Written by: Cecilina Zhang (Photo by: Ronald Lim)
When God wants us to wait
“See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.”
-Song of Songs 2:11 (NIV)
As with most mornings in London, the cold breeze brushes across my sleepy face like a dreaded wake-up call. Brrrr, braving through winter is hard for this Singaporean. Wrapped up like a xiao long bao (meat dumpling) with layers and layers of clothing, I walk to work in the silence and calmness of dawn, admiring the trees and the British streets.
In the midst of the English winter, something feels different on this quiet morning.
With each stride, my mind runs, desperately trying to put a finger on this unfamiliar feeling. What has been the cause of this surprising emotion of warmth and hope? As my thoughts embrace the fragrance of a good morning brew, it hits me.
The sun is up today, and the light is poured out everywhere. I’m literally walking on sunshine, as I gingerly manoeuvre my way across the reflective puddles on the streets. I step into the warmth of the sun rays, and I feel it — spring is coming!
How amusing, the way the seasons change. Just a month ago, I would have walked in the chill and darkness, dreading an early day’s work whilst battling the frosty winds. You see, daybreak arrives late during winter and it has often made me feel like the world’s still asleep as I trudged in my boots to work. The season has been quietly changing; the weather breaking into spring. How is it that I’ve only noticed it today?
Then He speaks to me — a gentle, clear voice in the peace of the morning — and I feel a small but strong tugging in the cavity of my heart. “Yes, Lord?,” I reply. His whisper is tender and sweet, as I’ve come to know it.
He reminds me that it is the same way He works in my life sometimes, in my desperate cries to Him to hasten the coming of spring. In some moments, there comes an immediate dawn — a breakthrough, an answer, an open door — and the sun takes no time at all to rise, signalling the start of a new day.
There are also times where He is slowly but surely changing up the condition of my heart, shaking away the dust and gravel of the sin that so easily entangles me. He is patiently working and bringing about a spectacular breakthrough that won’t just change my situation, but will change me.
This recount spoke to me, like the sun that eases through the bleakness of winter. I was stuck in an inexplicable state of hopelessness and fatigue. I’m unable to pinpoint when this season of winter seemingly came about, but I knew that it started at a point where everything in my life seemed to be going downhill. Relationship struggles, mental stress, emotional turmoil, down to the feeling that I had become ineffective in ministry.
There have been many written accounts of winter in the Bible. Many of our heroes have gone through seasons of waiting on God. While King David was a man full of faith, he went through a season of pain and brokenness (Psalm 22) when he ran away from Saul and feared for his life. Joseph learnt to work with God and wait patiently for his dream to come to fruition; after being betrayed, tested, and forgotten in jail, he saw God’s faithfulness and reunited with his family.
While it is tough to recognise this through winter’s fog, the valley is where fruitfulness happens. It may feel like a restless waste of time or an unwarranted waste of potential, but God is doing something in you that will last beyond your current situation.
He was realigning His position in my life. I believed and served Him, but He wanted to be everything that I had ever needed or wanted, and not for me to place my confidence in relationships, personal success, or ministry.
Every sermon and bible study I experienced seemed catered for me, as if God was shouting in my face that He had a purpose and a plan. Breakthrough was coming. However, in my emotional distress and negative state of mind, I struggled. I knew all His promises and did my best to proclaim them, yet I could not conceive of how spring would ever arrive.
I began to realise that my experience and knowledge of God was terribly limited. There was so much more to the depth and intricacy of His purpose that He wanted to reveal to me — if only I would learn to wait and be still before Him.
God began to give me an unprecedented hunger for His Word. My heart cried out for Him and I found moments of comfort, encouragement, and life in the Bible. When I sang the lyrics during worship, “Lord I offer my life to you; everything I’ve been through, use it for your glory,” I meant it precisely because of the mess I was in. There was nothing I could do for God, yet that was exactly the kind of praise that pleased Him.
I am still waiting to see the beauty of spring come to pass, but I know that the faithful God we serve is surely doing a good work in me and will complete it. The fear and anxiety that sometimes grip my heart are still very real; it’s scary to take steps forward when the future is unknown. The devil will only speak words of condemnation and unbelief, in his attempt to take away the hope that God can and will make all things beautiful in His time.
But as Chris Quilala sings,
“The One who made the blind to see
is moving here in front of me
The One who made the deaf to hear
is silencing my every fear
I believe in You
You’re the God of miracles”
All we need to do is to stay on the Potter’s wheel, till He’s done with the moulding and reshaping of our heart for His glory and His purpose.
I’m learning to be still, Lord. Come and have Your way.