Updated: Jan 9, 2021
Seasons of Preparation
We're told to expect the unexpected.
We talked about expectations last week, and this isn't really a part-two of it. At least, I didn't plan for this.
I actually thought I'd share some thoughts and truth I've been learning in another area of my life, but then something unexpected happened and changed my plans.
Not entirely unexpected. We were told a cold front was coming, maybe even snow.
But three waves of ice storms?
Some say, "Well, that's Oklahoma for ya."
And I get it. The weather here is crazy.
So are the allergies. I never knew what people went through with allergies until I moved here from the dry, (allergen-free, to me) West Texas and became one of them. My first year living here, I woke up in the middle of the night with one eye completely swollen shut.
I walked into my bathroom, and staring at my face in the mirror, I shrieked!
Y'all, I looked like Hitch. You know that scene after the food-tasting date when he has an allergic reaction and he's downing a bottle of Benadryll at the corner drug store?
Yep, that was me. Not the Benadryll part but the swollen eye part was staring back at me in my bathroom mirror.
It was too late (or too early, not sure which) to call anyone, so I sat in my bed frantically googling (with one eye) the causes for the immense puffy-ness and swollen-ness I was experiencing.
Not for the faint at heart. Nor are the ice storms here.
I've come to expect ice storms in the winter, but before the time changes?
No. It's not supposed to be this way, even for Oklahoma standards.
And it was not just one wave of ice. Not just two waves.
Two days before, I was walking around in sandals. Now, I find myself slipping my feet into a pair of thick, fuzzy socks and my insulated winter boots.
Again, it's October people!
Insulated boots weren't supposed to come out until closer to Thanksgiving.
Walking through my neighborhood, I notice something different about this ice storm.
Frozen before me and wrapped in a coat of ice, appearing more like glass art than frozen foliage, I see the geraniums in my front planters - frozen solid. Bright pink and green under a coat of ice.
I turn around and go back in the house for my camera. I needed to capture this.
Normally, it's frozen branches. And those can be pretty in and of themselves in the winter. But, this unexpected freeze allowed me to see the flowers and trees from a different point of view.
With the freezing rain hitting my face and bitter cold rushing in my nostrils and airways, I was determined to get a few pictures.
Out for another walk the next evening, I see the same sights. As you know, there are three waves of ice storms. At this time, we're persevering through the third wave, praying there's not a fourth on the way.
Although I see the same frozen flowers and trees before me, it means more to me this time.
A conversation I had with my pastor last week swirls to the front of my mind.
Not the whole conversation - although it, too, was entirely unexpected just like this storm. But one part in particular is brought to remembrance for me.
My pastor is great. He's down-to-earth and solid in his teaching. It is a gift to learn from him and also be known by him.
You see, I have a tendency to want to be a more private person. I'm like a candle with a new wick. I might take a few tries to light, but once I do, I share light and warmth with those around me. (So yeah, God is currently stretching me with this blog more than you can imagine.)
My pastor has had a front-row seat to one of the most pivotal events in my life this year. While he's encouraging me with truth to not lose heart, I found myself telling him, "Ya know, I'm ready for God to get this show on the road already!"
I smiled, because I meant it.
Let's go, God! I'm ready!!
C'mon. Have you ever felt like that?
God, why not now? What's going on? What's with all the waiting?
I'm right there with ya.
Strange how looking at frozen leafs and acorns and flowers prompted this memory.
...But not a coincidence.
You see, it's usually in these unexpected triggers of a memory or events around me that God is getting my attention. He often uses these things to teach me something. I've learned to lean in for a moment rather than quickly dismiss it away.
As I think about this a bit more and stare at the broken tree limbs all around me on this walk, I begin to connect the two.
Like I said, this freeze came early. It snuck up on us! I was still enjoying my sandals and long-sleeved shirt attire when BAM, out of no where, we're hit with a wave-on-wave-on-wave ice storm.
Don't miss this next part. This is important...
If this ice storm had happened during its usual time, it's likely there would have been broken limbs scattered throughout the neighborhoods, but not like this. This time, the flowers were still in bloom, the trees were still FULL of leaves - even the heavy acorns had not taken their courageous leaps to the ground yet.
I even heard a story on the news about a nearby pecan farm that was forced to shake the icy trees to try to harvest as many pecans as could be saved.
When the trees are full of foliage, the branches are heavier. When the branches are heavier and become covered with ice, the weight becomes too much pressure for the trunk to support and...
It cracks and breaks, falling abruptly and damaging every fence line, roof, sign, home, or car in its path to the ground. Perhaps even resulting in a total loss for the tree.
I began to realize the importance of seasons. This seems elementary at the surface, but I believe there's a powerful reminder for us in this. Stay with me.
Similar to the weather patterns and seasons of our year, each season plays a role. It's a role of preparation for what is coming.
The trees are designed to lose their leaves in the Fall. When this happens, the damage caused by the Winter storms and snow is minimal. Winter prepares the plants and trees for the new life of Spring. The new life prepares for the Summer blooms. And the cycle continues. Around and around and around we go, preparing for what lies ahead.
Us wanting to rush through a season of our lives, wanting to "get the show on the road already" and fast forward to the next scene or skip to the next chapter, is like this early freeze in October.
It's not time to jump into the next season yet. Doing so prematurely will cause the beauty of today to end before its time and may also cause damage or pain to us and those around us.
Truly, the weight of the next chapter of our lives may become too much pressure for the today-version of us to support and...
This season of wilderness, of preparation, is not intended to break us. Sure, it's refining us and stretching us, but God's desire is quite the opposite of breaking us.
He loves us too much to let us skip this season of preparation.
He knows it's hard for us to endure. Although He does not want us to suffer, He knows we would suffer much more in the future if we don't take time to prepare now and grow in our knowledge and trust of Him.
We need to know Him today so we trust Him more fully tomorrow.
We're not the only ones who want to move on to the next season in our lives. There was a lady named Sarah who felt this same way. You can read her story in Genesis 15-17, 21-22.
So here's Sarah. She has been promised a son, yet she is well beyond her child-bearing years. Things were not happening in her preferred timing or even the natural timing of her body.
What does she do? Well, what I am often tempted to do? Maybe you are, too?
She took things into her own hands. In short, Sarah said, "Okay, God. If you won't get this show on the road already, I will."
She had her husband, Abraham, have a child with her servant, Hagar. God gave them a child, but this was not His plan. This was not the child He had for Abraham and Sarah.
Sarah's intervention only caused more confusion and pain to the situation. Not to mention, damage - especially in her relationship with Hagar. She was harsh and Hagar fled.
God eventually gave Sarah and Abraham the son He promised, and they named him Isaac.
The long, wilderness season Sarah had to endure before entering into the promise God had for her was preparation. She tried to end it early, but doing so only added to her current suffering.
She was trying to intervene as God, but she was not God.
How many times do we try to intervene as God? For me, it's easier to try to make something work than wait and trust.
Sarah needed this season. She was being prepared for what came next. She needed to learn how to trust God when His plan doesn't seem to make any sense. Soon, she would have to watch her husband leave with her beloved son on a three-day journey that she would not understand.
Why would God promise me a child and then instruct us to sacrifice him?
I can't imagine the tenderness of Sarah's heart in this moment. But I do believe even in this, she remembered the season before where she learned how to trust God beyond what she could see before her. She remembered His faithfulness in her barrenness and trusted God even now.
I have to believe she was praying on her knees during these three days, asking God to provide.
So here I am doing the same.
I'm tempted to take things into my own hands and try to "get this show on the road already," but the thing is, I don't want Candace's best attempt.
I want nothing less than God's best for me.
That alone is giving me the strength to be still and wait upon the Lord. Like Sarah, I don't understand, but I'm on my knees asking God to provide.
Although this season of wilderness is long and lonely, let's resist the urge to press the fast forward button. Let's do this by coming off our feet and onto our knees.
Here, we'll find a deeper strength than we've ever known to endure the day before us. Here, we'll find God has not forgotten us. We'll find joy in His nearness and peace in the careful way He is preparing us.
Let's rest from our doing and choose contentment even in the unexpected, unwanted seasons of life.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!