Wesley and Buttercup.
The two main characters in one of my top 5 favorite movies, “The Princess Bride.” It’s pretty much a fairy tale, with some characters I would describe as colorful and not “goody-goody.” There are some pretty evil folk living in Wesley and Buttercup’s world, who manipulate and abuse them, endeavor to keep them off-track and unsuccessful at fulfilling their main goal – to be together. Yet, at all costs, they fight the odds to achieve their dream. Wesley makes a promise to her that he will always come for her. Always. Not sometime, or half of the time, or only if it’s a leap year, or when there is a full moon, but…ALWAYS. Now, we know the surety of promise fulfillment is contingent on who actually MAKES the promise. Wesley’s promise is not as rock solid of a promise as Matthew 28:20 or Deuteronomy 31:6, but I digress and you get the picture anyway. Their quest brings them to the Fire Swamp and they have to make it through in order to escape capture by Prince Humperdinck (what a name).
The Fire Swamp is a perilous place and renowned throughout the kingdom for having super-sized rodents, “lightening sand” (quicksand) and pockets of earth that sprout flame. Wesley is confident they will make it through safely because they are facing it together; Buttercup, however, isn’t quite so sure. I liken the Fire Swamp to our own personal wilderness, whatever it may be. Sometimes we find ourselves in one or headed to one as a result of our own choices. Sometimes we look around and find ourselves in the heart of the wilderness, through no fault or action of our own. It doesn’t matter which road led you, but the dark, dry, desolate, discouraging, despairing atmosphere of the wilderness is undeniable. You open your mouth to speak to these “dry bones” around you (Ezekiel 37), being obedient to “…call[eth] those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17), and you see nothing change. So you live a little while longer in the wilderness. On the days you get frustrated and angry about being there, you find yourself, maybe even feel yourself, drifting, losing your connection to the Vine. Then the thoughts come, coupled with the internal questions because after all “why am I still here? I thought I only had to suffer for a little while (1 Peter 5:10)? Is this what being loved looks like (Jeremiah 31:3)?
I know many people feel like they cannot question God. They believe it blasphemy to even dare. But my God isn’t scared of my questions. He knows I’m a thinker because He made me that way. He knows I need to sit with things, study them, research them, see why it went down the way it did. Some days He will indulge me (Psalms 103:13-14). Some days He reminds me He is God (Psalms 100:3), and who am I to question? (Job 38:4). Either way, He is with me in my wilderness. When I drift, His spirit draws me back with compassion. When I believe and speak His truth, He illuminates the path before me so I can walk out of the wilderness. The Bible tells us that the Word became flesh (John 1:14). In my minds’ eye, I can picture the physical being of Jesus leading us out of any wilderness we may find ourselves in. He is in front of us, looking back with His hand extended, lightly holding our fingertips, guiding you and I away from our Fire Swamp (Psalm 31:3).
P.S.—Wesley and Buttercup made it through and were troubled no more by Prince Humperdinck. They lived happily ever after…duh, it IS a fairy tale you know.