I didn’t see it until late that evening; long after his little head had hit the pillow. “What is this?” I fingered the cover, adorned in truck stickers. “You didn’t see that? He made it at camp.” My husband smiled. I read the crooked letters that he’d just learned to put together the week before. “Zeke”. I opened it to the first page to find a heart and a note. “I love you Mom. I made this heart for you.” I could picture his teacher, bending on a knee next to my boy to help him with the letters.
The next morning when he woke, he went straight to the notebook. “Oh Mom, I need to write in my journey.”
I smiled and turned my head slightly. “Your what?”
I went to correct him, to teach him the meaning of “Journal”, then I stopped; thinking his title to be more fitting. He pulled a marker out and began stringing together a sequence of letters. In the following days, he would repeat this practice every morning when he woke, and every night before he went to bed. I would offer to help him with words. “No, I can just write whatever letters.” He’d kindly reply, not taking his eyes off the page. “Ok, that’s enough for today.” He would declare before setting the book carefully on his desk, and running off to play with his brother.
I think of this now, each time I open my own leather-bound collection of thoughts, or come to this tiny corner of the internet where we’ve recorded and shared a small smattering of our stories. These are the places I come to write our journey. I look back over the span of our parenthood and I see the big moves, even bigger fears, great triumphs, and magnificent failures that make up our journey. And I am so thankful to have it written down.
This week I read of another journey. One of 2 million sojourners dragging their feet through a dry land. “The people became impatient with the journey.” Impatient. I read the it and dig deeper to its roots. In its truest form—curtailed. Cut short. Cheated.
They felt ripped-off.
When have I felt ripped-off along my own journey? When have I come with pencil to that paper, and written of great discouragement and letdown? “And the people spoke against God and Moses.” Tummies grumbling, lips parched, hearts hardened, they threw up their arms and tossed in the towel. Why have you even brought us here? Clearly the hopelessness of their recent slavery had slipped their minds, or any thought of the Promised Land that laid ahead. They could only see what was in front of them, dust and discontent.
“There is no food or water, and we loathe this miserable food.” I have to read it twice to make sure this is what they actually said. There is no food….we hate this food. I picture a child complaining of nothing to eat, while standing in a kitchen full of food. I wonder how many times I have stood in the midst of God’s provision, and complained against Him because His gifts do not look like what I had asked for.
A few days later I read of another sojourner. He sits on the edge of a well, wearied. Who wouldn’t be, after stepping into a new job, and facing immediate accusations and allegations? He’s come for water. A woman approaches, empty bucket in hand. She nears the well, and He startles her with His words. “Give Me a drink.” She looks at Him perplexed. People of her kind and people of His kind, they didn’t associate. I can see Him looking deep into her eyes, making certain that she catches this next part. “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
He came wearied. She came empty. Both came for water. But only Living Water would quench. And I wonder, how many times do I come with my empty bucket, looking to fill it with something that will never quench—something that will never satisfy?
I see these fellow sojourners. A group of grumpy travelers rebelling in their discontent. And the Son of God who took on flesh and suffered the marks of humanity—tired and weary. Much like me on my own journey.
And this is when I pray. I pray that every time I sit to write in my journey, that it will tell the story of girl sojourning with a heart of gratitude, always seeking Living Water. I pray that mine will be a story of giving thanks, even when the provisions are not exactly what I had pictured. And I pray that when my journey grows wearisome and I come to the well, that I will fill up only on that which satisfies for the long haul.
What about you? Your journey is taking on new words today. Everyday our stories go on creating new plots; taking us through dry lands and to wells of water. And how our stories look in the end, when all is said and done, depends so very much on our responses in the desert and at the well.
So let’s write our journeys well today.