I have six months to reshape my life. I can do this.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Maddening Wait for the Late Rains

"Be patient then, brothers, for the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains." - James, ch. 5:7
"My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers." - Tom Stoppard
"Tomorrow will be too late. It's now or never, my love won't wait." - Elvis

I never pray for patience. Ever. I never ask anyone to pray for me to have patience. Ever. In fact, I dissuade people from praying for that very thing. Because in my spiritual naivete I assume patience is only something you can learn through trying situations. Not so fast, my impatient friend. You have it. It is there, tucked away behind the love and joy with the self-control and kindness that we tend to ignore.

James uses an analogy that spoke to his readers about farming and the essential sets of rains to produce a crop in the Mediterranean. You needed both the autumn, or early, rain and the spring, or late, rain. So, how long do we have to wait for the late rains to come?

James speaks of that certainty that it will rain. That late rain will come. It is certain. I just don't have any idea when it will come. And the waiting for it to happen is difficult. It is difficult spiritually. It can be difficult physically. It is terribly difficult psychologically. Too often we are forced by faith to wait on things we cannot control, those vagueries of life. The farmer knows the late rains will come. He just can not do anything to speed them along.

I have a better chance at manipulating the rain than I do at pushing God's will along for me and my life. My problem is that I am not very good at waiting. And the late rains are very, very late in coming. They are coming, to be sure. But my struggle is figuring out how to maintain enough faith to allow me joy and peace in the interim.

So, James comforts me. Ironic that the book full of rebuke (he uses the term of brothers to remind his readers that he, too, is a member of their faith community and loves them) brings me such comfort today. Because now I know that I have within me the reserves to wait in harmony.

Waiting used to produce discord. I would grumble and moan and complain against whoever or whatever was causing me to wait. But James goes further in verse 9 to encourage us to maintain that unity in the bond of peace.

God is faithful. The late rains will come for me. They will come for you. My house will sell. The job situation will work out. The family trouble will pass. The health issue will be resolved. The relational conflict will pass into reconciliation. The late rains will come.

The question is what state of mind, body, soul and spirit will they find you in when they come?