I looked out my window today expecting to hear the sound of geese flying over head, and see Robins gathering worms on my lawn. Instead, I was greeted by the the sight of another layer of snow that came with a brisk north wind, and the weatherman’s prediction of freezing temperatures for the greater portion of the week. This is NOT my idea of a fulfilled promise for the long-awaited arrival of Spring.
Those of us who have spent our lives in upstate New York, understand all too well, the reality of what can come our way this time of year. We are not shocked when one week is warm, and the soft breeze is summer-like. The snow melts and out come the motorcycles and bar-b-que grills. The lawns get raked on those beautiful, sunny days, and life feels good. This can be followed by an arctic blast that rips down from Canada. Snow covers the newly thawed land, and everything is frozen solid again. As one neighbor of mine so aptly put it, “this weather is like manic-depression, with no meds”.
Yet, even during the fridge, snowy return of winter, there also comes a glimmer of hope. Small “snow flowers” in my garden press through the cold, white covering, and lift their flowered heads toward daylight. No matter how bitter it gets, or how much it snows, these flowers always, and I mean always, come up. They continue to blossom through the worst of it, and this is a powerful reminder to me that delayed hope is just that. It is hope in a season of delay until the promised answer finally comes…… and it always comes!
We all have hopes and dreams that impact our lives deeply. They can come in a hundred different forms, and each profoundly changes the way we view everything. We look to the future for better jobs, closer relationships with those we love, financial development, physical healing and emotional growth. This is because no one wants to stay as they are, or in the same situation, from now until the day they die. Our dreams and visions are what compel us to do new things, climb that next mountain and take risks. Without a vision of promise, the Bible says, “the people perish”. We need this if we are going to be healthy, and obtain the very things for which we were placed here on earth.
However, there is the proverbial “monkey wrench” in the gears of life that can knock the strongest of us to our knees. There are times when our promise gets delayed, and there is nothing we can do about it. Things can get held up and stalled, for no apparent reason, and this sets up a conflict. Nothing anyone does or says helps to explain it. Worse yet, is the fact that in those times even God is often silent, other than to whisper, “Do you trust Me?” It is in these moments of delayed promise that we must make a decision which goes contrary to the very nature within us. The “somehow there must be a way I can fix it” attitude we fall back on, has to be held in check or even worse things can happen.
Years ago, one of my best friends had an experience with delay that taught him a very profound lesson. He and his family were in a van headed to the store. They were running late and proceed to hit every red light in town. After the second or third red light in a row, he was getting very impatient and was planning to jump the light. The moment it turned green, he hit the gas pedal, and for no apparent reason, his engine die on the spot. In anger, he jam on the brakes, put it in park and turned the key in the ignition. At that very moment, a huge truck blew right through the light, inches from the front of his vehicle. Had he not experienced that moment of delay, they would have all been killed.
Has your promise been delayed? Is the hope you once had now fading into the distance? Could it be that your unfulfilled promises are really God’s way of keeping you safe and teaching you what you need to know for the day it comes? If you feel the cold north wind of empty promises swirling around you, let me suggest that it’s time to begin looking for the snow flowers. It’s time to refocus your attention on the good all around you that has already happened. Develop a heart of gratitude for what is still growing in the snow storm. It is this kind of resilience, at just the right time, that has the power to prepare you and propel you into your future.
It is true that a change of thinking will not stop the snow from falling outside my window. However, it is also true that the internal change I make about it impacts my heart, and that my friends will stop ME from falling. Learning how to patiently wait in a silent season of delay is the treasure I am after. Remember, during a test the teacher never speaks. If God is silent in your current season, it’s just a test, and you can do more than simply endure the delay. You can flourish in it and be better equipped to enjoy the promise that is yet to come. So, stop the whining… follow directions…. do your best… and when it’s over, every promised blessing God is holding for you, will be handed over to you.