweetness as our car drew nearer.

Imagine then my stunned disappointment when we pulled into the empty parking lot and saw the large sign that read, “CLOSED FOR THE SEASON.”

“Nooooo!” I cried in anguish, deferred tears streaming down my face. “How could you DO this to me! I was a good boy at the doctor’s office and I really, REALLY wanted some ice cream! You CAN’T be closed!!”

But they were. 

And no amount of wailing and moaning was going to alter that fact. 

 “It’s OK,” Joan said as she soothingly patted my knee. “We’ll go to a McDonald’s or Dairy Queen or somewhere else.” 

But I wanted THAT place. With THOSE things. And I wanted them RIGHT THEN!

And try as I might, for the rest of that afternoon, I allowed myself to expend most of my psychic energy spewing and sputtering in an epic puddle of disappointment over the rude and untimely closing of the Dairy Delight. 

I am sure most of you are WAAAAY too mature to fuss and fume over something as trivial as a closed ice cream store… But let me ask; have you ever done anything similar?

  • Have you ever consciously chosen to become STUCK in the past?
  • Have you ever WALLOWED in self-pity about a plan that didn’t work out?
  • Have you ever allowed disappointment to blind you to God’s extravagant outpouring of blessing or to the wonders of the world all around you?
  • Have you ever FORGOTTEN that great wisdom of Mick, Keith, Charley, et al, who reminded us in song that, “You can’t always get what you want… but if you try sometimes, you just might find… you get what you need”?
  • Well, HAVE YOU?

I certainly have. Sadly, way more than once. 

If you and I allow ourselves a moment of brutal honesty, we cannot avoid the fact that shortcomings and disappointments are more often the RULE rather than the EXCEPTION in life; to wit…

  • … the best professional baseball players fail to hit safely in two out of three attempts. 
  • … the best running backs in football are stopped short of the goal in 99% of their running attempts.
  • … the best books ever written are only ever read by a handful of people. 

And yet God says to us, just as God once said to the flailing, failing children of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah… those very same Israelites who disappointed God over and over again… “Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away.  I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:2-4, NRSV)

Whatever the nature of YOUR particular wilderness today (unless, of course it is something as trivial as a closed-down ice cream store), may you find God’s grace and mercy RIGHT THERE. 

Abundant blessings;

4 Responses to “Grace in the Wilderness”

  1. 1 Linda Lee/Lady Quixote
    December 5, 2020 at 2:00 am

    Great post!

    But now I want ice cream…

  2. December 5, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    Expectations make all the difference. I’ve become wary of getting too “psyched up” for something, for that very reason.

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