Read Proverbs 3:5-6
Even though we have probably not had our last snowstorm, my husband already has started tomato, pepper and melon seeds indoors. Some of the stems on the tomato plants are thickening up, and even the ones that needed to be replanted are up and growing. The melons were planted only two days ago, but I must admit that even this morning, I checked to see if any were up. Okay, probably too much hope because I was weaned on "Jack and the Beanstalk". The truth is that it is fun to watch even the slightest growth in the plants, and I have been known to press the tomato leaves between my fingers just to enjoy their pungent fragrance. I like the watching and the anticipating.
Then there is my brother. How unlike me he is. Our difference in this area is the source of family humor. While I savor the beauty of every stage of our growing vegetation, he buys plants that are ready to "rock and roll". He has been known not only to buy big plants that are flowering, but at times there are already tiny tomatoes set on when he plants them in the garden. Of course, he is enjoying tomatoes much earlier than we do, but I tell him, with no effect, that he has missed out on the fun of observing all the stages of the developing plants.
As I was thinking about my enjoyment of the slow but sweet process of gardening, I wondered at how differently I often think of waiting for the Lord to answer prayer. Frequently when I pray, I want the answer to be like my brother's plants. I want to see God's fully developed plan, with the fruit close to being mature and ready to enjoy. Gone from my thinking is the beauty of savoring the process of watching and anticipating, and I wonder why? It shouldn't be because I haven't seen His hand before because I have. It shouldn't be because I don't know His power because I do. He is the One Who’s ability is limitless. Everywhere around me, there are examples of His beautiful handiwork. It can't be that I don't understand His love for me because I know that He bore the punishment for every sin that I have or ever will commit, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Why then do I often find it so difficult to wait for His answer with joy? Our scripture for today may shed light on at least a part of the answer: Proverbs 3:5-6. We love it. I love it. Yet, though the ideas aren't difficult to understand, I often find myself forgetting to live by their sweet and powerful truth.
1. Trust in the Lord with all my heart. We turn our eternity over to His care, resting in the promise that when we place our trust in what He has done for us, we will have eternal life with Him. We need to exercise that same trust when we're talking about looking to Him and waiting for His answer to our prayer. We must turn over the need to Him. Perhaps an example of that in a different kind of circumstance could be helpful. Soon after we purchased our computer, it was rendered inoperable by some malicious computer virus. Thankfully, we were able to have it fixed remotely. That involved allowing the technicians access to it. They had control, and we trusted that they had the expertise to fix the problem. That meant we took our hands off the computer and waited for them to act. I didn't fret while they were working even though I didn't understand what they were doing. I had heard that they were reliable, and they did do a good job. So, to trust God with all my heart, I need to remember not only what He has done for me but also how He has worked in the lives of other people who have tasted His goodness, Psalm 34:8. He does not need my assistance. I need His, and that entails taking my hands off until He shows me something I should do. He has said that He is ever present to help, Psalm 46:1.
2. Don't lean on my own understanding. It is difficult not to do that, isn't it? Often when we pray, we have a thought of how God might work. But there is a problem. He often seems to be working in a completely different direction than the one we had in mind for Him. Is it only me or does anyone else discover that God often seems to take the long way around as He is answering prayer? He did that when He brought the children of Israel by a longer way as they traveled, Exodus 13:17. In their case, He explained why, but He doesn't always do that for us, does He? When His delays don't make sense to us, and it seems to be taking way longer for a request to be answered, we can easily default back to leaning on our own understanding. It is funny. When the computer technicians were jumping remotely from file to file, I never tried to analyze how they were working on the problem. When I went by the computer, I could hear it scanning from place to place and all kinds of names of things that made no sense to me. Yet, I wasn't frustrated by it because I knew they were at work. I need to remember that with God. He is at work to bring honor to His Name and to do good on my behalf, Romans 8:28. I know even as I type this sentence, it is tempting to ask how that could happen. The truth is that I don't know, but when that thought comes, I need to return to the truth that God's wisdom is unfathomable, Romans 11:33-36.
Lord, help us to rest and rely more and more on You. Also, please help us to anticipate and even enjoy all we see of Your ways, as we wait for You to answer our prayers.
Next week, part two of Worth the Wait?