Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unexpected Hope

It had been a nearly perfect day to end off my spring break.  The sun had been shining, the temperature was warm enough for shirt sleeves (almost outright hot in the sun!), and I'd spent the day visiting with dear friends. It was evening now, about 7pm and there was one thing left one my list of things I wanted to do on break: Watch the sunset.  I would have preferred to go to the lake to watch, but that wasn't an option (and we do have lakes in Michigan), so I headed out to the soccer fields.  On the way I met a friend who said that she thought we were in for a spectacular sunset.  The cloud cover seemed just right, it was warm out.  My heart was happy.  I was looking forward to a spectacular sunset with bright, vivid colors.  Iowa has some pretty spectacular sunsets and I was ready to be romanced by my King.
I settled down onto my perch on the hill by the soccer fields, my camera in hand, a bag of grapes and my water bottle beside.  My Bible lay open on the ground beside me. My journal was in my bag so that I could jot down prayers or thoughts that came to me.  It was going to be a great night.
Then I saw it.  A massive cloud mass coming in from the north.  It all but obscured the sunset.  My heart sank. This was not going to be the spectacular sunset I had hoped for. I dropped my gaze to the grass and concentrated on eating my grapes, pouting a little on the inside.  I glanced up again and realized that the colors had changed. I watched in awe as the colors morphed, very slowly, before my eyes.  The changes were almost indiscernible.  I noticed them most when I looked away for a time, to study my text that I'll be preaching on it a week or to pick the perfect grape out of my bag.  When I looked back, it would have morphed into a new type of beauty.  It wasn't the spectacular sunset I had hoped for, it was far better, for in the slow, gradual changes, I found a lesson.
Often we come before G-d expecting something big.  We ask for healing and expect it to come right away, in a big, spectacular sort of way.  We ask for Him to remove the storms from our lives and expect them to be gone like the waves and wind in Mark 4.  We ask Him to free us from our demons and expect them to thrown into the abyss immediately.  But it doesn't work that way.  We don't get a big spectacular healing, the storms are still there and the demons still haunt us.  We are disappointed and pout.  We know that we serve a big G-d, a G-d who has a history of doing spectacular things.  We have seen spectacular things in the past.  Why not today?  Why not this time?  Why not in this situation?
It is then that we need to realize that G-d is working.  He is making changes.  He has something far greater to teach us through the small gradual, barely indiscernible, changes.  Slowly He is bringing healing.  Slowly He is calming our storms.  Slowly He is freeing us from our demons.   Sometimes He chooses to respond in spectacular ways, but far more often, it is the slow and steady that He uses to romance us.  It doesn't mean He isn't answering our prayers or that He isn't working.  He's just working in a different way.  Just like the sun was still setting.

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