"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly."
We are all waiting. Each day we all find ourselves waiting in one way or another. We wait in line at the grocery story. We wait for our flight to arrive. We wait for the stoplight to turn green and we wait for our much anticipated Christmas package to finally be delivered to us. Sometimes we are more patient than others, but through it all we’ve come to understand that these delays are not only to be expected, they’re inevitable. Waiting is just part of life. But when it comes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father, it’s one of the most important parts.
To illustrate this, I want to tell you about a tree called the lodgepole pine. It’s a tree that primarily grows in the Northwest US and like so many other examples in creation it tells a story of the Father’s heart toward us. This particular pine is so interesting because of the way it reproduces itself. Each cone on these trees is covered with a very thick resin, which protects and seals the seeds inside the cone until the proper time. As they fall to the ground they often remain under the tree for years at a time, seemingly unfruitful because there is only one thing that can release them. Heat. HIGH heat. In fact studies have shown that forest fires are one of the only naturally occurring events that are hot enough to melt this resin and release the seeds into the soil. A warm summer day or a heat wave simply won’t cut it it. As are result, there are often incredibly dense forests of lodgepole pines simply because of all the seed-filled cones which were grouped together on the ground; each one waiting for their environment to be just right for them to do what they were created to do. And you know what? After the fire has come and gone these trees absolutely thrive in the midst of what seems like complete devastation. Their seeds love the carbon rich soil left over from a fire and their seedlings pop up almost immediately after the blaze has subsided, revealing a brand new creation. To the lodgepole pine, fires are not only anticipated, they’re essential.
As we enter this Christmas season each of us is likely waiting on something far more important than a much anticipated gift or the thinning of a grocery line. We are waiting on God. Some of us are waiting for a better health report. Some may be praying for restoration of a family member and many still may be waiting for direction on what feels like an impossible decision. No matter what we are looking to Jesus for, he knows our struggle. He went through the fire too. And just like the lodgepole pine, he is carefully crafting us to be used by him and for him at exactly the right time. The heat that we experience in our trials and struggles is certainly uncomfortable, but it is beautifully essential to our growth in Christ. You see it is in the heat of the waiting where we discover what we were made for. It’s a refining process where we move beyond just knowing about our Father and we’re lead into a place of deep intimacy and trust in him. We learn to depend on him in our trial because after all the things we thought defined us are burned away, he’s all we have left. As we intently seek the Lord in our waiting and in our fires, we will always find our purpose and discover his heart. Nothing is wasted.
So if today you find yourself in the fire, be encouraged. What often appears to us as complete devastation, certain death or total loss is at this very moment being carefully re-made by the hands of our loving Father. So whatever it is you find yourself waiting on, it’s not the end. It’s the beginning of a brand new miracle.
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
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