It was a beautiful evening. I had just exercised on our outdoor trampoline and was stretched across the large mat staring through the green canvas of black walnut tree leaves into the blue sky beyond. Since surgery, my husband had occupied the living room thereby disrupting my corner space where I spend time with the LORD. The trampoline had become my new space for quiet and meditation. And I had A LOT to think about.
The Monday following Father’s Day was when I noticed my first spot of poison ivy. By that Wednesday I was wrapping both of my wrists. From there it appeared under my breast, my lower back, both thighs, and had nearly swollen one of my eyes shut. I also had stray blisters on my face, neck, and upper arms. It was a nightmare.
I remember waking one morning and wailing, “How long, LORD?”
He said, “Seven days.”
At first I was put out. Hadn’t I suffered long enough? As the days began to tick off, and I realized I’d be healed in time to enjoy a much anticipated visit from Floridian friends, my spirits buoyed. But then I woke on a Tuesday, the 7th day, still carrying the marks of the ivy. That day on the trampoline had been nearly a week past my day of prophesied healing and my body still bore the marks.
I gazed at my dry, scaly wrists and glanced at the discoloration and the bright pink circles that stood out on my thighs. I heard the girls’ sad voices in my head timidly asking, “Will the scars go away?”
I again stared through the leafy green canvas to the blue beyond and whispered, “I don’t understand, LORD. I know I heard You. I expected this to all be gone. What’s up?”
He was quick to remind me that, as Mum pointed out, I had no new outbreaks and there were no blisters remaining.
“The war in your body is over, Christi, but healing takes time.”
Flashes of pictures of war-torn countries, complete with bombed out buildings, filled my mind. “Rebuilding takes time even after a war is declared over,” He said.
Time. A peaceful quiet settled over me. It wasn’t the answer I wanted, but I like answers no matter how distasteful they are at times. One of my favorite t-shirts is white with a beautiful print on the front of a Thomas Kinkaid painting and this equally beautiful scripture verse: “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…” Ecclesiastes 3:11a KJV
In His time….
I made mention in one of my prior posts that I wholly relate to dear Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride who impatiently stated, “I hate waiting.” I’m beginning to think that my trials aren’t necessarily trials of faith, but trials of patience. And God leaned forward from His throne shouting, “Hel-lo! My girl’s finally got it!” And all of the angel choir shouted, “AMEN!”
Seriously though, faith and patience are related, aren’t they?
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:2-5 NKJV
Romans 5:3-4 NKJV is like unto it: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Only thing is, sometimes in the midst of fiery trials, I find myself being a character instead of having character. There is a vast difference; just ask those around me when I am in tribulation 🙂 .
I don’t pray for patience. I learned a long time ago not to. I kind of figured that just by virtue of my being a believer in Jesus I’d have ample opportunity to grow in it. Unfortunately, I was right. Opportunities to mature in patience happen organically, frequently, and sometimes in triplicate.
I have, however, prayed for unwavering faith. I might as well have been praying for patience all along according to these scripture verses! That was abundantly confirmed to me when I read a page from Mrs. Charles E. Cowman’s compilation in my all-time favorite devotional, Streams in the Desert. The reading basically boils down to this: Just as the strongest trees do not grow in sheltered places but in the open, where the elements beat upon them, so it is the way with spiritual giants. They do not grow alone in joy, healing, and victories, but in sorrow, hardships, and persecutions. Life is a bittersweet mix of both and I am only now coming to realize the painful necessity for them.
Have you, like me, found yourself going ’round the same mountain? Would you take into consideration that your trial may not be as it appears? It may look physical, financial, relational, etc., but at the bottom of it may be a lesson in patience. Just refer back to our scripture verses to see the value God has placed on this virtue. It’s wonderful…and also comes at a dear price. What is encouraging to me is verse 5 in James 1. If you need wisdom, ask. God will not let you do this on your own. He may have an instruction or comforting word for you. Mine concerning the poison ivy was comfort: I did hear right. The war in my body is over. I simply need time to heal.
I truly believe that as I let patience have her perfect work, I will see answers coming quicker and in succession. But for now, these lessons are my school. Join me today and see if the trial you face is one of patience. If so, go in faith believing that all will be made right…it may just take some time.
Hope you enjoy this “Darling” of a song featured on The Andy Griffith Show.