I’ve been reading Susie Larson’s Your Beautiful Purpose for the third time in as many years. I keep finding myself drawn back to this book for more encouragement and wisdom, because it’s loaded with it.
One of the things that stuck out to me this time was a list the author made of the promises she’s seen fulfilled over the years – desires God planted in her heart that he eventually brought to fruition.
Oftentimes we tend to focus so much on the promised lands we have yet to see. We have these desires in our hearts and we’re sure they’re from God, but we look around and all we see is the desert we’re currently stuck in. Everything looks dry and barren, day in and day out, and we start to doubt whether there even is a promised land ahead, especially when we’ve been hoping and praying and waiting on those fulfilled promises for a long time.
My single friends and I often feel this way when it comes to marriage, because we – still – don’t see any glimpse of it on the horizon, even after a wait that’s already been longer than expected. And I know it’s not just singles who feel this way. We all have promises buried in our hearts that we have yet to see fulfilled. This in-between season is difficult and often filled with doubt.
Susie Larson offers a helpful perspective for this waiting season. She says this:
Most likely right now you’re standing on some of the land you prayed for (or that someone else prayed for you), or that God simply blessed you with because of His grace and goodness. Maybe it’s your current job, a certain friendship, progress with one of your kids, a new season in your marriage, less stress in finances, a spiritual breakthrough with a neighbor, or the beginnings of a ministry dream come true. Today’s a great day to give thanks for the countless ways God has cared for you with His strong yet gentle hand.
The list of personal “promised lands” Larson shares in her book includes things both big and small, and her list got me thinking. Sure, there are still a number of really big promised lands I have yet to step into. But when I reflect back on seasons past, I can come up with my own list of promised lands God has already delivered me into – both big and small.
One of the seasons that really sticks out to me is the time I spent in college in Florida. I loved the weather there, I loved the beach and Disney World and getting to wear shorts when it was below zero back home…but almost the entire time I was there, I longed to be back in Minnesota. I’m a hometown girl. I missed my family, my house, my dog, my church, Caribou Coffee, and pretty much everything in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Florida was always a temporary home to me, and alllll I wanted to do was get that diploma and move back home.
Which I did! It’s been almost 10 years now, and I totally take it for granted that I’ve been back here for a whole decade. I forget how homesick I got, how I had nobody to call for help when my car broke down, and how lonely it was spending holiday weekends by myself. God brought me into the very promised land I looked forward to for two years, and I forget to appreciate it for the promised land that it is. (Especially come winter, when I tend to whine about how cold it is. 😉)
If I back up even further, Florida was a promised land all its own! As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to visit Disney World. I was obsessed with all things Disney – Disney movies, Disney Channel, Disney princess Barbies, Radio Disney. A trip to Disney was pretty much the end-all for me, but it wasn’t in my family’s budget for several years. I finally got to go when I was in sixth grade, and it fell a little short for me. I was almost a teenager, I was too big to fit into any of the princess dresses by then, I hardly got any character autographs like all my friends had, and even at the mature age of 11 (LOL), I was too scared to go on most of the rides, so I skipped them and then regretted it.
Eight years later, I was enrolled at a college nearby and became a Disney Annual Passholder. I still couldn’t fit in those princess dresses (Ha!), but I spent hours in each park, went on every ride hundreds of times, and even snagged a few autographs. 😉 I was disappointed at my less-than-magical experience as a kid, feeling like I’d missed out, but I’d say God more than made up for it! I’ve been to Disney World countless times since that first trip…and I never thought I’d get a chance to go again!
Those are just two of the promised lands I’ve stepped into.
Here are a few more I thought of:
I didn’t step into any of these promised lands instantaneously. Almost all of them came after years of waiting! And I wasn’t sure I’d ever see any of them. But God is a good God who enjoys giving good gifts to his children. He hears our prayers, he knows the desires of our hearts, and he always has another promised land waiting for us if we keep on walking.
Even if we can’t see it. Even if we don’t know what promised land we’re walking toward.
I hope you are encouraged – and maybe a little convicted (I was, and still am!) by these examples. Your next promised land is ahead – that’s for sure! – and I am just as sure you’ve already stepped into a few of them. Maybe, like me, you’ve neglected to be as appreciative of them as you could’ve been.
So what promised lands has God already brought YOU into? Celebrate them today as you wait to step into the next one!