I dare say that this year "Winter" should be renamed "Waiting." Maybe every year it should. And while I'm speaking more from personal waiting (on jobs, children, a place to put down roots, etc), I was thinking this week about how each winter is really a season of waiting - and more so than the other 3 seasons. Each winter (as it grows longer and longer with each passing week and month!) we yearn - we WAIT - for the newness of spring and it's life-giving sprouts, buds, warmth.
Similarly, Mark and I find ourselves looking forward to the next season of our lives as his studies here will (at least in some form) come to an end in a few months. We look forward to what new things lie ahead, what new joys there might be. But, at the same time, we WAIT.
Like all periods of waiting I find myself driven closer to our Father, totally dependent on Him and His plans and timing - daily needing to offer to Him my plans and what I want. These past 6 months or so (or maybe even longer!) I have repeatedly cried out for His help as I WAIT. I've learned I'm not very patient in the WAIT. I want things NOW and in MY time. Repeatedly God has said WAIT.
I've been participating the past month in a ladies small group with some friends here. We've been going through the book "A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World" by Paul E. Miller. It has been a refreshing look at how to pray, why we pray, when to pray, etc. And while (like most Christian-living type books) there are things I don't agree with that are said, there are many ideas Miller presents that have just made sense. I have repeatedly been challenged to review my beliefs on prayer, as well as my practices. If you feel your prayer life needs a jump start or tune-up, this may just be the book for you!
As I was reading one of the chapters this week, there was some Scripture quoted from Psalm:
"O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh faints for You,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Psalm 63:1)
In the midst of my own personal "dry and weary land" (known as "the land of waiting") I was convicted that in my heart (and subsequently in my prayers) I have rewritten the verse along these lines:
"O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek Your plans;
my soul thirsts for Your answers;
my flesh faints for You to do things my way...."
This wasn't the first time in this season of waiting that God has challenged me about what I am truly seeking after each day. Do I seek HIM or do I just seek what things He can give me? There is a huge, but sometimes subtle, difference. Not to say that we can't seek His wisdom, or pray for our heart's desires, or ask things from Him (because He tells us to do all those things in Scripture!), but rather to make the distinction of what my heart longs after MOST. I have come to see that often I am just praying and seeking for results from God rather than desiring most to know and love Him - which is more what prayer is about - cultivating a relationship with God my Father.
So as our season of waiting goes on and on (just as the winter rages on!), I am striving to seek God Himself, hopeful that when He chooses for this season to be over I will know Him more intimately, and also take great delight in the paths He will lead us down - just as I am joyful each year when spring arrives and refreshes my soul.