Gradient Week 5

Gray Skies Are Going to Clear Up

Written by Melissa Smith

My days can feel like a series of stops and starts. From mundane chores like doing laundry to the daily saga of waiting in traffic. I'm always waiting for the next thing to happen. This is most evident to me when I have a doctor's appointment. I get ready hours earlier in order to give myself enough road time to arrive at least 10 minutes early. When I get there and sign in, I sit in the lobby and wait. Most of the time, those extra 10 minutes are proven unnecessary as I end up waiting for an interminably longer period of time that puts me over the time I was actually scheduled! Why do they make appointments if they're just a suggestion of when you are going to be seen? I guess it's one of the great mysteries of the world.

Waiting more than I want to isn't limited to the doctor's office. I spend what seems like an eternity waiting for answers to prayer or for the season I'm in to do something. I almost prefer waiting for the doctor! At least the waiting done there is easily categorized.

My most potentially difficult waiting is the kind that happens during the times when I can't see the end or don't understand the present.

When I'm expecting the answer to happen one way and it doesn't or it doesn't even happen at all I find myself discouraged and flustered. You probably know what I'm talking about.

We learn in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we are being transformed into the image of the Lord from glory to glory. Each triumph and answered prayer renews our minds to see the awesome faithfulness of God and strengthens our trust in Him. This is an ever-present, ongoing process that happens through everything we experience. It's easier to pinpoint when we have an immediate response to prayer, like somehow having enough money for gas or landing a highly desired job. We are able to tuck these victories into our answered prayer piggy bank with ease.

There's a word in this verse I think we overlook. The word "to." It's a little word that doesn't do much but get us from one point to the next.

See, it just happened! In this case, the word represents the period of time spent waiting for that something to happen. It's a span of time we dread and endure and usually disdain, but it's a very valuable place to be. How is it possible to enjoy and even thrive in the waiting? Let's briefly take a look at the Israelites when they were freed from Egypt and at David when he was waiting to be crowned king.

The Israelites are a really vivid picture of what it looks like to walk through life relying entirely on yourself and your circumstances to tell you if things are good or not. This group of freed slaves saw the wonders of the plagues, witnessed the miracle of the Passover and finished there  escape by walking on dry land through the Red Sea. They had a ton of things to fill their piggy banks, but instead they only saw the annoyance of having to walk to an unknown destination and could only think of the things they had left behind in Egypt. When they thought they would die from starvation, God gave them manna from the sky. After a while, they were annoyed that they were only getting manna from the sky! Their focus and attention kept them in a negative frame of mind incapable of seeing their blessings. They could have been so happy with what they were given while on their journey, but instead only saw things they thought were missing or the situations they saw as hardships.

In contrast, we have David. This was the little shepherd boy who God later referred to as a man after His own heart. David only had a shepherd's hook and a lyre when the prophet Samuel anointed him as the next king of Israel. At that point, his favorite thing to do was to write music and poems and sing praises to the Lord. In fact, he was out with the sheep before being named by God as the future king. What did he do after he received this title? He went back to the sheep and continued writing music and singing to the Lord! When the palace needed a singer for King Saul, David was the one who went to him and played songs on his lyre. While still a shepherd/palace singer, he ended up being the one to defeat Goliath and as a result became a celebrated soldier in the army. His awesome skills made King Saul murderously jealous and angry. He resorted to living in caves until Saul died to save his life. David never lost sight of God's promise, but was always willing to do what God put in front of him while waiting for its fulfillment. Throughout each leg of his journey to become king, David stayed true to God. He never lost sight of God's presence in his life and kept his focus on God's character.

If the Israelites are a case study in reacting to life circumstances in our own understanding, then David is the study on living with God while waiting.

David never stopped to look at what wasn't happening or what he wasn't doing because he remembered God's promise. He didn't try to become king before God determined he would and he didn't see the delays as evidence of not getting an answer. Sure, he had human moments of emotions and reactions, but he didn't let this become who he was.

As followers of Christ, we have something, or should I say someone, these people didn't have. We have Jesus! Because of His sacrifice on the cross, we can now confidently approach God and talk to Him about everything with frank boldness. We have confidence in our position as children of God to know that even during our times of waiting, no matter how long or how difficult, He is with us. Through Jesus we have the gift of Holy Spirit. We know He will remind us of all the ways God has taken care of us in the past. He reassures us that God will do it again. He points out all of the things God is doing  while we wait. Each experience we have with answered prayers and completed seasons fortifies our reliance on God and causes us to reflect His glory even more brightly.

When we spend more time focusing on what God is doing in our lives while we wait, we spend less time noticing that we're not there yet. We recognize that the journey is just as fruitful as the destination.

In the waiting room of seasons, we are the ones spending our time looking out the window at the beautiful blue sky while reflecting on God's goodness instead of constantly checking our watches in order to count the second-hand movement tick by tick. Shifting your focus onto all of the ways God is blessing you, large and small, keeps you focused on the goodness and faithfulness of your Father. It is this faithfulness that carries you through each “to.”