Dreams with a long shelf life can light a spark in middle age, or . . . they can become the seedbed for bitterness and regret. Sarah (Old Testament wife of Abraham and matriarch of the Hebrews 11 “faith chapter”) knew well the taste of disappointment and frustrated dreams.

No Bitterness in the Wait — Embracing the Aging Dream

Most of the dreams that carried me forward and burned brightly in young adulthood lost their luster years ago.

My twenty-something self would be mortified at the woman I’ve become.
I can imagine her indignant voice, hand on hip, eyes wide:

“What? No gym membership?”

“How many kids did you say you have?”

“What is this shipwreck you’ve made of our resume?”

But then, for most of us, there is a dream or two that sticks around, still cherished and yet unfulfilled.  It reminds us of its presence with a subtle pressure, like a pebble in the shoe.

Dreams with a long shelf life can light a spark in middle age, or . . . they can become the seedbed for bitterness and regret.  Sarah (Old Testament wife of Abraham and matriarch of the Hebrews 11 “faith chapter”) knew well the taste of disappointment and frustrated dreams. Over and over she heard about The Promise, a major topic of Abraham’s heart-to-heart talks with God:

“The Father of a Great Nation,” God had promised.
“Children as innumerable as the stars in the sky,”

God had spoken, and Sarah had worked hard to believe.

“If Abraham’s the father, that makes me the mother. Doesn’t it? Couldn’t we get started with just one . . .?”

As the years wore down Sarah’s hope and her joints, she may have found remedies to ease arthritis, but nothing took the edge off yearning.

Then one day when Sarah was 90 years old, the promise came once again. Picture an arid landscape. Abraham, now a very old man, is resting in the doorway of his tent to escape the heat of the day. Three men approach, and the gracious old gent hops up to show lavish hospitality, Middle-Eastern style. (Genesis 18:1-16)

Is it possible that Abraham and Sarah recognized one of their visitors as the angel of the Lord? This pre-incarnate embodiment of God the Son carried news that made Sarah’s heart skip a beat as she listened through the tent wall:

“Abraham, when I see you again, your wife, Sarah, will have a son.”

Twenty-four years had passed since this promise was first spoken out loud, and for the first time, Sarah was hearing that her own DNA was also important to its fulfillment. And suddenly there was a time frame on the table! This was all too much for her heart to absorb, and the text goes on to record Sarah’s response there, in the privacy of her tent:

She laughed.

Quietly, she snorted her disbelief in a laugh that carried an embedded sneer. Bitterness had been plowed underground as she wondered if, maybe, she had misunderstood God’s intentions. Gradually, her hope had faded as the years had passed:  empty womb, empty arms, empty promise.

And may I ask, tenderly:

 How long have you been waiting for your dream to materialize? 

While others have moved forward into solid futures that look crazily like the one you’ve imagined, you feel as if, somehow, you’ve been left standing still.

Tired, faith stretched thin, the idea that anything good could happen, that blessing could wash up on your personal shore . . .? Pfffff . . . Snort! Do you feel a cynical chuckle coming on?

Time bound and short-sighted, we need a sinewy faith to stave off bitterness when hope has been bleeding out for years.

Together, let’s join Sarah in pressing an ear against the tent wall to hear God’s words of choosing and commission

Your DNA is needed in this family of God. Press hard against the Tent Wall of Scripture and hear God’s voice today saying that His ultimate plan is for fruitfulness and joy. Soak in the record of prophecy fulfilled, the promises kept, the hand of God at work in stunning intervention, and then read in Psalm 126 about the laughter of dreams fulfilled that follows the tears of sowing seed and long waiting.

Can we trust the God who filled Sarah’s empty womb to fill our empty hearts? He longs to come to your tent, to lock eyes, and to share a meal with you. Listen carefully, and let the smile spread slowly over your incredulous face, for the truth is that He brings good news — and it’s for you.

This post was first shared at God-sized Dreams 


In just a couple of weeks, we will begin what I hope will be a leisurely and joyful read of Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.  The humble bachelor barber of Port William, Kentucky is surrounded by a cast of characters that weave in and out of his story, sharing their wisdom in their turn.  In light of the tragic mayhem of recent days, these words from farmer Athey Keith frame simple truth:  “It might prove out to be that if we can’t live together we can’t live atall.  Did you ever think about that?”

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48 thoughts on “No Bitterness in the Wait — Embracing the Aging Dream”

  1. Michele, this is exactly where I am right now! I’m 35, starting a second career and for the first time in a long while, I have ideas swirling around me faster than I can put legs on them. I’m so thankful that God sees far beyond the date on our birth certificates! Heading over to finish the article now… So happy to have you this week.


    1. It’s great that you’re venturing into a new field. Last summer I went back to work full time after a 22 year hiatus. It was devastating at first. So much had changed, but I certainly learned a lot — mostly about myself. So thankful that God is in no way limited by ANY of the information on our birth certificates!


  2. What a great and encouraging word, Michele!
    Thanks for the reminder to wait without bitterness and in faith!
    Sure am grateful for you~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I seem to cycle through the waiting curriculum with regularity as well. I keep saying that I’m a slow learner, but I’m pretty sure from God’s perspective it looks a lot like sin. Corrie ten Boom is a great heroine for both of us!


  3. At 52, I try not to look at what might have been and focus on all I have and can accomplish now. Most of all I want to be grateful for every life experience that has brought me to this point and hold on to the promises of a great and loving God.


  4. I believe we need to work a little each day to see our dreams get closer…and keep hold of the vision that they were put in our hearts for a reason.

    It’s also really important to remember that our past is not our future. Just because dreams didn’t come true in the past, doesn’t mean they won’t come true.

    Thank you for your beautiful post.



  5. I wasn’t much of a dreamer as a child. But after I came to know the Lord I dreamt of marriage and ministry. The marriage is still here, but the ministry I once dreamed about has been gone now for a few years. I’m still waiting for the birth of a new dream in my heart, for God to direct me to His path of ministry. Blessings!


  6. Oh, do I ever relate to what you said about those long-simmering dreams. How long have I waited to see them come to pass? I can’t even remember. God has been so faithful to make my two dearest dreams come true…my precious husband and our dear, precious son. I praise Him over and over for them. I still have two secondary dreams…yes, the kind that have long-been shelved, but still nag at me incessantly. One is more pressing than the other, but both are still dreams that I cherish and long to see fulfilled. Thinking of Sarah and her long wait is surely hope-filling. Thank you for this encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a timely post for me, Michele. Praying the LORD sparks some of my heartfelt dreams, in these years that most consider, as in-between.

    Bless you!


  8. Michele, your words are so beautifully written and always so inspiring. I continue to share that I am in a season of waiting as I hope in the Lord and believe His promises!


  9. Great perspective and reminder. Bitterness can come so easily if we are not careful…. and a step by step walk w/ the Lord keeping our attitudes correct, can sure help. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s fun to be pursuing an early dream later in life. At times I’ve thought I’m crazy when I hear the youngers in my writing group tell about the years of waiting until their first books were published. I think, “How much longer do I have to wait?” Then I’m reminded that all I’m called to do is be obedient and allow God to do the rest. Let’s keep dreaming together my friend.
    🙂 Patti


  11. It’s always a joy to stop by your blog. Sometimes I regret that I didn’t pursue my passion for writing earlier in my life. I tried several avenues that didn’t quite fit for me–like college journalism. I loved the writing part, but I felt pressured to get interviews in order to meet my deadline. I never thought to relate the Bible story of Sarah to my dream of writing. What an encouragement to be reassured that I can embrace my age and my dream.


    1. And who’s to say that the fulfillment of your dream might have required all the richness of the passage of years in order to become all that God intends? I am always fascinated whenever I try to view time and the unfolding of my days from God’s perspective. One thing’s for sure: not one thing is wasted.


  12. It’s so interesting to me that you are sharing about this. My dad will turn 70 next spring. His parents and my mom’s parents both died young. I don’t know that any reached 70, though I could be wrong. Anyway, my dad’s story (short version!) is that he was an Air Force brat, went to college in Turkey and was studying to convert to Islam after basically being an agnostic. He got a 2-minute gospel presentation probably from a Campus Crusade type person, though he has no idea since he didn’t know the guy and never saw him again. Somehow he received an application to a Christian college here in the states. No one he knew sent it and he did not request it. He attended, met my mom, they married after college, he did a couple years of seminary, they joined a missions agency, had me, went to Africa for a first term. When it came time for furlough, they came home expecting to go back. He got asked to take over a leadership and recruitment position within the US sending base. So we moved back here and I grew up stateside. That position and several other happenings afforded my dad time to travel to share the gospel, to recruit missionaries, to visit new places. Anyway, around age 50 he figured he had done everything he really wanted to in life, but he was in pretty decent health. He used to be a runner, so he ran a couple of marathons in his early to mid-50s. But every 5 or 10 years now, he writes a new “mission statement” and plan for his next years. It’s not that he planned to die at 50 but he had achieved a lot of his dreams. Finances were never great, so he had a few places on his list, but had been to all of them. *All* of that to say that yes, we let go of some dreams, we hold on to others, and then sometimes we even get to plan new ones! I love considering the life of Sarah in terms of waiting expectantly on God and realizing that though we have a word from God (even dreams, desires, goals), they may not turn out like we think they will. It’s fascinating to watch God’s plans unfold in our lives!


    1. What an AMAZING story. You’re so blessed to have that heritage of faith and perseverance! I’m finding in my 50’s that I do have more vision and enthusiasm about the future than I thought I would, and will “wait expectantly” as you say, to see what God has planned in the upcoming decades.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Roseann, for reading and taking time to share. By the way, I’m just returning from a baby shower for my tiny granddaughter who will be born next month, and the name at the top of the list is very close to yours: Rosanna! I’ve loved typing your name today!


  13. I love it when dreams become a reality. I very much dreamt of being the school run mum and so worked hard on my blog to make it a success in the hope that I can work from home. Next Monday I will be dropping Zach at school and I am proud as punch that my dream has become a reality 🙂 Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It is amazing how God works in our lives, and how sometimes our dreams are realised much later than we expect…but they are realised! Thank you so much for sharing this encouragement and your study with us at the Hearth and Soul Link Party, Michele.


  15. You are the first person I’ve ever heard of besides myself who has imaginary conversations with her irate 20-something self! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!


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