'Twas six days before Christmas. And not a creature was stirring--not even a mouse! No rustle of wrapping paper could be heard...No revving of my car's engine taking me hither and yon to celebrate with family and friends...No heavenly scents of billowy divinity or other baked-from-scratch-delectables wafting from from my kitchen. But instead, the sounds of the flu hung heavy in my home--with hacking and coughing and the shuffling of my feet from my bed to my favorite chair for fourteen long days.
And as I peered through the windows of my French doors to my backyard--my favorite spot, my little Garden of Eden--the picture before me was a window to my soul. I gazed at the mounds of once green and thriving flora that lay limp, lifeless, and shriveled. The crepe myrtles lining my flowerbeds just a few months earlier had daily showered my flagstone patio with endless crimson blossoms. And now, they stood before me naked, vulnerable, and uninviting. The mirror on the wall nearby, and the reflection gazing back at me, seemed to reflect that same image. And it wasnt a pretty sight.
But in that moment, I thought of you, my dear, fellow-struggling sisters. And echoes of truth stirred in my bone-tired spirit. I've heard your questions...You want to know what happens in those times when your life lies dormant--those "in between" times...What happens when the winter of your soul seems to have robbed you of the hope that life will indeed spring forth again? Yes, sisters, we all need to know in the depths of our weary beings how to more than survive God's "waiting room"...We need to know how to flourish there.
No, this wasn't my first rodeo. And I am confident it's not yours. So, how do we take the lessons from past wintry seasons of pain and frustration and doubt and disappointment--and how do we rest in the knowledge that this "pause" in life-as-we-had-hoped holds the promise of more? We need to know as we wait that there is indeed hope for abundant life--renewed, restorative, and purposeful life. And so, squirming and shifting uncomfortably in God's waiting room, how can we learn to wait well?
First, gazing back at my garden, I found an important clue in those brown and lifeless mounds of perennials and stark crepe mrytles. With no striving against the process, my hostas and coneflowers and lantanas lay surrendered to the pause of winter...And so must we! How often we find ourselves scanning the horizon--pleading with God--for the end of our winter of discontent! What if we instead rested in our greatest need---Jesus?! Planting ourselves deeper in the rich soil of His truth, what if we lived in a greater awareness that He won't let us miss our needed answer? Oh, but how tragic if we missed getting more of Him!
And then, my eyes landed on the numerous rose bushes throughout my garden. Few leaves remained, but the thorns were still plentiful. Soon it will be necessary to trim back those branches, and I'm sure to have an up close and personal encounter with those thorns. Yes, there will be some pain and some grimacing, but each time I choose to embrace the pruning process, I can see through eyes of faith the promise of bushes laden with countless buds that will blossom with new and vibrant flowers. Oh, my friends, what if we dared to fully embrace this pause--this time in God's waiting room--knowing that the Vinekeeper is never closer to the vine than when HE is pruning it?!
Lastly, as the wind howled and the sun was hidden, I found myself wishing for winter to pass and for the busyness of my normal days to resume. I pictured my precious grandchildren in my garden blowing bubbles and feeding the birds. And I chuckled as I remembered the numerous times one of them stepped out of sight and no sound of their chattering and singing and bickering with their cousins could be heard. And as any parent or grandparent knows, often a quiet toddler is sure to be "up to no good"! But will we let the truth grow deeper in our often quivering hearts--the truth that when God seems silent, He is must assuredly "up to only good"?! Yes, time in His waiting room is never a waste of time, dear sisters, for He is busy in this time of pause readying us to receive His promise.
And so, dear ones, the flu has passed and the calendar on my wall still signals winter is at hand, but my soul has been refreshed. Undoubtedly, we will each find ourselves seated in God's waiting room time and time again. And yet, if we will attune our weary hearts to hear His voice, His message will be clear..."Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!"