Winter’s epilogue had left the hardness of ground, leaves crushed like dust beneath the feet. We had waited for clearer skies, for fresh dew upon the earth, for life to return to barren soil, for readiness and new beginnings. We had waited for hope.
In the waiting we may become restless. We may doubt the goodness of the Gardner, that He who planted generously might not produce abundantly. We might speculate that the fruit will come up just short of what we need. Is it possible to have too much need?
We are a people driven by results, eager to reap the benefits of our labor, demanding now what was designed to be a process. In season, we may forget that time is the perfect teacher, delivering instruction through small exercise. Time helps us cultivate trust through the waiting. The beauty is found in the unseen.
My girl knows how joy is found. She looks for it, always in the curious pursuit of glory moments. She bends over weedy clover to collect a honeyed bouquet for Mommy. I am made still in the midst of the daily striving by a little child demonstrating the gospel of grace, open and ready to receive. Hope is when we wait with expectation and still find joy right now.
“As you wait in My Presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: Christ in you, the hope of glory!” -Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (see Col. 1:27)
We move to the raised garden and see remnants of last year’s growth and gasp at the wonder of renewal. Two tomato vines entwined about the wires need pruning, the cutting away of the dead places. Yellow flowers bud into blossoms and a green tomato, no larger than a marble, grows from the vine.
I come hungry, seeking the fruit of a harvest yet to be planted, and hear the stillness of His voice: “I Am the gift. Seek Me above everything else. I want you more than what you can do for Me.”
We take stock of the needs in the garden for the time of planting: cucumbers, marigolds, a few strawberry plants, and fresh herbs to transplant. But one more thing is needed: the soil must be tilled and fertilized to be made ready.
Eagerness compels my daughter to leap up to the raised bed and begin digging into dry earth. But without the proper tools or materials there would be no gardening. So off she goes with Daddy to the local nursery for plants and supplies. They return with arms full of life and potential, and together we work in the garden.
Full of enthusiasm our little girl asks if she can help at every step–the tilling, the fertilizing, the planting, the watering–and she works with gusto. Yet there are moments when Mommy and Daddy have to remind her not to go ahead of us in the process: “You need to wait. Be patient.”
Off she dances to an empty flower bed with pink princess shovel in hand singing, “I’m waiting to be patient…I’m waiting to be patient!”
I belly laugh thinking of how many times I have prayed for patience as a mama, and recall the value of learning to wait on the Lord, hungry for the fruit of the Spirit. God’s Word tells us not to be eager to go ahead of God in the process, because everything happens at an appointed time.
So how do we make the ground of our hearts ready to receive God’s will?
How can we “wait to be patient”when we are restless to have the gifts he has prepared and to see the results of the work he has begun? We can go to the Word that brings life, and be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). We come to the well thirsty, and dip our buckets deep into pools of living water. When we come with open hearts, we can receive the abundance of the fullness of His grace. This is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God(see Eph.2:8).
O Lord, this is the remedy for us who feel compelled to find solutions to our worries before you have worked them out. We feel pulled in many ways and seek answers that haven’t been revealed yet. Lord, forgive us for fretting in our need to direct and control your plans for us. Lead us beside the still waters that we may find our rest in you. Fill us with joy in your presence, that we may rejoice in the present moment and keep on working with gusto. For you are the gift that is ever full-filling and always more than enough. By remaining in you, abiding in true grace, we will bear the fruit that is promised, and so rejoice in the work You have already finished. Amen.
(This post has be revised and was originally published in February 2014.)