The Middle of the Wilderness

In the dreaded five minutes of saying hello to my neighbor every Sunday, I know we’ll come to a point where I’ll be asked the questions, “What brought you here? Why did you move?” I give them the one second answer to why we uprooted our lives in Las Vegas to move back to Southern California: “To be with family” or “Because we felt God calling us to.” Both answers are true but too simplified. The say-hello-to-your-neighbor time isn’t meant for going deep into real life, but I wish I could tell them the transition has been rough. I wish I could tell them that though we’ve been back for ten months already, it still feels like we’re in transition. I wish I could tell them that tilling grooves that keep shifting is exhausting and that wandering without knowing which way is which is disorienting.

We’re in our mid-thirties with two kids. We’re living with parents while others our age are buying homes and storing away for retirement 30 years down the road or less. We left a home, mild traffic (this is something when Southern California traffic can be hell on earth), and good insurance. We moved back home with the excitement of God doing new things in our lives and a willingness to follow Him wherever He leads us. But the novelty of change soon became dull, and we entered into the long in-between.

God was kind enough to tell me the purpose of this time beforehand— for sanctification, character development, faith growth— but the reality of learning those things is painful and mundane. I wasn’t ready for the dismantling of my identity and the shattering of who I am, of who we are. It almost feels hopeless we’ll ever be put back together again.

I wasn’t ready for the dismantling of my identity and the shattering of who I am, of who we are.

Yet it seems like we’re just at the beginning of this wilderness season.

My husband holds cooking and I hold writing as gifts we’ve been given, but we have no vision for how to use them. No idea of how we should proceed, how we should invest, how we should plan. We only know that faithfulness holds weight in God’s kingdom so he cooks in the kitchen and I type words on our computer hoping and trusting it will one day lead to something more concrete.

I often think of the Israelites and their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. I imagine a mom of two young kids and what her life would’ve been like. Surely her days were as mundane as mine. Surely she wondered when the pillar of cloud was going to move again and felt anxious about it. Surely she was annoyed when the pillar of fire started to move at night. The kids are sleeping for goodness’ sake! Surely she must’ve been sick and tired of traveling and pitching her tent and never knowing when the end was coming. Surely she must’ve doubted whether the Promised Land was real or not, and if it wasn’t, what would that say about their God— was He real? Did He mean what He said?

I am her and she is me. We’re in the in-between, the middle, the rarely talked about part of the journey, and we long for answers to the question marks that hang over our heads. But we’ve come too far to go back. We know the only way is to keep going, to move forward, and to wait with hope.

There’s nothing permanent about being in the middle of the wilderness. I keep going because I have to, because staying in the desert means certain death but following Him leads to life.

And though we’re in solidarity with one another, I know how her story turned out. God dropped manna every day, He gave her meat from the sky and water from a rock, and He was gracious over and over again. She and her people were able to keep going because He was faithful, because He reminded them of His promises when they forgot, because He persevered them to the end.

There’s nothing permanent about being in the middle of the wilderness. I keep going because I have to, because staying in the desert means certain death but following Him leads to life. I pitch my figurative tent in this middle I’m in and wait for His signal to move to the next place. The middle isn’t forever, and He’s promised to be with me and go ahead of me. He did it for her, and I know He’ll do it for me. 

Grace Cho

Grace Cho

Writer at Grace P. Cho
Grace is a writer, wife to a chef husband, and mama to two littles. She is learning to love what must be done in the mundane rhythms of life, and her favorite way to connect with people is to gather them around the table and fill their bellies with good eats and their souls with words of truth. Writing has become her way of worshiping God and leading others, and she hopes people will feel welcome not only in her home but also in the places she writes for online. Aside from The Mudroom, she is the managing editor at GraceTable, and she writes on her own blog at You can follow her on Instagram for glimpses of her everyday life.
Grace Cho

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  • Love to you, my friend. I lived in that place a long, long time. I feel like I am at the end of the wilderness (but still in it). The end feels endless still though, keep questioning if that is really the promised end of just a mirage up ahead I tricked myself into seeing. But oh, the sweet things he’s given me in the wilderness. Praying you taste sweet manna today until you get to the land of milk and honey.

    • Thank you for reminding of that imagery- the land of milk and honey. Yes, I’m tasting sweet manna bit by bit, and I’m hoping He does all the work He needs to do while I’m here. Praying that you can hold on as you keep going!!

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  • I love your solidarity with that Israelite woman in the wilderness. We forget that they did not just stumble into the in-between. They were led there by God, and I’m thankful that you are able to see God’s leading in your own wilderness days.