It’s March, and spring is definitely in
the air here in Tennessee. The trees are budding and glorious green foliage is starting to emerge,
bringing life out of dry deadness and bursting renewal into my winter-weary
I am particularly aware of and thankful for
this timely seasonal change because in my homeland of Wisconsin springtime never arrives in
March. The vernal equinox means little to the Great White
Tundra. And if an April snowstorm hits, you might be lucky to
see flowers by June. In fact, we used to recite a funny little
poem in grade school that goes:
Spring has sprung, the grass has riz…
wonder where the flowers is?!
God’s timing can sometimes be like that.
You pray, and expect God to act quickly in response to your
need. But then he doesn’t. And you wait. And
wait. And wait some more. I have experienced numerous occasions when I expected God to do something, or
for things to happen on a certain schedule (my schedule, of course) and they didn’t. Specific times when I prayed and prayed and really needed God to show up and
do what I wanted when I wanted it, but he had other ideas. Once,
after a particularly devoted time in my Christian walk, I lost my job. I remember being puzzled and even angry with God about this. Why didn’t he reward me for my loyalty and faithfulness to Him? At the very least he should have kept me employed. Instead I was without work for nearly three months and forced to use the food
pantry at church.
When life doesn’t happen on our terms or
according to our timetable, it can be confusing, painful, frustrating, and maddening. We often ask “why” – why me? or why now? or why this? But God doesn’t always answer these questions. Then what? The question is will
we stay committed to God, crumble under pressure, or pout in the corner when we don’t get our way? It’s an
interesting question – and one best answered before the trial starts.
In the midst of difficulty, sometimes our
worst behavior becomes apparent. I have long suspected the term
“knee jerk reaction” was named for me, because I know my first, impulsive reaction is often to act like a
jerk! But if we prepare
for trouble, we can gain an advantage on the situation -- a sort of Christian “street smarts.” Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have
trouble.” I would have preferred him to say, “In this world you
will get frequent promotions and bonuses.” Or, “In this world,
if you follow my teachings, your car will never break down -- the Mercedes, I mean.” But that’s not true, and
Jesus doesn’t lie. He gives us the straight skinny. Mincing no words, he tells us that trials will definitely come, even more
so because we are his followers, but to not lose hope because he has overcome the world. In the end, Jesus will prevail … and so will we.
So how can we best deal with life’s
difficulties and God’s timing?
1. Plant little seeds of faith now. By studying God’s word, chronicling his fulfilled promises and answered
prayers in your life, and choosing to be faithful in little things, you can grow quite a hearty crop of
conviction that will withstand the droughts of disappointment and threatening winds of worry that will
inevitably come. Has it been a long time since you’ve even cracked
open a Bible? Then start tilling the ground of discovery by
selecting one book – The Psalms, Gospel of John, or maybe Romans – and just start reading. You won’t believe what you’ll unearth while little seeds of faith are being
sowed in the process!
2. Learn how to use fertilizer. Tennessee soil is a stubborn mixture of rock and clay. But mix in some good old cow poop and you can grow just about anything
here. Life is a lot like gardening. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it shines. Sometimes the foundation of our lives feels soft and rich and things are
growing beautifully. And sometimes, in really hard times, the soil
of our hearts can feel pretty crusty, dirty, rocky, and dry. And
then things get worse! But with the right attitude, we can learn to
not love bad times but at least accept them as part and parcel of this sin-filled world and view their lessons
and experiences as stinky fertilizer that is growing us into the unique and special individuals we
are. Hey, let’s face it, manure happens! So we may as well prepare for it, right? But when it does, we can trust that
God is blooming something exquisite from all that crap we endured.
He really is. (Can I say crap on a Christian
3. Pray for rain. Ask God to
teach you how to live each day plugged into the power of his Holy Spirit. His presence will be like a welcome shower cooling you off when the heat is
turned up in your life. Ask Him to refresh your faith and He will
quench your thirst for impatiently demanding God to instantly do what you want when you want it. And instead, He’ll give you the restful and renewing power of patience as you
learn to wait on the Lord.
4. Grow in a Group. You’ll grow
faster and better when you associate with other gardeners and learn how to use the true Farmer’s Almanac (aka,
the Bible). It’s also more encouraging to weather the storms of
life with others and more fun to celebrate and share the bounty when the garden gives back to you the evidence
of your hard work and persistent faith.
5. Prepare for Snow in April and Be on the Lookout for Daffodils in
February. In other words, expect the unexpected. We can count on numerous difficulties, trials, and tragedies to come our
way. So without being morose, let’s ready our hearts and minds to
anticipate and accept life’s mountains and valleys and not be incapacitated by them when they
occur. But let’s also keep hope alive in our hearts by knowing
that the goodness of God is always going to pop up when we least expect it. Keep your eyes peeled for hints and signs of new life, remembering that
God’s mercies are “new every morning.”
That’s why I put my confidence in
Jesus. Anyone who can raise tulips out of frozen mud has my
vote. More importantly, anyone who can rise from the dead has my
Will life always happen on our
schedule? Nope. And
maybe that’s a good thing. It sure keeps my faith ready to spring
up at anytime!
Have a great March!
P.S. I’m going to continue to dig into this topic of God’s timing in the
April Easter devotional … so stay tuned, devotional devotees!