Monday, September 01, 2008

"are we there yet?": theme and variations

Yea, there is strength in striking root, and good in growing old.
I keep trying to write a post about Chesterton (that's him up top), and getting interrupted by a Leeland song playing in my head:
Time keeps moving on,
Through the sunshine and the storm.
And my dreams are set in stone,
And someday I'll be who I wanna be.
But for now
I'll wait
For the sun to shine again.
And for now
I'll wait
For the rain to pass away.

And I'm looking for the brighter days,
When all my hurts seem to fade away.
And I'm looking for the brighter days
To come my way.
There's a kind of potential to the mere passing of time that I think gets missed a lot. What is faithfulness without time to test it with? Or patience? Or endurance? Or friendship? Or love?

How is diligence measured without time? What is hope without time?

But that is the hardest thing sometimes: just waiting for time to pass. Waiting for promises to be fulfilled, for prayers to be answered.

So often my desire is to skip to the end. If only I could fast forward to my goals and get on to the next thing.

I am learning that this is not a Scriptural perspective. The story of the Bible starts with a promise (the coming Redeemer) that wasn't fulfilled for thousands of years. But those years weren't dead time where God inflicted waiting for the sake of waiting. What happened in those years brought fullness and meaning and significance and beauty to everything that came after (including everything yet to come).

Solomon said that "hope deferred makes the heart sick, but the desire accomplished is a tree of life."

Think about it. A tree.

I haven't gardened a whole lot in my life, but any time I plant something I experience of test of patience. Waiting for a seed to germinate, and then to grow into a recognizable plant, and then to flower, and then to produce fruit -- that's a long process! It's especially tedious if you watch the plant each day, and nothing seems to have changed from the day before.

But those are just garden plants. What kind of patience does it take to wait for a tree?

Sometimes my impatience is the real-life equivalent of crawling around in the dirt, rooting out weedy-looking saplings. Fistful by grubby fistful, I shove the saplings into my Vase of Preconceived Notions, and shake my head at what ugly flowers they make.

When all the while my ugly "flowers" were only baby trees, Masterfully tended and growing exactly on schedule.

Those times when it seems like it's taking an especially long time for a problem to be solved or a prayer to be answered -- those are not proof of a forgetful or spiteful God, who puts His children on a waiting list or throws them into a special brand of cosmic time out.

Waiting times are just as much part of His purpose and plan as times of fulfillment. And those trees need every single second He's ordained to grow the right branches and leaves and flowers and fruit.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


Jourdan said...

Wow. Well okay, I just sat down to study a little more for my test tomorrow and my Bible was opened on my desk from this afternoon's reading. I read three verses down from where I left off and sure enough I read...

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

I mean, I just read your blog not ten minutes ago. I found that interesting.

danay said...

You described the waiting times so well. God has so much for us in those days and weeks and months and years. It's funny that when we look back those seemingly interminable periods of waiting weren't so long after all.

God is good. Often we wait and wait for something and He gives us something else- something better. Thanks for the thoughts.

cjslaw said...

Great thought. Authority on point from Jill and Polly:

"Oh, Susan!" said Jill. "She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."

"Grown-up, indeed," said the Lady Polly. "I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can." (C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, Ch. 12: Through the Stable Door.)

To live without dreams is dull, dreadfully so. But to live as though everything now hangs on those dreams is a robbery of the present whose bitter cruelty we may apprehend only when it is too late -- when we have already missed the best treasure buried in the season of uncertainty: finding our last constant is our best one, Christ Himself. Don't let the chief liar steal that rich joy. Seize it, and relish it.

Daniel Jackson said...

Great reflection/exegesis/[insert-smart-sounding-word-here], MLE. And it looks like I'm not the only one who found it to be shockingly relevant...