Spring is Near! But…Waiting is Hard
It’s drizzling today. But they assure me spring is around the corner. I’m impatient for it. I want to say, Hurry up spring!
We all know three-year-olds can teach us a thing or two about impatience—and on the positive side, they can teach us about persistence too.
The other day, a mom was heard to say: “It took my three-year-old a whole ten minutes to be ‘very angry’ at me this morning. I’m kinda proud of myself.” It made me think how much I can be like a three-year-old when it comes to patience. We, like little ones, live our spiritual lives in the moment, don’t we? Learning that some things turn out for the better if we are just willing to wait is not easy.
God and mothers share this task of teaching our little ones patience. That good things are coming, despite the fact they can’t understand it in the moment. And God, like all good mothers, is not unmoved by the cries of His children. For moms, a child’s cry is as distressing to us as it is to our kids. This is where a three-year-old can teach us about perseverance!
It may surprise you that even Jesus Himself taught His disciples not to give up calling (crying) to your heavenly Father. “And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7 NIV). The trouble with most of us is not that we don’t cry enough—but that we don’t cry out to God.
Jesus told us to watch and pray . . . and keep praying! How many times have we prayed and felt the seconds ticking by . . . the minutes, hours, days . . . how long, oh Lord? It can feel like those awful moments sitting on a crowded, stuffy airplane, strapped in and sitting in silence while we wait on the runway. What’s the hold-up? What do the pilots know that we don’t? What’s happening in the control tower? How lonnnnnng? In our prayers, it’s important to realize we are like the three-year-old crying for help and an answer. It is not wrong to want good things from our Father in heaven; we must ask and not give up.
Take a close look at how the saints in Scripture (particularly in the Psalms) expressed themselves to God. We learn it is not sinful or unreasonable to cry Oh Lord, how long? Have you ever said to God, “Listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint” (Psalm 61:1–2 NIV). Just like the three-year-old who grabs the face of their mommy to get her attention, I have permission from the prayer book of Scripture to say, Oh God, listen to me! It feels like You aren’t paying attention!
Do your prayers ever take on that form of desperation? You have permission for them to.
Have you ever felt like the disciples crying out in desperation while all the forces of nature, the wind and waves, were against them? I have.
Over the years, I have found strength in knowing I’m not alone. I have friends (especially friends in Scripture) who have shown me the way. I take a trip with them. I insert myself in certain passages of Scripture to see and feel what they did so I can learn.
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.“ Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:22–31)
Here is what I have learned in my “fourth watch”:
- I shouldn’t be surprised that there are very difficult days for a follower of Jesus.
- Jesus keeps a watchful eye on me, interceding for me, preserving me, protecting me.
- Why so long? Why the fourth watch before my answer comes? At this time, I’m not given an explanation. The disciples didn’t get one either.
- The ultimate answer to my prayers may initially frighten and confuse me. Who would have thought Jesus would use the terrifying waves as His path to their deliverance?
- Jesus’ love is as sure in the dark night as it is in the daylight. He comes to me in the storm, on the waves, in the darkness. I can trust Him to save me when my faith is weak and I am sinking. His mercy reaches out and lifts me to safety.
- The waiting room is not the end of the story. In time, it will only be a means to usher me into a most powerful encounter with the Lord. It will ultimately result in great deliverance.
What have you learned in your fourth watch? When everything seems to say it will never be spring, don’t believe it!
“Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told you that the night would never end in day?
Who told you that the winter of your discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow and ice and hail to deeper snow and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Don’t you know that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Be full of hope! Hope forever! For God does not fail you. Do you know that God loves you in the midst of all this?
You will yet, midst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time, or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them and works your lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then forever with the Lord, your bliss shall never wane.
Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through . . .
Make the wilderness to blossom like the rose!”
(Excerpts from Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, July 21, evening)