Words for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want
Though you forfeit seeing the Northern Lights, there’s another reason June is the best time of year to visit Iceland: Midnight Sun.
“Sunset” in Iceland this time of year basically means the sky turns cotton-candy for about three hours in the middle of the night before returning to daylight—and it’s breathtaking. At first sight of those bright pink brushstrokes painted across the sky, you don’t think it could possibly get anymore beautiful. But somehow, every time you look back it’s burning brighter, all colors of the rainbow lingering like a kaleidoscope in the sky, until slowly, it gives way to sunrise.
The beauty of the 24-hour sunlight is that it releases you from the time constraint of needing to make it to a given destination before it gets dark outside—which certainly came in handy when a car rental hiccup the night we landed in Reykjavík, the big city, forced us to start our first day at 12 noon. You can read the full story here but essentially, due to a miscommunication and a lot of back and forth, we didn’t make it to our Airbnb until five in the morning, and having already been awake over 30 hours thanks to transatlantic travels, we knew we needed to squeeze in at least seven hours if we wanted to enjoy the rest of the day.
I’m glad we slept. We didn’t know it at the time, but when we pulled out of our driveway, we wouldn’t return until a good 18 hours later.
What ensued in that time was quite possibly the coolest day I have ever lived—one that will get a whole post devoted to it soon—but for now, I want to focus on one specific part of the day, and something God so clearly spoke to me in it.
Our plan for the day was to make the two hour drive from Reykjavík to Vík, stopping at waterfalls and other scenic wonders strung along that stretch of road, then another two hours to Jökulsárlón to see the famous glacier lagoon.
What should have been a four hour journey one way ended up being almost double, because we kept pulling off to take in the views—but that was the point. Plus, with only physical maps and spotty GPS on our phones, but no wifi, we had to take it slow to ensure we stayed on track.
This worked for the most part, until we guessed wrong at a roundabout and ended up off the beaten path. In Iceland though, there is no such thing as a wrong turn. Everywhere you look is beauty waiting to be discovered.
What we discovered was absolutely magical. Kleifar Waterfall was different than any of the waterfalls we’d seen, and we hadn’t come across it on any of the travel blogs we scoured in the Pinterest stages of planning. It was a hidden wonder.
At this point, it was just after 10pm and the pink sky was in full effect, so we climbed up a hill to the right of the waterfall to get a better view. Many moments in Iceland felt unreal—this was one of them. I was absolutely giddy. Lush green cliffs spewing water to my left and a glorious sunset to my right, I was left to frolic the fields of our own private little hill while our friend’s drone buzzed overhead, capturing it all.
In another situation, I might have been worried—that we would run out of daylight and miss our chance to see Jökulsárlón. But there it was again—24-hour sunlight, giving us no need to rush. It released me to be present and enjoy.
Right there, it hit me.
Life has it’s own Jökulsárlón’s—the big, famous destinations everyone wants to make it to. The Jökulsárlón in my season of life? Marriage.
The fact that I’ve given three maid of honor toasts should tell you that many of the people closest to me are married, and now even baby showers are starting to show up on my calendar. Honestly, sometimes it’s hard. I go on dates and try to keep an open mind, but at the end of the day you can’t control God’s timing.
Sometimes I feel like I’m sitting there watching all these cars go zooming by, meanwhile I keep running into detours and I can’t seem to get the directions straight and I’m questioning whether I’ll ever make it there.
Many times, I’ve wondered why God hasn’t yet answered this prayer. More than once, I’ve gotten frustrated with Him because of it.
But as I sat there on a hilltop in Iceland surrounded by breathtaking beauty, more joy pouring into me than I could possibly contain, God whispered into my heart with a voice that was unmistakably His:
I’m not keeping you from the good stuff. I’ll get you to Jökulsárlón. But Jökulsárlón isn't the only good stuff. I have so much more for you. You’ll get to see the big sights everyone is talking about. But before I take you there, I want to take you—just you and I—to see some tucked away treasures not everyone gets to see.
My heart was overwhelmed. In that moment I felt God’s love for me so tangibly, so fiercely, so personally.
God wasn’t withholding from me the good stuff; He was orchestrating for me an abundance of the best stuff that I never could have dreamed up on my own.
Each of us has something we’re waiting for—graduation, a relationship, financial stability, finally making it through our toddler’s terrible two’s, the list goes on. We long for that point on the horizon, and we feel like it will all be okay when we finally get there. We hope and we pray until it hurts to hope anymore. When things don’t change, we start to feel like how things are now is how they have always been, and how they will always be. The longer we wait, the less we believe things can change—the less we believe we’ll ever make it to Jökulsárlón. We start to think maybe we’ll miss it.
But the truth is, in God’s economy there’s 24-hours of sunlight—we never have to worry we’re going to run out of time and miss the good stuff.
I don’t know what Jökulsárlón is for you, but I do know this: Where God has you now isn’t some cheap knock-off of the good stuff, it is the good stuff. It’s a secret hideaway with a God who wants to woo you with hidden waterfalls and cotton-candy skies. He wants to go over-the-top for you, because He thinks you’re worth it.
We see detours, but God never gives less than. He simply absolutely refuses to give anything less than His best—even if you’re kicking and screaming the whole way there. Where God has you—in that waiting room, in that space of uncertainty, in that completely dependency—is a hidden wonder that no one else has experienced in the exact same way you are right now. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, it’s a treasure, because it’s a portal to experience more of Him. It’s the place where He carefully shapes you. Soak it up. Because the work God is doing right here in your hidden wonder, is exactly what you’ll bring with you to the place “everyone else is going”—and it’s what will be needed of you when you get there.
Kleifar Waterfall ended up being one of our highlights in Iceland but the irony is, we likely wouldn’t have seen it if our car rental hiccup didn’t happen. Even if we did, it wouldn’t have been perfectly timed against a pink sunset—my own personal love language. And you know what? I’m starting to think that’s why the hiccup happened. God needed to frustrate my plans enough for me to step outside of them, so I wouldn’t miss the things He had planned for me.
Life is so much better that way—when we let go of our need to control and predict and simply walk in step with Him, hearts satisfied in His presence and eyes peeled to see the treasures He has tucked away on our unique path.
When God doesn’t give you what you want, and you’re worried you might miss out, here’s some words to hang onto: We aren’t working with the finite here, we’re working with the Infinite. This means that even when the math doesn’t add up on our timelines, we can trust the One who created time and stands outside of it. It means that with Jesus, even when we think we missed out on something, we can trust that just like Iceland’s midnight sunsets, our brightest moments are always ahead.