Giving and Receiving

Have you ever wanted something for years–that you have prayed for, cried for, begged God for?  I have.

I attempt to live seeking God’s purpose for my life in the right now, but underneath there is still an anguish asking, “Why such a long wait?”  “Will you ever say ‘yes’ to my prayer? Or will you give me a settling peace to know it will never be mine? Please just don’t keep me in this desperate place of longing!”

I know I am not alone in this experience, if only because of Hannah.  In 1 Samuel you can read the account of her deep desire for a son which was unmet for years.  She had to watch her sister-wife have child after child–taunted.  Even though she had great favor from her husband it could not fill the depths of her longing; peace evaded her.

Finally in desperation, she poured her heart out to God at the temple.  She was so visibly distressed that the priest believed her drunk.  In her anguished prayer that day, she prayed for a son if only to dedicate him wholly back to God.  God answered that prayer and gave her Samuel.  She kept her promise, and once Samuel was weaned, she brought him to the temple to live and serve God.   That boy grew up to be one of the greatest prophets in Israel’s history.

Was Hannah’s waiting in vain?  No, for in her waiting, she released her greatest desire back to God as a sacrifice–and God used it mightily, in ways far exceeding Hannah’s imagination.  Today, thousands of years later, we still read of her and her son!  However, God did not use Hannah only to serve his purpose–he also blessed her with five other children.

I take comfort knowing that my waiting is not a sign that God has forgotten me.  Instead, this waiting may bring about greater works than I can imagine.  I take hope that the waiting will not be forever, and that like Hannah, once God’s purpose is fulfilled, my heart’s desire may be met.

Accepting, not Negotiating

It’s January, and we are all thinking about the New Year and all the things we want to accomplish.  What do we want our lives to look like by the end of the year?  But sometimes there are things in our lives we cannot change, and that can cause bitterness…but it should not.  How can we better handle it?

My thoughts turn back to Advent, to Mary.  I wonder at her willingness for the Lord to use her however he wanted.  She consented to becoming a single mother–something with the potential to ruin all her dreams for the future.  She did not caveat her obedience and faith on any conditions–like that she would no have embarrassment or that everyone would believe the miracle immediately or that her image would not be ruined or that her life would be easy.  She just accepted it.

I struggle with questioning the lot God gave me in life: “Why me”, “If I have to do this, why didn’t you give me ____ to make it more bearable?”  Looking at Mary, I cringe–nothing in my life has really made a huge impact on my future compared to having a baby sooner than I anticipated.  She is an encouragement to me to accept the struggles in life God gives me and trust that he will provide for me.  In the end, God did make sure Mary had a husband with which to walk through the unexpected.  He protected her and Jesus from Herod.  He provided her with a caretaker when Jesus died.  Likewise, God will provide support for me too. However, it is up to me to accept the challenges he sends me in life and trust him always.

God makes all things beautiful in their time…

SnSnowow softly falling covers the straw-like grass and the black, bare trees I have been looking at for weeks.  Snow transforms the death of winter into something beautiful.  God makes everything beautiful in it own time–even in the winter.

Spring brings the beauty of flowers. Summer the lush of green reflecting the dancing beams of sunlight.  In the fall, the trees bear the radiant hues of sunset.  Every season brings its beauty, but every season also has its times of ugly:  Winter the death of life, spring the rain and muddy puddles, summer the dry grass and scorched plants when there is no rain, and fall when the rain comes chilling, ripping the leaves from their perches.

Having a route to work that always passes orchards I have often seen a parallel between the apple trees and my life.  We both have seasons, season of life and death, of joy and hardship.  I find hope in my times of winter that spring always comes to clothe the trees in beauty so also I have hope for a spring of joy to follow in my life.  I have seen this to be true.

However, watching the snow fall this morning has prompted me to expand this parallel–no matter what season I am in, I can find beauty or ugly.  In my winters, I can still look for the snow and in my spring be aware it may rain.  God makes everything beautiful in its own time, but are we looking for it, even in our winters?