Into the Wind

by Nan Corbitt Allen

They’re loud and demanding and messy.

No, I AM NOT talking about my grandchildren. I’m talking about seagulls.

Recently, my husband and I were on the Gulf Coast of Florida for a few days of R & R. We spent a couple of those days just sitting on the beach watching the waves and the dolphins roll in and out of our view. Though I’ve been to the beach many times, I always learn something each time I go. (Maybe it’s because I choose to look for something new.) Anyway, this time I chose to watch and learn from the seagulls.

They’re scavengers, no doubt, and they find no shame in begging for morsels from unsuspecting beachcombers. Observation: don’t throw out anything edible if you don’t want to reenact a horror scene from a Hitchcock movie. This I already knew.

Observation: seagulls are almost always found in flocks. You hardly ever see one alone (no matter what the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull implies). Sometimes it’s a small flock, sometimes a huge herd. But I knew that, too.

But I did learn something new: seagulls in a flock, while on the ground, all face in the same direction. It was funny at first. A single gull might fly off for a few minutes, then return, but resumed the position of the others. It was as if he was compelled to fit in, or maybe careful not to ruffle the feathers of a higher-up in the pecking order? Was it east or west or something else that determined which way they all faced?

Finally, it dawned on me. They all faced into the wind.

When I got home, I did a little research and found that this was exactly what they were doing. It was the wind that determined their on-ground direction, and for a bird of flight, that is important. Seagulls need to vacate the beach quickly when danger arrives or when a food source suddenly becomes available. If their tail feathers are facing the wind, they would be less aerodynamic because of getting saltwater, sand, or debris under their down and feathers. So they protect themselves from harm by always being ready for flight by leaning into the wind.

Birds of flight have differences in their flight patterns.  Eagles soar to great heights. So do I sometimes. Ducks can fly long distances but not necessarily so high. Sometimes perseverance is required of me. 

But seagulls stand on the shore, feel the wind on their beaks, and wait for the next thing.

We go through different seasons in life. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” Right now, I’m not soaring to great heights or flapping furiously for distance. I actually find myself …waiting…leaning into the wind, and trying to respond as the wind changes, ready for whatever is coming. 

While God requires us to wait, sometimes all we can do is keep our face into the wind and be ready for when He finally says “go.”

My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 NASB

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Into the Wind – thoughts on facing life from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: What has God revealed to you about Himself lately?

 

 

Popcorn and Prayer

by Nancy Kay Grace @nancykaygrace

One afternoon while enjoying some peaceful moments reading, I wanted a snack. The thought of crunchy popcorn crossed my mind, so I decided to make some after finishing the current chapter.

Then the doorbell rang, disturbing my reading.

I got up from my comfy spot on the couch to answer my curiosity of an unexpected visitor. When I opened the door, there stood an elementary school-aged boy with a bag in his hand.

“Ma’am, Here’s the popcorn you ordered.”

“Thanks!” I smiled as he gave me the bag of ready-made popcorn.

What perfect timing! I’d forgotten about ordering it a month ago from the Cub Scouts’ fundraiser.

With the treasured popcorn in hand, I returned to the sofa, amazed and thankful that my desired snack appeared on my doorstep. The popcorn tasted delicious as I resumed reading the book.

Wouldn’t prayer be easy if that’s how it worked, to ask and receive? Thinking a bit deeper about the incident, I realized that is how prayer often works.

I had ordered the popcorn at least a month prior to receiving it, knowing I would receive it at a later date. Then I forgot about it. Life went on. When the delivery arrived at just the right time, I was delighted to receive the popcorn.

We are instructed in Scripture to make our requests known to God through prayer, whether it’s for crisis situations or small daily incidences. The words of Colossians 4:2 encourage us to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (NIV). We pray, wait in faith, and are thankful that God will answer.

Sometimes God answers immediately with “yes” or “no” and other times it’s “not yet.” I can think of my prayers that God has answered in each of those categories. He’s answered “yes” to prayers of safety, guidance, and relationships. He’s answered “no” to my selfish desires that would pull me away from Him. Most times, I live in the “not yet” of prayer, waiting in faith for God’s answer. Sometimes I forget about the prayer until God answers it in His time. The answer may come soon after praying or years later. God’s timing trumps my impatience and timeline. His ways are far better than my shortsighted faith.

While we wait, we still pray, deepening our relationship with God. He is at work behind the scenes. When there is an answer, there is great joy in seeing the hand of God at work!

Like opening the door and finding His answer on your doorstep when you least expect it.

May we be diligent in prayer as we watch and wait with expectation, trusting God’s timing.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6 NIV

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Popcorn and Prayer – thoughts on #prayer from @NancyKayGrace on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

NancykaygraceAbout the author: Nancy Kay Grace is a speaker and award-winning author. She has contributed to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as online and print magazine articles. She loves sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and grace. To learn more about her ministry, please visit her website at http://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for her monthly GraceNotes devotional.

In her award-winning devotional book, The Grace ImpactNancy gives an up-close glimpse of God’s faithful character. In all things, His grace covers every detail of life, not in just the good things, but in the difficult, sad, and complicated.

Join the conversation: When has God answered your prayer? Please share!

Waiting Patiently

by Crystal Bowman

Several years ago, my son and daughter-in-law found themselves in a cold and sterile infertility clinic 1500 miles away from home. They desperately wanted a baby, but things didn’t happen the way they had planned. After all attempts to conceive had failed, they flew home with shattered dreams and lost hope. Their story is heart wrenching, and it’s shared by more than 6 million couples in the U.S. who just want to have a child.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (ESV). Whether it is hoping for a child, a career promotion, or that special someone to share our life, it’s only human to want things to fall into place. We pray and plead and weep, wondering if God hears us. Our well-meaning friends quote Bible verses for us. We read and reread God’s promises. But when what we hope for is deferred, it truly does make the heart sick.

During a season of waiting, bitterness can take root and hopelessness can overwhelm us. We ask questions and wonder why, but the answers don’t always come. In Psalm 40, King David says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (40:1, 3 NIV). Waited patiently. Two words that tell us what David did in his time of distress, and that God heard his cry. But I wonder how long David had to wait before God responded—one week, two years, or a decade?  The Bible doesn’t say.

Waiting patiently for something our hearts long for is physically and emotionally exhausting. It consumes our thoughts and can make us feel weak as we attempt to go on with our daily lives. The prophet Isaiah offers encouragement with these words: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). When our hope is in God, rather than in doctors or bosses or dating websites, he renews our strength. His love and grace and mercy are great enough to cover our shattered dreams, heal our broken hearts, and restore us to wholeness.

My son and daughter-in-law were finally blessed with baby boy, and three years later a baby girl. They now have a noisy home with scattered toys on the floor and fingerprints on the windows. Of course, not every desire or hope we have will be fulfilled the way we want, and only God knows how each person’s story will be written. But while we wait patiently for his plan to unfold, we can soar with the eagles knowing that God will answer our prayers in his time and in his way.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  Psalm 130:5 NIV

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The struggle and the hope of waiting patiently – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps? She is a mentor for MOPS and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Her latest release, co-authored with her daughter-in-law, is Mothers in Waiting, Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. She lives in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best), and travels often to get hugs from her grandchildren.

Join the conversation: For what are you waiting?

Persistent Patience

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7 NIV

I heard the phrase, persistent patience, several years ago, and it stuck with me. Patience, to me, has always seemed like a passive endeavor. Truthfully, I equated times of waiting with wasted time. Turns out nothing could be farther from the truth.

God is at work in the waiting.

That’s a difficult concept for me. I don’t know about you, but waiting patiently isn’t in my top ten of favorite things to do. I hate being patient, whatever it is—I want it, and I want it now. I particularly struggle with waiting when I’m striving toward a dream or goal. I look for ways to hurry things up, and that leads me to look around to judge others who have had to wait for something similar. Then that leads directly to comparison and competition and ultimately dissatisfaction. It’s a vicious cycle and a hard one to break.

I would like to say this impatience is due to the time in which I live and the environment around me. After all, we live in a world of the instant now. How nice it would be to put the blame anywhere else but me. But God’s word shows us lots of impatient people throughout the Bible. I can’t honestly say it’s caused by anything except my human nature.

One thing God has shown me—over and over again—that it’s in the waiting where I grow closer to Him and stronger in my faith. Learning to wait has given me strength of character and perspective.

God has also shown me that impatience really is immaturity with a mask. So many times in my life, if God had given me the answer the moment I asked, I would have missed out on so much. I would have missed the sweet prayer time, the fellowship with others who shared in my journey, and the ultimate joy of something anticipated and achieved. I would have also missed out on being used by God to teach and comfort others as they saw Him work in my life.

What are you waiting for? Use this time to walk closer with God and watch the amazing things He does for you and through you as you depend on Him!

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Practicing persistent patience as we walk with God – @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What has God done in your life as you have waited for Him?

Choosing Endurance with Joy

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” Hebrews 10:39 (MSG)

When I used to think about the word endure, I have to admit, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I would invariably think of these horrible things I had to do because they were good for me, but for which I had absolutely no desire: choking down cooked spinach because it’s healthy, exercising for 30 minutes a day, cleaning the house, ____ (you fill in the blank!)

However, a September women’s conference at my church changed my perspective on enduring. I learned that when God directs me to do something, even when (or maybe especially when) I know that the assignment is going to be anything but easy, if I choose to remain faithful and obedient, God will bless that choice. That’s endurance.

Enduring doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t have to be torture. It can be choosing every day to ask God to help me in the difficult moments, so that I can fulfill the assignment He has given me to do, for however long He chooses to keep me there.

I’m reminded of Noah—he endured building an ark year after year— even when the world had never seen rain like that before. He completed the assignment God gave him, and his family was saved from death. Do you think he enjoyed coming home from his day job only to put in hours into his ark assignment? With the dimensions that were given in Genesis 6, this was one assignment that couldn’t be knocked out in a weekend!

And then there was Moses. Exodus 2-4 describes his life as a shepherd in the desert with his father-in-law and wife for forty years, before his encounter with God at the burning bush. His assignment: to lead a bunch of complaining, grumbling people through the desert for another forty years. I’m thinking the first forty years were less painful and definitely less effort for him than the latter forty. Yet because he chose to obey, he was used to lead God’s chosen people out of Egypt into freedom.

Six years ago, I surrendered my life to God to use however He chose. Three years ago, I began praying specifically for an answer to a prayer that still has not come to fruition. This past September I surrendered my dreams to God (fully this time with no hidden agenda) and asked Him to replace my desires with His.

While on the outside it may look like I’m still “enduring,” my perspective about the journey has changed. I am choosing joy. I am choosing to be faithful. I am choosing to look for and see God in the little and the big. I am choosing to endure because I know, in His time, if I continue to obey and remain faithful and endure the present circumstances, God will bless that faithful obedience by carrying out His dreams for my life.

Do you think Noah envisioned as a teenager that one day God would use him to replenish the world and to save his family by building a giant boat? Do you think Moses, while wandering around in the desert, exiled from Egypt, had any inkling God was using that preparation to eventually use him to free His people from bondage and lead them into freedom?

God used both these men to carry out His purposes, intentions much greater than anything they could have thought up in their wildest dreams.

And, my friends, I’m believing God is going to use my time of preparation to fulfill His dream for my life, no matter how He wants it to look. I am choosing to endure so I can give Him all the glory for the answer when He chooses to fulfill his purposes for me.

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Choosing to endure doesn’t mean a choice of hardship, surrendering to endurance often brings joy – @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: What dream has God called you to? Do you feel this time (while you endure) could be His preparation for what lies ahead?

God’s Training Ground

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Two of my boys played Lacrosse in high school. I hated the days of training preceding the actual games. Standing in the parking lot watching them push their bodies to the limit over and over, seeing them limp to our car after practice, dirty and exhausted, was trying to this mother’s soul. My instinct was to nurture and comfort. But the coaches knew the harsh regiment was necessary to both the success and safety of the team.

Coach Tom Landry once remarked, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”

Just as in athletics, God’s spiritual training can be tough. It frequently involves hardship and rouses us out of our comfort zone. Through the process we come to understand the reality how truly dependent we are on Him.

David knew the pain of God’s process. During his teen years, God led Samuel to anoint David to be the next king. But it would be quite some time before that promise would be fulfilled. At first, things looked promising. David faced Goliath and brought him down with a single slingshot blow as the entire army of Israel looked on. It would be the first of many other military successes. It wasn’t long before David was a household word. Women would dance in the streets at the army’s arrival, singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten-thousands.” It must have seemed to David that his installation as monarch was right around the corner.

Not so. Rather than becoming king, David found himself running for his life. Saul, feeling threatened by David, spent the next decade or so chasing David around the countryside. He was out to destroy him for good.

In the long wait, David hung on to God’s promise. Even when opportunities came to kill Saul, David resisted. It would be many years of sleeping in caves and living off the land before God did what He said He would.

Why? God had a purpose for those trying years. A group of 400 malcontents, frustrated with the political situation, rallied around David. He trained them into an impressive military corps. David also learned diplomacy skills while dealing with foreign leaders. Most importantly, as God proved His faithfulness time after time, David moved into a deeper relationship and level of trust in Him.

Should the Lord have begun David’s reign while in his youth, as he shepherded sheep for his father, no doubt his leadership would have been far less impressive. So God used David’s time in the desert as a kingship boot camp, providing the experiences and training to someday be a great king.

Those years in waiting were not a comfortable existence for David. But they were necessary. And God didn’t waste a single moment.

Has God called you to something (as He did David)? Maybe a major change or a new ministry? But then when you set out to do it, you found yourself banging your head against a wall? And you wondered: did I hear Him incorrectly?

There have been several times in my life that I have felt His leading. He impresses desires on my heart. But a calling is not necessarily a qualifying. The passion and vision for His plan is given in advance to keep us persevering through the training period.

Some years ago, a Maryland pastor wrote the following in the agonizing days preceding his young wife’s death: “We want things now. Father, microwave us into being like Jesus. But discipleship doesn’t happen overnight. Often God forges His children into His image through the long and dark nights of the soul. We must trust His plan and also His timing! When the time is right, He will bring us out of our trial and we will look more like Him when He does.”

Sanctification, God’s training ground, is a process: often a long and trying process. We yearn for it to end quickly and are unable to see past our immediate, painful circumstances to the wisdom of God.

Yet there is glory ahead. God has a plan and a purpose for the pain. Even when we can’t see the light from inside the tunnel, we can trust in His plan, as He relentlessly moves us toward becoming like Jesus Christ.

He knows the way that I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  Job 23:10 NASB

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God’s training ground is where we find purpose – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Are you in God’s training ground?

Father Knows Best

by Alice H. Murray

“You need to take me to the doctor so he can take my cast off,” my young grandson announced to my daughter one afternoon as the three of us sat in the car together. Liam explained that his broken fingers were better after being in a cast for a week. To his dismay, Liam’s mother responded that he had to wear the cast for two more weeks so that his fingers could completely heal.

Having taken Liam to the playground earlier that day, I knew he was not concerned at all about the complete healing of his fingers. Liam’s focus was on the difficulty of using playground equipment; he could not manage the monkey bars without the use of both arms. Liam wanted to be able to play on the monkey bars now, not a couple of weeks from now when his fingers would be fully healed.

This incident may have given us a chuckle, but as God’s children, we often behave in the same way. “God,” we say, “you need to remove this difficult situation I am facing. I have persevered and am spiritually stronger. I am ready for it to be over now.”

But God sometimes shakes His head and responds “no.” In His infinite wisdom, He knows more time is needed for our transformation before the cast of trying circumstances is removed.

Like Liam, we need to develop patience and learn to trust God’s decisions about our circumstances. In Liam’s case, the decision-making parent was his loving mother; for Christians, that parent is our loving Heavenly Father. The best interest of His child is His ultimate concern. And that concern is the basis for Hi response to His child’s request.

As God’s children, unfortunately, we often cannot see beyond our current comfort. We simply want to run around unimpeded on the playground of our lives now, not later, just like Liam. But if our Heavenly Father says “no” to our request for relief, as my daughter did with her son, we can trust it is because He knows what is best for His child. And as hard as it is to wait, we can be confident He is telling us “no” because He loves us.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

alice murray.JPGAbout the author: Alice H. Murray is a Florida adoption attorney by profession and a writer by passion. Alice writes a weekly blog at www.aliceinwonderingland.wordpress.com, is a staff writer for www.adoption.com, and has had three pieces published in the compilation work Short And Sweet book series (available on www.amazon.com). In her “spare” time, Alice teaches ESL on a volunteer basis as a church outreach ministry.

Join the conversation: When has God made you wait? Were you able to see your resulting growth after the trial was over?

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Erecting Altars

by Jennifer Slatery

My life has been punctuated by a series of, “Are you serious, God?” moments—times when I want to pretend I didn’t hear Him, when I’m convinced He couldn’t possibly have uttered the command I’ve sensed. And there have been way too many times when I’ve been tempted to cloak a disobedient heart in excuses and rationalization.

That burning I felt within while reading that passage—that must have been heartburn. That jolt I felt in my spirit when my pastor gave that sermon—the stage lights must have hit me wrong.

But in this instance, God left no room for doubt, confirming His message numerous times through numerous sources, all in the span of a week. So, with a few reluctant tears, I obeyed. For just over a week, anyway. . .then I started praying for guidance again on the same issue God had so recently given me guidance, as if His instructions came with an expiration date.

They hadn’t. Obedience meant remaining engaged in what He’d already made clear, until He told me otherwise. Trusting, regardless of the delay, that He would be faithful in the wait.

I thought of my reluctant obedience dance with Christ as I was reading about Sarah and Abraham’s journey in Genesis 12. They left their home in response to a dramatic command to leave their country and most of their relatives to go to an undisclosed land.

Abraham obeyed: he, his wife, and their entourage made the long, arduous trek to foreign soil.  The 400-mile journey wasn’t quick or easy. When he arrived in Shechem, where God promised to give that land to his future descendants, Abram built an altar to the Lord.

The thought of descendants must have been astonishing to a 75 year-old childless man. Though He didn’t know it, 25 years would pass before God fulfilled that promise. I imagine the altar that marked the place where he met with God must have reassured Abraham in the wait. And if his experience was anything like mine, remembering would have provided peace and strength for his weary soul.

I’ve learned, if I want to stay strong in Christ and obedient to Him, it helps to fashion my own altars—like notes tucked in my Bible or journal entries stored in my bookshelves. Concrete and irrefutable reminders of those times when God spoke directly to my heart.

Like with the situation I spoke of earlier in this article. If I hadn’t recorded God’s clear commands provided the week before, I could have rationalized them away. Or forgotten them entirely. But regardless of what my temperamental heart longed to believe, I knew God had spoken, and I had determined to obey.

Can you relate to my temptation to discount or rationalize away God’s guidance?

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NASB

Jennifer Slattery Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Join the conversation: How do you reinforce your determination to obey God’s guidance while you wait?

Photo by Zac Frith from Pexels

Late Bloomer

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld

Are you frustrated that your God-given dreams have been delayed?

“We need to cut it down, Lori.” As my husband and I sat on the front porch of our new home, he referred to the large tree that hadn’t yet bloomed.

“Oh, please wait,” I pleaded. I wasn’t excited about our new home. It was over one hundred years old, seriously run down, and in need of major renovation (my husband’s dream, not mine). The front yard, however, had promise, and I had hope for this Catalpa tree whose limbs embraced it like a great protector.

“Look around,” Rob replied. “The other trees have buds or leaves. This has nothing. Even the Catalpas down the road have buds.”

I was turning fifty. My last child had just graduated. I’d dreamed that this would be the season I could write full-time, but this new home and other circumstances now meant another delay. “Maybe it’s a late-bloomer,” I reasoned.

Rob stood and sighed. “One more month. If it’s dead, it poses a hazard.”

By July, life within the Catalpa had burst forth, and on Independence Day it was covered with white flowers and a vision to behold. It was a sign to me that perhaps God wasn’t yet done with my writing, either. It wasn’t long before that was confirmed. A few weeks later, I was offered my first book contract.

Every year, the tree continues to be the last tree in the neighborhood to bud and bloom. It’s the last to show leaves, flowers, and beans. And yet, in spite of its quirky timing, it’s always a sight to behold – lush, sprawling, and providing abundant shade.

My husband still frets about it every June. But by August, being last makes no difference at all.

One of the hardest verses for me to continuously believe is the one from Ecclesiastes (below) – that God will make everything beautiful in its time. It’s much easier for me to believe the second part of that verse. I have so many dreams, so many plans, so many adventures I want to live – I most certainly was designed for eternity. But, just as certainly, I cannot see God’s plans until He unveils them.

I long to fulfill the beauty of God’s purpose for me and yet so much of life is about the work and the wait. Every year, my Catalpa reminds me that though God may take longer than I hope, He does, indeed, make everything beautiful in its time.

And as I wait for Him, God whispers encouragement to me to also be patient with others. For He is faithfully at work creating something beautiful in them as well.

Are you wondering when it will be your time to bloom? Hold on, friend, and trust the season even if it tarries.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. Biblical, funny, and real, she inspires courage and Christ-centered confidence. She’s authored three non-fiction books including Running from a Crazy Man, Jesus and the Beanstalk, and the upcoming, The Art of Hard Conversations, as well as a Christmas novella, Red Pen Redemption. Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, she learned the most from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. To join the adventure, knock on her door at www.loriroeleveld.com .

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Lori’s book, Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life , please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: For what dreams are you waiting on God?

A Watched Pot Never Boils

by Deb DeArmond

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God!” Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

“A watched pot never boils, babe,” I advised my newlywed husband. He continued to stare at the pot filled with still stiff pasta. Silence.

Then, “What kind of pot is it?” he asked.

“A watched pot. You know–it will never boil.”.

“Then why cook the pasta in it?”

We’d received many kitchen items as wedding gifts, including a variety of pots and pans: crockpots, Dutch ovens, frying pans and more. He misunderstood that a “watched” pot was a brand of cookware! I literally meant a pot that’s being watched or observed. Apparently, my mother had a few colloquialisms his didn’t.

The concept is simple: the more closely we watch to ensure something happens, the more it may be delayed.

Life is like that at times. The single surfing the web for the perfect mate. The frustration of waiting for a new job opportunity. The monthly disappointment when trying to conceive. The closer we watch, the longer it seems to take.

But does God want us to agonize while we wait? Jesus told a parable about a farmer who plants seed in Mark 4:26-29. After planting his crop, he doesn’t watch it minute by minute, or dig it up to make sure it’s still there. When his part is done, he rests in the process.

Why is this hard to do? Simple. In our humanness, we like control. For Christians, that’s a problem, of course, because God asks us to trust Him with our lives. That’s His process. It’s sometimes challenging to apply.

My mother was once injured in a devastating accident. Doctors decided there was nothing they could do but wait and see. It was difficult news, but it was easy for us to pray and trust a merciful God. Why was it easy this time? Because there was nothing else we could do. No other efforts were possible.

But when dealing with financial difficulties or concerns about a child’s behavior, it’s easy to take matters into our own hands. Take a second job to deal with the money problems. Read a book by a popular author on childrearing. Searching for solutions is not wrong, unless we are using them to replace turning to God in prayer and trusting Him for answers.

God doesn’t expect us to do nothing in difficult times. He expects us to pray and seek His will. He may lead us to pursue an idea that occurred to us. But He wants to direct the traffic in our lives, trusting the process, trusting Him.

If you want to watch something, forget the pot. Watch God fulfill His word to His children! 

DeArmond-29 copyDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by Choice,  I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond.

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Join the conversation: What pot are you watching? What’s God asking you to let go of and give Him the control?