Murphys, CA…We are constantly living in anticipation of something. We are part of a society that prides itself on its efficiency. We are frustrated when the fast food drive-thru takes too long or gets our order wrong. We get annoyed at traffic going less than 80 mph or by tourists who obviously are unsure of what lane they should be in. So how can we possibly handle a God that answers prayers in His time, and doesn’t give us exactly what we think we want?
I think often it is difficult for people to discern when they are waiting with patience as opposed to failing to be motivated. Americans proudly proclaim if they are of a Type A personality. We admire aggressive leaders in business. Those who climb corporate ladders quickly are certainly financially rewarded. So how can we reconcile these attitudes with a Godly patience? It’s not easy!
First of all, if we never sit quietly we will never hear God’s plan in the first place! Daily prayer is an absolute necessity. It is only in stillness that we will actually be graced with His voice. During these times, you will gain clarity and develop new insight that you never even considered amidst the noise of everyday life. Often times, I have gone around and around a problem, trying to find a solution, only to have, during prayer, a path emerge that had not even crossed my mind. This occurred most recently after a business decision had been delayed for almost a year. Nothing I could think of felt right. Nothing I decided worked out smoothly. After a time of quiet, that was dedicated not to my business or making money, but to service and to giving glory to God, the answer appeared. The next day, the plan came to complete fruition, with no obstacles whatsoever. “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7).
Sometimes, our plans may actually be fairly good ones. But if we don’t wait and listen, we do not allow God to modify our plan. After all, His is always better. As we quickly try to force things to happen, we fail to see God’s true path. This is often the case in business, but also in personal relationships. We are so eager to move forward with things that look good or feel good, that we don’t consider everything carefully. We quickly commit ourselves to things or people that ultimately are not what we want or need. If intimacy or commitment has already occurred, we have nothing but being trapped or a lifetime of regret.
I’ve noticed over the last year in particular, that most beauty unfolds slowly. Forgiveness which I wrote about in last week’s column is truly a slow process, especially in the case of a deep hurt. Healing, of any form, is also very slow. I waited last year for a drug trial to begin for four months. All the while, I was dying. I was being filled with cancerous growth. My pain increased day by day. I became more and more sickened by bureaucracy. Eventually, my melanoma spread to my brain while waiting, and I was kicked out of the trial less than a week before it started. So, believe me, I know the pain of waiting. However, where am I now? I immediately started on a different drug that God used to heal me. The months of painful waiting became my miracle! “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
I had received an orchid as a gift from one of my doctors when I was in the hospital last spring, when we were trying month-long high-dose chemotherapy. Once I returned home, the flowers eventually fell off and I was left with some scraggly sticks in a pot. I didn’t have the heart to throw it out. I had no idea if the flowers would ever return, and actually highly doubted it since I am as challenged with gardening as I am with cooking! When I got a new house, I even took “the sticks” with me, and placed them prominently on the center of my table in my new dining room. About a month ago, the most beautiful large white blooms began appearing. I was brought to tears. They opened one by one, so slowly, I was in awe. If it had happened any faster, it would have failed to be quite as touching.
I think one of the most spectacular forms of patience is actually realizing the gifts He has given me, and the plans He has for me. I’ll admit, I am an optimist. First of all, I know that this is not my home. I am here to learn to be more Christ-like, to become prepared to perform a much greater service in heaven. Also it is because I believe in God’s Word and live it every day. God tells me in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a plan for me, a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, with hope and a future. Sometimes, it includes suffering, but I rejoice in that as well. I am always eager to see for what He is training me, or what untold blessings will be coming to me. But at times, I don’t even wait patiently enough to fully realize these gifts. I may instantly rejoice thinking I have seen His glory, only for more and more to unfold over time.
This cancer has actually saved me from danger. It has freed me from bad habits. It has inspired me to spread His word more passionately. It has helped others to rejoice in their own trials. It has moved people to spend more time with their loved ones, including their Heavenly Father. It has brought new people into my life. It has drawn non-believers to God. Really, there are too many blessings to even mention! But I see with each passing day, as I wait patiently, more of His glory and beauty unfolding, just like my orchid.
Editors Note…Catherine’s fight with cancer and the manner in which she has fought it publicly has been an inspiration to many. If you would like some context and a more personal look at her battle you can find it on the Caring Bridge Website Here! We would like to welcome Catherine as one of our contributors and we hope her story can help you along your journey in life.