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Tag: Prodigal son

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Ice Doesn’t Melt at 31 Degrees

We had our first snow up in New England the day after Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like frosty weather to set us in the mood for Christmas. For some of us (usually those who still have shopping to do), the big day comes much too fast. For others, especially over-excited children, Christmas day can’t arrive fast enough. When my boys were younger, we always had to do a Christmas chain or advent calendar so they could see the days getting closer. Otherwise, I’d be plagued with, “How many more days?”

Waiting can be excruciating.

When I train any new greeters to the first impressions team at my church, I have them envision the father of the prodigal son watching the horizon, day in and day out, hoping to spy the silhouette of his son in the distance. Or I have them picture a mother who gets on her knees every morning and in earnest prays for her son or daughter to come back to the Lord. Every day they prayed, and each day they battled discouragement when nothing changed. However, this could be the day. The prodigal son could wake up and realize he doesn’t need to starve to death and can return home to his father’s house. This could be the day that a daughter, who had nowhere else to turn, remembers her friend who invited her to church. Today could be the day, and if you were the mother whose knees were worn from praying or the father whose eyes were strained from staring at the horizon, how would you want your son or daughter to be welcomed?

Waiting can be frustrating

dog waiting

Nothing happens to water until it reaches 32 degrees. Until that marker, ice won’t melt and water won’t freeze, but once the temperature hits that degree, things start to happen. Life can be a lot like water. We wait and we wait, and nothing seems to happen. I remember growing so frustrated in hoping for a book contract, questioning whether the desire I felt to write was actually God’s plan for my life. Discouraged was an understatement, but I kept putting my fingers to the keyboard. I’d written five and a half books (some of which will never leave my computer) before a publishing house reached out to me and then a second shortly after—all those years of hoping and waiting, and then wham, three books released in six months.

Waiting doesn’t mean forgotten

Joseph waited in a jail cell for a crime he didn’t commit, and after interpreting the baker and cupbearer’s dreams, he asked them to remember him so he could be freed. What happened after the baker and cupbearer were released from jail? Well, the baker was beheaded, but the cupbearer promptly forgot the man who’d helped him, so Joseph continued to wait in prison. It wasn’t until Pharaoh needed a dream interpreted that the cupbearer remembered Joseph and Joseph was brought before the king. In all that waiting, God never forgot about Joseph.

Waiting is a development period

Waiting can be a time for learning, developing, and understanding ourselves better. With me, I learned a lot about writing (what to do and what not to do) through those first books and by reading everything about the craft I could find. While waiting in the jail, Joseph was put in charge of managing the prisoners, which developed skills to help him later manage all of Egypt. He also grew in humility and wisdom. As a boy, Joseph hadn’t used discretion when telling his brothers about his dreams that they would someday bow down to him. Having three boys myself, I understand how such comments from a younger brother wouldn’t be well-received. God used this waiting period to teach Joseph and change his heart toward his brothers.

If you’re in a waiting period, God hasn’t forgotten about you or your prayers. Use the time to understand what God is trying to teach you, and don’t give up hope. Ice won’t melt at 31 degrees, but a lot can change with one degree.

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Hand holding a young plant

If a Seed can Bloom 30,000 Years Later, Hope Remains.

Biologists found a fossilized seed of the narrow-leafed campion plant dating back Narrow-leaf campion bloomed 30,000 years laterfrom the Ice Age. It lay frozen in a squirrel burrow in the Siberian permafrost. Using growth hormones, scientists were able to revitalize the plant, and it bloomed over 30,000 years later in the future of today.

We have a small garden in our backyard. My family loves to plant corn, not only because they enjoy the fruit (or vegetable), but because the green shoots appear soon after planting them. Initially, the kids are all excited to plant the garden. They get out the trowel and the seed packets and start digging. The soil is patted down and watered with great care for the next few days. Then, the wait gets to them, and they lose interest. That’s usually when the corn shoots begin to pop up, and their excitement is renewed. Unfortunately, not all seeds are like corn. Some take longer than others, and it’s harder to keep up the enthusiasm when it appears like nothing is happening.

In this day and age, everything is instant. Did you know that there are microwave directions for Pop Tarts? As if the two minutes in the toaster takes much too long. When my children were younger, I had the realization of how on-demand our society had become when my kids would yell from the other room, “Mama, commercials,” so I could fast forward to their cartoon.

I’ll admit, patience is not my strong suit. I’m an amazon prime member so I can get two-day delivery. I love to use the drive-thru, I rent on-demand movies, and I don’t know what I’d do without my smartphone with its instant access to the internet, contact lists, email, music, google maps, etc. It’s made me much more efficient. Yet some things in God’s kingdom are not like the corn seed. It takes a lot of love, care, and great perseverance before it will come to pass.

Sowing takes effort, but reaping takes patience. I always think about the father of the prodigal son. How many days did he go out into that field? How long did he stare off into the horizon hoping to see his son’s figure trudging over the hill?

Hand holding a young plantJust because we can’t see anything happening doesn’t mean it won’t. You can’t see the seed taking root once it’s planted. Some people are like corn and germinate quickly. Others take longer (hopefully not as long as the narrow-leafed campion). Sometimes God is still preparing their hearts. Sometimes our prayers, displays of love, or testimonies are needed to cultivate the soil. Sometimes, God hasn’t released His spirit, but when He does, it will do more than we can possibly imagine. It says in Galatians 6:7b “You will always harvest what you plant” and in 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Whatever plants, dreams, hopes, and people you are waiting to bloom, do not give up. Do not get discouraged. Keep praying, keep cultivating the soil. Wait patiently for the harvest for it will be bountiful.

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