Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Anticipation, surprise bring growth

Anticipation. While we were enduring snowstorms and below-zero temps in greater quantity through the winter, I was anticipating spring. Grass greening. Phlox showing its lavender color as it would spill out of the pot by our front door.

Our crab apple tree blooming. The fragrance of lilacs filling the air. What I anticipated has arrived. Spring. Yes.

In fact, our crab apple tree’s deep pink blooms have already fallen. But what a sweet gift while it bloomed.

I love it when reality lives up to expectations. Maybe these blessings in nature are so satisfying to me, because my mental image of what will happen is accurate. My expectation is realistic, because I’ve experienced this before. And in many cases, it’s good to be realistic.

But, what if it had been a bad year for lilacs, and they didn’t smell as fragrant?

Another example, includes the times we’ve been to our metropolitan area’s Civic Center productions, excellent ones. However, they’re always just a little too long for my taste – Riverdance, Cats, Kenny G., STOMP, to name a few. Great productions and performers. I would see them all again. But they’re about 10 to 15 minutes too long for me.

Does that mean I didn’t enjoy them? No. I loved them.

I can accept what I see as the imperfect length. (Though I’m sure I’m alone in that length critique.) The shows more than lived up to my anticipation.
What about life? I think God knows we need some routines we can count on.

"As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter,

day and night
will never cease."
Genesis 8:22 NIV

But that doesn’t mean it always looks the same. This winter didn’t, and what a storied winter we had. Now that I’m through it, I’m thankful for it. I lived through a record-breaking winter, God protected me despite my foolishness of driving 30 miles home in a blizzard, and we enjoyed many snowy days baking, stoking the fireplace, sledding and perhaps secretly (not anymore) enjoying the buzz of all the weather talk.

We don’t know exactly what will happen through our summer. But we can anticipate certain things. Heat. Rain. Lawn mowing. The orange of tiger lilies blooming, the many colors of peonies. Crops popping out of the Midwestern fields. Some days the news may spotlight areas in the U.S. where people are worrying about drought, and praying for rain.

For me, whether my anticipation involves weather or career, His use of me in the church, family plans or daily chores, errands or down time, I need to allow my anticipation to be bent toward God’s plans. He’s in control.

"Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God's wonders.

15 Do you know how God controls the clouds

and makes his lightning flash?

16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
Job 37:14-16 NIV

Job’s strength and faithfulness amaze and inspire me. I would not want to experience Job’s losses and trials firsthand. I have my own, and He still uses even trials long finished to shape me, and my choices. I actually get it right, trust, listen and obey sometimes.

It’s good that God doesn’t let us in on all the mysteries, the surprises we like and those we would pass up. I’ll be the first to confess that I often prefer my plans for my day, my family and my career to His. Or that I am simply too dense to see He is really the One redirecting me.

But I do love following my God. What an honor to be His, and that he would give me experiences to look forward to with a realistic view, and ones that perplex or amaze me.

Anticipation is a gift. The surprise of reality holds blessings and lessons, too.

Phlox photo at top courtesy USDA, and in public domain.

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