Waiting is hard work. It is blisteringly, back achingly hard work. I wish it was as simple as sitting around with thin mints and a black coffee, watching the chickens go by, but it isn’t. And I wish I was better at this waiting game thing (Why the heck do they call waiting a game anyway? It’s not like it’s fun or even entertaining. It’s more like waiting torture). This is one of those hard lessons in the educational institution that is my life that I just can’t quite seem to grasp. The answers on the test somehow elude me just when I need them most and I cannot seem to study hard enough to get a passing grade. Somehow, I cannot learn seem to learn to wait well.
Oh sure, I can bide my time in line at the grocery when my smartphone is handy. I can manage to entertain my kiddos with sugar laden lollipops while we wait in the car line at preschool pickup, but what I cannot ever seem to do well is wait on God. I want to turn the next page of the chapter of this book so that I can see what God has planned for me, to get started on the next stage, but the page won’t turn. I have to wait. And waiting is hard. It is blisteringly back achingly difficult.
I was thinking about it today, as I started prepping my garden for spring. Technically, it’s still winter. And there is still a heavy danger of frost for another 2 months even though we had summery temps all last week. I cannot wait to get my garden planted, to see the tender shoots breaking through the soil, to taste the warm tomatoes and smell the earthiness of fresh picked carrots. But it isn’t even time to plant much less harvest. If I placed my tender plants out in the garden, they would wither, and freeze, and die. It would all be wasted. And so I have to wait.
Like in the middle of the winter, when everything seems dark, and cold, and endless, I know that spring can only be so many weeks away. But I cannot feel the warmth of the sun or smell the sweet spring breeze. I have to wait. I know it is coming because after winter, spring always comes. And just like in the waiting, I know that God is at work and the next chapter always comes. I just have to wait for it.
But in the waiting, there is so much work to do. I thought about that as I raked straw from the garden this afternoon, hands blistering, back aching raking to remove the excess dead plant material and reveal the damp, meaty soil below. The chickens followed me around, digging around for bugs in the places I had raked, filling their bellies up from all the work I just did while I am waiting for planting time to start. I thought about all of the planning that I needed to do to decide what to grow, and where to grow it, and when to plant it and where. It thought about the friends that came to help us begin construction of our hoop house, and how we all need friends that are willing to pull on their work boots and muck about with us in the mud to help us in our waiting. I thought about the miracles of new life that God would bring about from our preparation, when the time is just right for those tiny seeds to be planted and grow and provide food that fuels our family. And I thought about all of the work I had to do right now during this time of waiting as we all laughed and giggled and chased wayward chickens back to their coop.
Waiting is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes, I think that God is silent when I’m waiting for Him to show me my next move in life. I have asked God to show His plans, to direct my path, to give me a vision or have an angel – or at least a good friend – tell me what to do so that I can get beyond this time of waiting. But angel didn’t knock on my door, the vision didn’t show, and the answer hasn’t come, and I am still just here waiting. Why won’t He answer me? Did I screw it all up and now I have to wait? Is this a spiritual time out? And what is wrong with me, that I am still floundering for His answer – why can’t I just wait to hear His voice at the right time? Where is my faith that God is at work even when it doesn’t seem possible? Why am I in such a rush to be something significant when I know that God can do more in a single word than I can do in a lifetime of homesteading?
But perhaps God is already at work, doing that hard work in me, the blistering, back aching work that needs done to prep my heart to become the fertile soil that is ready to grow and nurture something new; something that will become a miracle. Perhaps in my waiting God is raking away all of that hard deadness in my heart, gladly taking on the blisters of digging out all of the stuff and sin and baggage and wasted time that gets in the way of His work in my life. Perhaps God is prepping me for a new kind of planting and a harvest beyond my wildest imagination; perhaps He is turning me into just the right soil for a special kind of seed that only He can nurture. And just perhaps, I’m not waiting on God so much as I’m waiting on God to do His work in me.
Friend, what are you waiting for?
3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.