This week in worship we will be exploring the question: How can we know God’s will for our lives? The fancy word for trying to figure out what God is leading us to is “discernment.” Discernment is a difficult thing, especially because it can take so much time!
I don’t know about you all, but I often struggle with patience. I love this old FedEx commercial because I think it captures what a fast-paced world that we live in. Take a look.
This week, was Earth Day. Apart from Jesus, nature is my favorite teacher. I love this quote from poet and naturalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He writes: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Nature has taught me a lot about the type of patience required in discernment. A few years ago, for instance, I set out to start a garden. I nurtured my seeds into fragile little seedlings over the course of a few weeks and I was filled with joy when it came time to plant them. Unfortunately, the morning after I had planted, I went out to check on the garden, only to find that a squirrel (the “evil one”) had snatched up my seedlings. The only problem was I couldn’t be sure if the little booger had taken all of my plants, so I tended and watered the soil as if something might be within it.
James 5:7-8, talks about this sort of waiting: “Be patient, therefore, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
As Christians, I believe we have a calling to learn to wait patiently in hope. There are so many areas in our lives that look like the fallow soil in my garden. We don’t know if anything will come up. All we can do is wait carefully and patiently.
There are so many situations in which we just don’t know the future. Take these for instance: Will the treatment work? Will I be able to find a job? Will I find a partner? Will our marriage work? Will our baby be healthy? Will my granddaughter make good choices? Will we ever get along again? Will I ever see him/her again? Will today be a good day? Will I make the right choice? Will I make a difference? Will the darkness ever pass?
In mid-late summer, I started noticing new growths in my garden, a bell-pepper plant or two, 2-3 carrots, 5-6 radishes and what I didn’t expect, little oak tree seedlings. The new life that came up wasn’t as illustrious as I had hoped for, but after a spring of waiting and hoping, the fruit of my garden brought me more joy than I could have expected.
I say all of this to inspire and challenge you towards prayer this week. What is an area in which you are discouraged by uncertainty? Commit the situation or the question that overwhelms you to God in prayer. Practice waiting upon God’s faithfulness, understanding that the new life God might bring may be unexpected, but will be good.
– Rev. Katherine Ebling-Frazier