In the afternoon sun, the autumn grass glistens as if dusted in gold leaf. Warm, halcyon hues are the ground cover. The crisp leaves turn over one another in the gentle breeze—they make music—a stirring song that is familiar to every ear during this season. We all sing it together.
I am pausing this afternoon, sitting on a bench lakeside drinking in the change of seasons. I want to fold myself up in autumn like a blanket; I want to breathe it in like the steam off of a cup of fresh, hot tea. In this small piece of the world, nature is surrendering itself into the upcoming coma of wintertime. Why is that so beautiful? Every leaf losing its chlorophyll-green, dehydrating, curling, falling, crunching into dust. The colors are magnificent, the resignation lovely. Nature is so very trusting—expecting that, after the surrender of autumn and the death of winter, it is guaranteed the rebirth of spring.
I sit here and wonder why, for me, it is so very hard to trust.
I feel as if I have been sitting on this lakeside bench for over four years waiting for God to move, to renew my circumstances and make my life what I expect it to look like by now. Everything else moves and shifts around me; people move on passing by my bench, the sun rises and sets, seasons spin by as time races forward, and I sit. I wait.
Oh, how prideful I am! To expect my life to look certain ways at certain times? To believe that God owes me something more than He’s giving to me already? I am full of selfishness, and it’s dark and sticky and weighty like tar. There is nothing wrong with the desire for onward movement, for a new chapter, for growth—it is healthy—but there is something wrong with the not trusting. And with the believing that I am owed or entitled to something better.
A family of ducks waddle towards the water’s edge through the leaves, murmuring to one another. The first one to reach the lake and glide in, a female of a dusty brown color, swirls happily in the shallow water and the others follow her lead. The afternoon sun reflects sharply off of the water. They are weightless in the liquid, swimming on top of the cool, grey surface proudly. The breeze tosses a few leaves into the lake and they float like the ducks; near the bench where I am sitting, more leaves fall towards my feet.
My thoughts go back to when I visited friends a couple of weeks ago, they urged me to take a breath in of the fallen leaves. One of them gathered their fists full of the yellow and orange and red things and thrusted them to my face—just smell them, my friends pleaded—and I inhaled full. The leaves smelled of spice and dust and fresh air, like cinnamon-earth.
Nature trusts effortlessly, letting leaves fall and crumble—it has faith in that surrendering itself fully produces beauty in the end. To me, surrender would mean being fully content and trusting of Jesus in the waiting time. In the time when it seems nothing is happening to move my life onward, forward.
I have to admit, the waiting does produce a sort of sweetness. Just as sitting on this bench near the lake—rather than tromping quickly down the trail to finish the hike—allows me to take in golden sights that others might have missed. I feel in the obedience of the waiting for God to move I have experienced a sweetness with Him—the trusting that He knows where we are going, that it’s ok to sit and wait, that He knows what I need better than I do.
The sun is making it’s way further down in the creamy sky. Pretty soon, the horizon will be set ablaze and I will have to shield my eyes when facing west, lest they be full of sharp tears from watching the sky burn out in it’s usual sunsetting way. There happens to be a long stick bug slowly moving across the middle of the path. It is as dark brown as the mud on which it walks, and acts as if it is in no hurry, although I can clearly see the two walkers headed down the path in his direction. I wonder if he knows?
I watch him closely; he lifts one front leg up and reaches far, gingerly placing it down and taking one careful step. Next, a back leg—which looks like the finest of dry pine needles—slowly rises, stretches long, and sets itself back down and further ahead in it’s path. I watch him like this for some time before becoming quite concerned for his future; he is completely competent to cross his way over the mud and mulched bark into the grass and out of the walking path, but I highly doubt he will make it in time. I make the executive decision to interfere, as the walkers are approaching fast, and I pick him up in my hands.
His twig legs prick against my pink palms lightly, his antennae twitch back and forth curiously. I walk him slowly over to the grass and set him down gently, the leaves crunching under us—the two unlikeliest of travel partners. The stick bug continues with his slower than slow crawl out of my hands and into blades of grass. He seems unimpressed by my assistance, but my conscience can rest easy now.
Oh, to have the luxury of moving slowly! To feel as if one can take their time! I am envious of the stick bug and his patient, graceful walk.
Oh, I hate the waiting. I get angry at the “waiting on God” thing and I am not graceful at moving slowly. But how good of a God He is, to sit with me in the waiting, to pour His mercy and grace over me, to listen to me whine, and to help me see the beauty all around the bench on which I have been sitting. Just being with Him is what can make the waiting sweet.
Oh Jesus, your presence—just to be with you—is so much sweeter, so much more to be sought after than getting my own way and getting things quickly. Lord, would you teach my fickle heart to be grounded in you! That I would be a woman who plants her feet on the firm Rock, whose legs are strong for running the race long, and whose face is bright from turning to you. Jesus, would you give me endurance to obey, and faith enough to be patient on my own God.
Although I admittedly hate the waiting, it has taught me all the good things that I know. In the waiting I have learned what I was built for.
You see, we were not built for only living a life in which we seek to find the perfect job, the perfect spouse, buy the perfect gigantic house and gamble on business investments perfectly in order to keep affording the gigantic houses, have the children and raise them perfectly, do something that makes us a little well known in our communities, take the perfect pictures to send to friends and leave to loved ones, and then die perfectly and soundly in our sleep.
No, I am built for the glory of God.
I was not built for running a rat race or climbing a latter of superficial successes and racing towards the finish line of having a healthy retirement account.
I am built for passion and longing, I am built for seeking and finding. I am built to find absolute and perfect fulfillment in the goodness of who God is and all that He has made, all that He is making new. I am to have a hand in His plan, whether I am moving forward or sitting still, I am to glorify him in all seasons.
Knowing Jesus, loving Jesus, glorifying Him through trusting in Him, that is what I am built for. This love makes me wish I could reach up high and touch the glory, grasp it tight, and pull it right down into this desolate land-of-waiting that I am in—it would be almost like grabbing a fist-full of pure, golden autumn sky and pulling it to earth. Grass glistening as if dusted in gold leaf. Hope and beauty and truth and goodness raining down in every season.
To glorify Him in the waiting time, in the growing time, the moving time, and the hoping time—that is what I am built for. I hope to find contentment in obedience—to be as contently obedient as earth is to the change in seasons. Whether in the waiting or the moving season, I want every inhale of mine to be full of satisfaction, and every exhale full of humble gratitude to the Lord that built me for His glory.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.