I’ve been drowning in waiting for a year’s worth of seasons.
Thankfully, verses about waiting often renew my hope. (I share some below.)
Because in the dozen months since the New England leaves last looked this brilliant, I’ve spent too much time “waiting.” Today as I ambled toward my Luke 5:16 spot under leaf canopies of gold, crimson, and deep mango, where I treasure a few minutes by the river whenever I can carve them out of a morning, I realized how thankful I am that God provides such vibrant beauty, even while we wait for winter’s harshness.
Again and again, annually, while we wait for the pending barrenness of winter, we are blessed with kaleidoscopic grace of fall.
Even with the chromatic reminders of God’s mercy and the hope that occasionally fills me during seasons of waiting, this fall isn’t easy for me.
Seasons of waiting
Spring brought news of my mom’s cancer and weeks of waiting for a diagnosis. Summer brought aches in corner’s of my heart that this momma hadn’t known to ever hurt before and months of waiting for calls from doctors’ offices about a daughter’s pain, letters from insurance departments, and appointments for diagnostic testing. Long, difficult days of… just… waiting. Late summer ushered my dad into his 80th year, while I quietly wait and watch my sweet parents age a little more every time I see them.
My recent homesteading failure
And then there was my recent homesteading failure that was the discouraging ending to 10 long months of waiting. Waiting for daily, fresh milk. Waiting to make fresh ice cream, and yogurt, and cool whip. We were all waiting on my daughter’s sweet holstein, whom she named Scout after the young heroine in To Kill A Mockingbird, to have her baby calf, so she would finally be providing our family with fresh milk every morning. Waiting 10 months to realize I still have so very much to learn about this whole homesteading thing and animal husbandry.
It took an experienced cattle farmer to point out to us that our holstein, who we thought came to us already pregnant, was not successfully bred last winter. We learned this just weeks before we expected a calf to arrive. So, all our waiting is now followed up with more waiting.
I have to wait another 10 months before we have fresh milk… Another 5 months before I can watch seeds sprout in our in-house greenhouse (aka any sunny window ledge the young gardener can confiscate)… Another 8 months to dig in the rich soil and plant promises of delicious food… All of these “waits” spilt through my thoughts last week as I tossed dying tomato plants, squash, and more from our garden’s rows. Scout was entertained, watching our every move.
My gardener and I, now that temps were below freezing at night, were clearing the patch of all but the pumpkins, beans, and broccoli, which still produce into the fall.
“Waiting” is like an heirloom seed
The gardener’s hair fell in wisps out of her long pony tail, over the navy Red Sox hoodie she had donned that morning, in honor of her team cinching the playoffs the night before. But she wasn’t thinking of Bett’s double or Papi stealing home as she knelt over the beautiful green leaves of a long row of carrots. She was thinking of last January. She was thinking of the hours spent pouring over seed choices, the pages devoted to journaling and garden sketches, and the joys resulting from her decision to grow all heirloom plants this year. She grew two different heirloom varieties of carrots; one being perfect for rocky New England soil, producing round balls of carrots that mature even when rocks try to impede their efforts.
“I’m so glad I planted these.” Her eyes crinkled with her smile as she held up a handful of little knobs of orange joy. “Mainly because not many people grow this kind of carrot anymore. It feels pretty satisfying to know that I grew something you can’t find easily. Anywhere.”
It dawns on me that waiting is like that. Waiting produces character traits and builds bonds that would be hard to find easily in any other way. Anywhere.
So maybe it’s not so bad that I have to wait another 8 months to dig in the rich New England soil that we call home. Another 8 months to enjoy the season I have recently decided is my favorite. Truth is, I haven’t always enjoyed much of a friendship with summer. The first 44 summers of my life I spent in the dry, humid mid-Atlantic states.
But ever since God called our family to set up a homestead in rural New England–on a farm poised at the edge of a lake and bordered by a slow-moving, lazy river–I struggle saying goodbye to summer.
New England’s summers are cool and breathtaking, not unlike her spring-fed lakes, always rewarding you if you just dive in. I learned 3 years ago, our first in New England, that I really do have to dive in quickly to the lakes (the sudden shock makes the swim exhilarating) and to the season (summer’s stay is too brief in our northern latitude). So as soon as the poplar tree blooms and the nuthatches and robins set up nests in our barn’s eaves, I’m in summer mode.
Even so, I was lamenting the hasty passing of summer’s soft, warm days and the short life of a New England tomato plant as I tore out brown, dying vegetable vines.
I was lamenting my goodbye to yet another summer.
Balms for my melancholy
But my daughter’s joy as she uncovered all her beautiful carrots (which are now tucked in a bucket, under a layer of dirt, in our root cellar) and her cow’s joy with the snacks we tossed her way (tomato vines and old bean pods) made me almost ready to embrace fall.
And there’s no denying that the vibrant foliage and cooking fires in the beehive oven are a beautiful balm to my end-of-summer melancholy.
But when I’m drowning in waiting for a year’s worth of seasons? These verses about waiting have helped me keep my head above water and my heart submerged in hope.
Verses about waiting that have encouraged me
The Lord longs to be gracious to you… Blessed are all who wait for Him! Isaiah 30:18
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29
Thinking of the way Atticus reminds Scout (our holstein’s namesake), in To Kill A Mockingbird, “Most people [are nice] when you finally see them,” I’m learning that most waiting is nice, when you finally see it for what it is: a time that God is busy molding you to be more like Christ.
So many times we just read the first verse in Romans 8:28-29. The one that assures us everything is gonna be alright. We stop there. But until we discover what “the good” is that God is working out, we tend to get frustrated while we wait.
But then we realize that “the good” is the fact that the time we’re waiting is truly productive.
We realize that “the good” is the fact that the time we’re waiting is conforming us to be like Christ.
Then we see waiting for what it is, and we see a reason to be thankful in the waiting. Please share, in the comments below, a favorite verse that has encouraged you lately.