I used to be the little girl that would yell at my dad to keep his eyes on the road he was driving us somewhere.
Along with my mom - "Kevin, would you pay attention!"
Whenever a road trip was involved and my dad was in the drivers seat, you can bet your bottom dollar that we'd be crossing over the center line more than a handful of times in the hours to come- particularly if we were in an area that was full of farmers out working in the fields or farmers that had hay bales lined up differently than we did.
"Would ya quit gawking around." It's funny to me that I have heard that phrase so many times and yet now, I find myself doing that very thing whenever I'm driving myself somewhere. I didn't realize how bad I myself was until recently when all of the farmers began harvest.
My drive to work seemingly overnight became a time to check out how much they got done today, glancing over to see someone unloading into a semi or the other into a wagon.
Just me, gawking around for two hours a day almost every day of the week.
I love the fall, and I love harvest season. The other day I was running some beans through my hands as they came out of the wagon and it just hit me unlike ever before how amazing this season is and how awesome our God is.
I heard on a podcast a few months ago, I believe it was Steven Furtick that said it-- we all want the promise, but we don't want to go through the process in order to obtain the promise.
We want the harvest, but we must wait. We can't plant the seed one day and harvest it the next.
We have to plant the seed. The field has to be sprayed, the ground has to be rained on, we have to wait month after month until the time finally comes for the combines to come out of the shed and the farmer spends hours on hours harvesting the crop.
We praise Him once we get the promise, but do we continue to praise Him in the meantime-- through the planting and the patience?
Praising Him in the planting
Whether it be the loss of a job, a pay cut, the loss of a loved one, a rejection letter from the school you were hoping to go to, pain caused by someone you care about, an argument, the end of a friendship, a divorce, a betrayal, whatever it is that has you feeling like you are buried, think of it now.
What is something that has caused you to feel inadequate, unworthy, unloved, not good enough? What has caused you deep hurt?
We all go through tough seasons. We will call this our planting season. We metaphorically feel as if we are buried- like we're trapped in the dark and can't move, we're so deep in the dirt- and sometimes we'll question God-- why is this happening?
Those seasons are our least favorite and sometimes they last a lot longer than we would like. Sometimes we know they're coming, sometimes they happen out of nowhere. There have been a variety of instances this year alone that had me in this place. Restless nights with little sleep, waking up thinking of the very things I wanted to simultaneously understand and forget.
"Hey God, I know you're working everything together for my good, but could you maybe give me some insights as to why this is happening, maybe quicken up the pace?"
"Um yeah, Lord, I was looking through my journal and I've been praying about this for 3+ years now and why is it suddenly this year getting so much worse instead of better? Why is any of this happening the way it is?"
I'm guilty of questioning Him. I'm not proud of it, and I honestly know in my heart He is working everything together for good (and He hasn't been shy to make sure I see Romans 8:28 almost every where I look this year).. but in the planting season, it's hard to see the crop that will grow, that good will indeed sprout from it. You're just in the dirt and it could be a day or it could be months or years until you see the promise fulfilled.
It took me a little while, but when I finally decided to praise Him through it that I felt free from every thing big and small that had a hold on me, what I thought of myself, and what I thought of the situations. When I would wake up in the middle of the night, I would no longer let my mind wander where it wanted to, I let it wander to thanking God for bringing me through it, for His love, grace, hope, and the overwhelming peace He was showing me.
Praise Him through the storm.
It might sound silly, but next time you find yourself going through something that is "planting" you, rather than letting it upset you, sadden you, anger you, frustrate you.. just say Thank You. Turn on some worship music and be thankful for it.
Thank you for the pain, You made me strong.
Thank you for the job loss, it allowed me to discover my passion and do what I was created by God to do.
Thank you for the waiting period, where I learned to learn solely on You.
Thank you for the rejection letters, you kept me from the school/job/etc. that would have made me miserable.
Thank you for making me late to the concert because you kept me from the accident you knew was about to occur that would have harmed me and my family.
Insert whatever it is here and be thankful because yes it might hurt and frustrate you now and maybe even for awhile, but you are strong.
You will come through it, and God will not leave your side for one single moment.
Praising Him in the patience
So we're planted, and we know something beautiful and good is going to grow, but we have to be patient.
Maybe for a week, others a month, some for years. We live in a generation of instant gratification and if we have to wait more than 5 minutes for our Jimmy John's, we lose our minds.
Can we praise Him when we encounter seasons of extreme patience? Can we surrender all to Him and trust that He will come through with His perfect timing? His timing and our timing sometimes are quite different, so How do we keep an attitude of praise when all we want is the promise?
For me, it's been surrendering it all to Him. And that hasn't been a one and done kinda thing. It's been a day by day step I have to continually take. Sometimes multiple times per day.
"Okay God, I know you have the perfect job for me. I know I didn't get that job because you have something better."
That was a phrase I had to repeat to myself MANY times. And when I say many, that isn't even exaggerating. You'd laugh at the amount of rejection emails and calls I got.. but you know what? He is faithful and His timing is perfect and I could not be more thankful that I remained patient, and used that season of rejection and frustration to dig my roots deep in the promise that He had something good for me because it was hands down worth it.
Yes, while I was going through it it was frustrating, exhausting, I questioned myself and my abilities more than once, and there were times I'd break down.
BUT not settling, not taking a job I know I'd hate because I was frustrated, and trusting that there was something better coming with each No I received was challenging. But with time, each no led me to thank Him more and more-- for keeping me from something that wasn't suited for me, for preparing me to do what He created me to do, and for opening and closing the right doors for me.
Praise Him in the process. Praise Him for giving you patience. Praise Him for the good He is preparing for you. Praise Him for keeping you from what isn't best for you. His promises are so much better than what we can even imagine and what we dream up in our heads of how we want things to be.
I've seen His faithfulness, and that helps me muster up the strength when I get frustrated and feel defeated to continue to have patience for those things in life that I am being patient for. I know it's worth it, and because of that, I will praise Him while I wait.
For the farmers to reap the harvest, they must wait. As we want the promise, we must wait.
Praising Him in the promise
Whether it's exactly what you imagined or completely different than you thought but somehow better, you're thrilled beyond words. Thank you Lord. We look back and gain a new perspective as to how and why things happened. Other things we will never understand on this side of heaven.
Whether you're just being planted or you're standing smack dab in the middle of your promise, you're where you are at this moment for a reason. Yes, some of it is going to hurt more than anything you've ever experienced, you might experience loneliness, pain, and want to give up.
When you feel that way, as hard as it seems. Do not give up. Sometimes all we can muster is to put one foot in front of the other. Keep doing that. When thoughts creep in that cause you pain, you to question yourself, you to become upset, replace them with thoughts of praise. Sure it might sound completely unheard of to praise God for pain, but He will be there to listen and He will fill your heart with love and peace and hope.
It might not happen overnight, or even next month or next year, but He will never give up on you and He will work everything together for your good because He is a good, good Father and He wants the very best for each and every one of His children.
If you're in the middle of it right now, gawking around trying to figure it out in your own strength, just stay in your lane on your side of the road and focus on HIm. Find peace and rest in knowing He has it all figured out. Every moment of your life is already written, and it will come to pass.
As the seeds are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, you too will grow and continue to become the person God created you to be. He has great plans for you and will use you in the most beautiful ways as your seed grows day by day.