How long?

The last day of school has finally arrived and the children are anxiously anticipating our awards program. Even though I have set the movable hands on the demonstration clock at the front of the room to 12:15 one little guy continues to ask, “How long ’til awards, Mrs. Gatts?”

After answering him multiple times throughout the morning I finally point to the clock and say, “What does the clock say?”

He screws up his face in concentration.

“3:00?’

“Try again. The little hand points toward the hour. The big hand tells how many minutes past.”

“Three after twelve?”

I sigh. Great. It’s the last day of school and he still doesn’t know how to tell time. Trying to maintain a happy heart I muster a smile.

“It’s 12:15,”  I tell him.

He smiles back.

“But how long ’till awards?”

This time I can’t help but chuckle.

“I tell you what, darlin’, ” I say. “When it’s time, I’ll tell you to line up. I promise I won’t let you miss it.”

His freckled nose crinkles up as he grins. “O.K.,” he says.

I get it.

Waiting is hard work. And not just for little boys. It’s hard for us big kids, too. It feels unnatural and uncomfortable.

“How long, O LORD?” I cry out. “How long before You hear my prayers and answer them?”

I want answers to my questions, solutions to my problems, sometimes even an end to my sufferings and I want it right now.

Today.

Actually, yesterday, if possible.

But God doesn’t schedule in His answers according to the calendar I keep. He loves me too much to rush the process. That intricate process of me becoming who I am to be.

Learning to be content in the waiting rooms of my life allows me to cultivate trust and obedience. Character traits that can only be grown in the slow, steady light of the Father’s perfect timing. Resting in the knowledge that God alone knows the when and where of my life.

So when impatience gets the best of me and I cry out, “How long, O LORD?” I can be confident that He sees me, freckled nose and all and says,

“I’ll tell you what, darlin’. When it’s time, I’ll tell you. And I promise I won’t let you miss it.”

 

 

 

Waiting in the Wilderness

I have begun taking early morning walks again. Popping out of bed, putting on my shoes and heading toward the park before the general population rises is about the only sure way for me to get in my exercise for the day. If I wait until my foggy brain clears, it would surely come up with a legitimate excuse not to go!

A beautiful park near my house has a winding trail that takes me along a shallow creek through the forest. It is a peaceful place where the early morning fog hovers above the grass like the spirit of morning rising. It is the perfect setting for a conversation with God.

This particular morning as I put one foot in front of the other along the trail I cried out to God for clarity. The past few weeks had been for me like a spiritual wandering in the wilderness. Everything was changing in my life’s ministry and nothing seemed clear. I was grieving the ending of one phase without knowing for certain what lay ahead of me. Obedience was becoming a challenge in a way that I had not expected.

So now as I was striding down the trail this summer morning I cried out to God, “What is it that You want from me?” At that moment two beautiful sun speckled deer walked across the path. They paused, gazed at me for an instant and then sprang into the trees on the other side.

Psalms 42 resonated in my spirit.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

And then I knew what God wanted from me.

He just wanted me. All of me.

Sometimes He allows me to walk in the wilderness. Not because He has forsaken me, but because He knows that when I am free from the distraction of knowing what is to come, I develop a thirst. A thirst so strong that can only be quenched by the Living Water of the Most Holy God.

I am waiting in the wilderness for You, Lord.

Come, fill my cup.