A tall, solitary palm tree grows on the lawn of the house next to mine. On stormy days the enormous lime colored leaves sway and bend, almost as if they are dancing. And once in a while a leaf will flex too far and snap. One morning I caught my neighbor cleaning up a fallen casualty and we chatted about the history of the tree. When he moved into the house years prior, the palm was only as tall as him, but now it practically surpassed his roof.
As we stared up at the soaring spectacle, climbing into the California skies, I asked him how tall it might become. He looked at me and said “It’s anyone’s guess as to how big this thing will get.” And in that moment the Holy Spirit had my attention. A voice in my heart said “Exactly. That’s just like my work in your life Ruthie. Just imagine how big this thing could get.” I walked away and I knew exactly what God was saying.
To be honest I think we all need a lesson in what genuine waiting looks like. There are seasons where we simply stand and look for Jesus to act on our behalf. We tarry with expectation, pause in prayer and actively engage in looking to Him. Those are genuine and much needed seasons. But beware. Fear masquerades as patience.
Competition and comparison are the fruit of scarcity, ensnaring us in a lifetime of disappointment. All we see are ticking clocks, missed opportunities and our destiny slipping through our fingers.
But recently I’ve been discovering that empty tombs lead us to fertile gardens. And like Mary, it’s here we meet the savior who speaks our name. Perhaps in a small and fragile way, our places of absence and loneliness can be an invitation to know Him more intimately than ever before. Our vulnerable hearts are exactly the place where Christ calls us to draw near and where all our empty places are redeemed.
The problem with feeling lost is fearing that I’ll never be found. I fear that I’ll be disoriented and unsettled forever. After all, none of us mind being lost for a moment, but as times passes and you realize you really have no sense of which way to turn, well that’s when the real fear begins to grip you. That’s me right now. Did I take a wrong turn? Have I missed God? Why am I feeling directionless in certain areas? There’s a sense that somehow I may be the one to blame and that my own choices have sent me on rabbit trail that I may never recover from. Hopelessness is nipping at my heels. But just then, as I sat on the beach surrounded by ashen clouds, the sun broke through in the most forceful fashion. It felt as if the entire stream of daylight was directed only at me, illuminating every speck of sand and curl of each wave. I tore off my coat and scarf and basked in this unforeseen shift.