Our summer garage sale concluded, my teen helped me drag unsold items back inside the garage. Holding up a heavy winter coat he’d outgrown, my son turned to me with a puzzled look & a shrug. His comical expression said it all. Nearly 90 degree heat had been oppressive that day and before the words “what were you thinking?” could escape his lips, I cut him off.
“Hey, winter is coming. Somebody’s gonna need a warm coat soon.”
Later in the week I was walking and praying for the umpteenth hundred time about a longing of my heart. It was a specific request I’ve repeatedly prayed over the course of several years. I was tempted to fuss at God and ask what was taking so long.
I wanted to tell Him, “If you’re trying to build character in me, I’ve been told by numerous folks that I have PLENTY.”
My request wasn’t a selfish one. It wasn’t even predominantly about me. Furthermore, something in my spirit told me that the Lord had not said “NO” to this petition. I even felt led to continue to present this specific request to Him. Still, I wondered aloud, “Lord, if you’re not saying NO, then what’s up with this lengthy delay? A little clarity would be nice…”
So many other times in my life I have prayed and had either an immediate answer or a definitive closed door. Clearly this was not one of those times. The door was not closed, God was not telling me to move on and forget about it. I didn’t even get a sense God was annoyed with my repetition as if I was pestering Him. In fact He had shown me on other occasions what I am seeking is in accordance with His will and is close to His heart.
I’ve often said that, for me, the most frustrating pairing of two words is “wait patiently”. I suppose no one likes to wait. That morning on my walk I caught an image of the Lord putting my request…and my waiting…into perspective.
My mind wandered back to the garage scene with my son and then it hit me. My petition to God was the equivalent of asking for a coat in the heat of summer. All this time, in the heat of life’s circumstances, I had been ignoring the obvious. This was not the right time for the fulfillment of my heart’s longing.
God wasn’t saying, “No, I’m not going to give you what you are asking for”. He wasn’t even disagreeing with me that I would need an answer someday. Just like asking for a coat in Colorado…anyone who’s ever experienced the Rocky Mountains in December knows it WILL get cold enough here to warrant a coat. Eventually. I wasn’t asking for anything out of the ordinary. But my timing was waaaaay off.
My loving Lord gently whispered to me regarding my petition, This isn’t the right season. He knows a time will come when granting my request will be more appropriate. Until then, God simply says, wait and be patient.
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage. He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
“My soul, wait only upon God for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5
“Turn to God, keep mercy & judgment and wait on God continually.” Hosea 12:6
So often we think we know best what we need, and when we need it. We take our petitions to God and ask him to sanction our desires and grant our requests as if He is some Holy Vending machine. Of course, being deeply spiritual, we would never verbally describe God that way. But our attitude betrays us. We figure if we are following God closely, listening for His voice & obeying His directives, He will be more likely to give us “the desires of our hearts”. That’s Biblical, right?
Not exactly. When God says, “Delight yourself in me and I will give you the desires of your heart,” the translation has more to do with God gifting us with desires than it does granting fulfillment of those desires. In other words, it is God who stirs in us to desire in the first place. We desire peace, in the Middle East, in our home, or in our heart. We desire a promotion at work…or a job just to make ends meet. We desire a runaway child to return home or a wayward spouse to repent. We desire a ministry or good health or someone to love us or any other of a million desires we may have in a lifetime. It isn’t that those desires are bad. It’s simply a matter of asking in due season.
God, the Giver of all good gifts, is not going to give us a coat in the heat of summer. His timing is perfect. He knows that often we need time for life’s circumstances to cool off a bit before we can receive what we are asking of Him. I don’t know about you but if someone presented me a coat in the midst of a heat wave, I’d probably be foolish enough to wear it, then complain about being very uncomfortable. Better to wait for God to move in His time, when the season is right.
“For you have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” Hebrews 10:36
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined unto me and heard my cry,” Psalm 40:1
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” Psalm 37:7
Indeed, I am resting in the Lord. Even so, as long as God is not closing the door on my heart’s longings, I will continue to dialog with Him about them, asking in faith. If His reply remains “WAIT” I will wait a bit more patiently than before. After all, winter is just around the corner.