I hate to wait.
I don’t mind the three to five minute congested pause in the Starbucks line. Cause while I’m standing there waiting the deep aroma of brewed beans and sweets treats invite my nose to breath in the smell of morning.
This type of waiting is inviting. You can see the line moving forward. People grabbing their personalized drinks at pretty counters and walking happy out doors with a pep in their step. With each “…have a nice day”, you know your time to be served lavishly is almost near and you too will be soon satisfied. On the rare occasion there is a hiccup in your order, or long-line-stalled, your drink is free and the “next one on us” card is given.
I know how to cheat when waiting.
When I’m reading a really good book and the author is taking too long to resolve the climax of the story, I sure do…. ummhmmm… skip all the way to the end, finish that baby and sneak back, right where I left off -acting as if I never left a page. (Tell me I’m not the only one. LOL. You too?)
Waiting also has the power (if you let it) to shut you down.
Like when I had to wait two weeks on the results of a suspicious growth forming in my belly, the waiting froze me. Sitting 14 days with the possible prognosis of cancer froze my heart and my mind. I felt stuck between -hope for tomorrow and regrets of my yesterday.
Which left each new “today”, pass in slow motion, numbing-time, left to tick, leaving no strength to grab hold of the “right now”. In all my efforts to “get myself together” and “suck it up Girlfriend”-I could only pull up….nothing.
I couldn’t move forward because I didn’t know what was ahead. So I just stopped, held my breath and prayed that the days would just hurry up and pass. Pass without my involvement, my opinion, my presence-just pass.
And to be honest, that’s where I’ve been the last few weeks because waiting hurts.
Yesterday the wind was so cold it hurt your face on impact. Picking my daughter up from school I tried to brace her for the cold.
“Mommy wants you to tie this scarf around you to protect the cold air from getting too close.”
She tied it around in loops like she normally does.
“No honey this cold is stronger, I need you to tie the scarf around your nose and mouth.”
She laughed and followed my instruction, but all giggles ceased, the moment the wind slapped her hard in the face.
“Come on Nya, honey you have to keep moving.” I called out firmly.
She took one more step and froze.
“Nya you gotta keep going..” I Momma-sing-songed.
“No, Momma it’s too cold!” She cried out.
And I heard the spirit gently speak, …that’s you, your stuck again.
Been so frozen with the shock of losing my job, sting of tight budget and large bills, teens growing faster than I wanted, pained distance from my very, very best friends, weary of Momma taxi service and laundry piled high, ache of a dream not yet realized, fear from a soul weaker than I thought-yeah I took one step into my current winter storm and stopped.
Waiting produces deeper growth.
I’m looking out my window and the wind is beating down hard on vulnerable barren branches. It seems cruel, unfair and I feel sorry for the tree in my backyard. At the same time, the sun is shining brightly, direct beams of yellow hit on green buds. Buds of promise, too green to open- they are small, but they are there. And that’s me too.
I too, am halfway through seasons. Fall has come and gone. Gifts of colorful defined offerings of who I use to be, what I use to do, where I use to go are now all raked up, bagged and disposed. Memories of yesterdays walled in frames, etched in heart-leave me full, but still missing.
I too stand alone, in the crisp cold, like these branches arms lifted, waiting for “the change” to happen. At first I thought it was up to me. Thought I was in control of the development of my progress. I know now that the branch can not prune itself, it is too close to stand at a distance and cut away objectively-shape it’s oneself into formation. Not if the Master has a design in mind-and He does, He really does.
Ephesians 1: 11-12
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
So how can that branch stand there in the blistering blast of winter chill with no answers.
How can you too stand exposed with broken heart, cancer survived, child runaway and using. How can you stand through lean cabinets, broken government, dreams fallen, business vanished?
“Where are you God?”
“Did I get it wrong?”
“Have you forgotten about me.”
These are the questions I throw up at God, with fist clenched beating at the wind. When I see storms in their full glory I want to know why.
But that’s not what I see in this tree. No demands, just acceptance. Not in a hung-down defeat but instead a sweet, sweet surrender.
I see open-wide abandon to clear blue skies and it humbles me. Makes me want to shut my mouth, erase journal entries and take back last weeks prayer request- cause once again I almost missed it.
If this tree could talk, I think it would say…
“Winter is not death, but deeper life. There are pauses in the wind storm. I trust that the One who created the strength living inside me and the force sent to test me, will deepen roots and develop growth I can not see. Do you? Because deep down, underneath dull winter skin what you cannot see is quiet revival that only comes in winters. New leaves, new life are only reproduced in seasons of rest and restoration. I can’t bloom from last years seasons and neither can you.
I wait not with resentment or bitterness, not with feelings of abandoned-but with a knowing and a wonder. I know that before I blossom beauty for other’s to once again see, I must first do the hard work of remaining still. Still enough for Him to strengthen weak branches, able to hold new life He wants to give. Still enough to replenish dry places and revive spots that appear dead to your eyes. And yes, still enough to prune, cut- free branches, I may want to hold on to but ones He needs- so that I will completely trust him again with my whole new life. This is the reason for your winter.”
Today, this is what my tree spoke to me.