I love lilacs. They are one of the first flowers that I identified with as a child. I think it is because my mom loved lilacs. We had a bush around our house. Each spring my mom would cut some of the fragrant blooms and arrange them in a white with green-leaved-patterned vase and place it on the stereo system cabinet in the living room. (This was the place for any floral arrangement.) The blooms were so fragrant, wafting throughout our split-level home.
When we bought our present house, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were lilacs on the border of our side yard. My surprise was short-lived however when I discovered that the bushes belonged to the neighbors next door. Then one year, the bush spread out and sent a root under the fence into our yard. Calling on the neighborhood law of “if it hangs or comes over to your side (the imaginary line in the middle of two properties) you have the right to do anything with it.” So, I dug up the lilac wanderer and transplanted it to another area in our garden.
When I transplanted it, the lilac was only a stick. Many times I had to remind myself not to pull it out. Over the years, the stick grew. After it grew into a recognizable bush form it appeared healthy yet still there were no blooms in sight.
This year- voila! It has not one or two blooms, but is full of them. When I first saw it, I was so excited. I did my spring clean-up late this year so was shocked to see the blooms. The more I have been puttering around the garden, the more I have enjoyed the entire bush: its delicious scent, the gentle rustling of the heart-shaped leaves, and the space it now occupies in the garden.
It has made me think about life and time.
We (and I include myself most definitely in that collective) are impatient people, wanting things here and now. Sadly, that is my nature more than I care to admit or want to behave. I am especially impatient with God. Why hasn’t this happened, NOW? Or I will demand action from Him when I think there has been sufficient time between the initial request. How absurd and foolish on my part. Who am I to think that I can speak to the Creator of time in that way?
God’s timing is not our own. There are many examples in the Bible and in people’s lives (myself included) that things happen in a completely different time frame than from what is expected. Noah and his family and ALL the animals waited inside the arc for over a week before any rain fell. Sarah and Abraham waited twenty-five years from the promise of a great nation to when Isaac was born. David waited over fifteen years from when he was anointed king to when he actually ruled.
Time and time again in my life I have had delays in situations that I thought should’ve been handled more quickly. I think of the time when we were trying to sell our former house. It was the home my husband lived in as a bachelor and then we lived there as a married couple. But, after our first child was born, we knew we needed to move into a bigger abode. We tried selling it ourselves and then with a realtor.
Nada. Nothing. No bites. I would see other houses that would sell but ours didn’t. I kept praying, “Please Lord. You know how cramped we are. Please bring the right buyer for our home.” Eventually we decided to take the home off the market and make the best of the situation.
Two years later, we were expecting another child. We thought “this is a good time to sell and look for another house.” So, we put the house on the market. We had a different agent and a different plan.
Once again, Nada. Nothing. No bites. Not that we didn’t have people look at the house: we had a blind person”feel” the walls and property, a doctor inquiring if it would be a medical office (did I say that it was located on a hill- very steep steps from the main road to the front door?), numerous people asking about the third bedroom (of which there was none- otherwise we might have stayed ourselves).
Time passed. Our second son was born and we decided, I guess the timing wasn’t right again.
Unbeknownst to us, our realtor hadn’t removed the MLS listing. We got a call about two weeks after we took our house off the market- someone wanted to look at the house. Not only look but purchase! It was an answer to prayer. The thing is, only now as we look back do we see God’s perfect timing: by the time we were to buy the house, we received some inherited funds that allowed us to not worry about mortgage payments. As we experienced some lean times over the subsequent years (another story of God’s provision) we were able to not worry about mortgage bills.
Had I had my impatient way- buying a house a couple of years earlier- we would’ve been living in a much-too-big-for-us-to-afford-type house, our children wouldn’t have lived around the corner from Grandparents nor would they have learned the lesson of financial peace and security.
God’s timing is not our timing. It is better.
If our lilac had bloomed initially when it was a stick, it would’ve been straggly. The blooms would’ve been too much for developing branches and might have caused the bush to become stressed, diseased and died. As it looks now, it is well shaped, the limbs can withstand the heavy blossoms, and I suspect that next year we will get even more blossoms.
Sometimes we are not developed enough to withstand the full force of the situation we are asking God. If I had married the person that I thought was “THE one” of my teenage years who knows what disaster would’ve befallen me. I needed to grow up and experience life before I was ready to meet and marry my husband.
Sometimes the waiting isn’t all about us and our specific needs. While God’s ways are mysterious and He has the power to meet everyone’s needs simultaneously, sometimes our waiting is what is needed for the situation to work out for someone else. In the case of our selling our former home, my husband’s grandfather was waiting to see his second great-grandson. Our son was only three days old when we brought him to the nursing home. Pop got to hold him and visit for an afternoon. The next morning Pop died in his sleep. He was a couple months shy of his 103rd birthday when he met our son.
What about you? Do you have plans or are in a situation that seems to not be moving along or growing in any way? Are you tired of waiting? Do you feel that everyone else is blooming around you and you are not?
Hang in there. I know that I am. Some days the wait is really hard but it is worth it. Look at my lilacs!
Some verses to help keep you going. No surprise that many of the encouraging verses comes from the Psalms- the most authentic, “this is how I feel” verses in the Bible. I know that I have to hold on to them, some days more tightly than others:
I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40: 1-3)
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. (Psalm 37: 7-9)
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:3)