I am full of hope that when God delays in fulfilling our little thoughts, it is to leave Himself room to work out His great ones.Lilias Trotter, December 29th, 1903
My favorite part of winter is the reminder that spring is coming. The end of a cold dark season will bring a new and bright one.
Out of the death of plant and insect life comes a new birth, a springing forth of fresh-life.
For me, winter most often feels like survival. Uncomfortable and unpleasant. Yet there are sweet moments carried on the chilling breezes.
Moments of awe that showcase God’s goodness amid bleak days. Joys that I want to capture and hold on to. Despite the discomfort of winter, it is God’s gift to me. Each day, as I long for the warmth of the sun, I have hope, genuine hope, that knows the seasons are faithful. They come and go as they always do. It also gives me hope in the more difficult and longer seasons of life because my God is also faithful.
We all have ideas in our head of how we think our lives will play out. If not our entire lives, at least a few years or a specific aspect. Especially marriage, children, vocation, or destination. Often as we grow in Christ, those ideals fade into a prayer of, “Make me to know Thy will”. And He does; our desires change, our choices reflect that.
I am surrendered to His plans for my life. I have slain my ideals on the altar of His perfect will. Yet, there are times in my life, and I am sure in each of yours, where you think, “But God, this is not how I thought it was going to be. I do not understand. I thought I was doing Your will. Why is this happening (or not happening)?”
Much like winter, uncomfortable seasons come. Sometimes they are long and bleak, but if we take the time to look closely at an intricate snowflake, relish the beauty of Christmas music, breath in warm cinnamon and evergreen smells, soak in the joys of family and gatherings, then we begin to cherish those times. Winter, though despised at the start, can afterward bear the sweetest delights.
This season is very much a winter season, not only naturally, but in every sense. Uncertain. Uncomfortable. Hard. Bleak at times. Covid. Changing ministry. Worsening unrest in Haiti. Engaged to the love of my life for 14 months when I thought we would be married by now.
Over and over, I respond to the most common question I receive, “When is the wedding?” We do not know– not because we do not feel ready. Not because we are clinging to our individual freedoms. Not because we are not head over heels in love and longing to share everything, namely a home. We are all of those things. That is why it is so hard to explain.
Relationships that end in marriage six months later have always appealed to me. I remember reading of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot’s five years of waiting and thinking, “Never!” Yet here we are, we do not know when our wedding will take place. Several times we have made tentative plans, but something always changes, sending us back to square one.
Our reasoning is complicated. Living together now could mean dying together later. Not as heroic martyrs or persecuted Christians. For nothing more than having a few dollars over the average Joe or looking like we do. Ironically lack of finances also stands in the way. We are not afraid, we trust our God, yet we cannot throw ourselves off of the temple because of our impatience. Because of all the barriers we are facing currently, we must conclude that God is asking us to wait on Him to make a way. It is the very most that we can do.
This season feels cold and prolonged at times. Looking ahead, it seems to stretch on and on with no end in sight. Yet we know that winter is never perpetual. Spring always comes, and every death (to self, to desires, to longings, to ideals) becomes the grounds for new life. During undesired waiting, we are learning a love that sacrifices. Amid the uncertainty, we are learning to trust the Lord together. In many unfulfilled desires, we are learning to resist temptation, walk the narrow road, and find real intimacy that is so much more than physical. Seeds sown during winter though hidden from our eyes now, will one day spring up and bloom the most glorious blossoms.
There are few things harder to bear than uncertainty than waiting. Joy can only come when I am content to trust. When I choose to see winter, not as a cold meant to crush, but the in-between place designed to build endurance, deepen intimacy, and prepare us to receive new blessings of spring.
And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Unit it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no, that never shall be; rather,
I pray The blend my human will with Thine.
I pray Thee, hust the hurrying, eager longing;
I pray Thee, soothe the pangs of keen desire;
See in my quiet places wishes thronging;
Forbid them, Lord; purge, though it be with fire.
And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure;Amy Carmichael, Even As a Weaned Child
Tarry, content my Well-Beloved’s leisure–
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.