Have you ever been tempted to give up only to have something inside of you say, “Don’t.” “Keep at it.” “Be patient, it will all work out.” That is what I have been facing lately.
For three years now I have been praying for guidance, clarity, and help as I have taken a new direction in my life and try to develop my work as a faith-based writer. Sometimes, I wonder if I am doing any good. Frustrated, I look toward Heaven, asking “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life? Hello, is anyone listening up there!?”
When All Else Fails…
My little quandary reminds me of the parable of the barren fig tree. After not bearing fruit for three years, the owner of the fig tree told his gardener to cut it down. The gardener replied: “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future” [Luke 13:8-9].
Who knows why the fig tree was not bearing fruit. Maybe the tree was not mature enough. Perhaps the owner was not taking care of it properly—you know the old saying: when all else fails, follow the directions. I must confess I sometimes lack maturity. I also do not always have the patience to follow directions.
For example, the morning glories I started from seed did not bloom for most of the summer. As I thought about yanking the long, green-leafed vines out of my garden, something inside myself prompted me to be patient. I am so glad because they recently began to blossom with new flowers opening each morning! Of course, had I followed directions from the beginning, I would have learned that morning glories can take up to four months to bloom.
What Does It All Mean?
So what do stories about a fig tree and morning glories have to do with my state of mind? Perhaps, they are God’s gentle way of teaching me about the need for patience. Patience is one of the precious fruits of the Holy Spirit which protects us from succumbing to defeatism.
Patience gives us the time to learn from our experiences, helping us to fix our mistakes so we can grow, instead of cutting ourselves down, as we face life’s challenges. With patience, we have hope. Thankfully, God is patient with us, giving us the opportunity to bear the fruit He wants us to share with one another. However, such fruit comes only when we are mature enough to bear it, following our Lord’s direction by way of the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
With patience, comes maturity and the appreciation of humility. Without humility, our prayers run the risk of being less than respectful to our Heavenly Father, especially when life does not go as we plan. We also risk closing ourselves off from the directions our Lord may be trying to give us. Humility, patience, and maturity give our prayers the proper foundation for our relationship with God to blossom and flourish with full faith and trust that our Lord is listening.