The Long Game

My mother-in-law and I took an early walk this morning.  Her life has been in emotional turmoil lately, and I knew she needed to talk it out.  We stepped outside into the sunny, low-humidity morning and started down the block.

Her life has been marked with rejection.  She is a survivor.  She got her B.A. last summer in Fine Arts.  She sews, paints, draws, does sculpture, cooks, you name it.  You dream it, she can build it.  She birthed and raised three wonderful boys with her husband.  She’s lived in several different states and in Kenya. And yet, she has lived with a hole in her heart for 70 years.

Very recently, God stepped in and answered some well-worn prayers.  She reconciled with someone who held her in contempt all her life.  She grew up under the shadow of rejection and only in the past couple of weeks walked into the light of acceptance.

She is overwhelmed.

We walked and talked and she poured out her heart.  Sometimes, listening is all we have to offer.

“I’ve lived in exile all my life.  I don’t know where to put all these good things,” she mused.

Indeed.

I think sometimes we pray earnestly and seek God for things.  We have a great desire in our hearts that drive sus. Then, after awhile, when the prayer seems to yield no results, we give up.  We let go.  We move on.  We get on with the business of living and forget about it, the sharp thorn stabbing us from time to time.  “God, where are you?” we lament in time of greatest pain. “Don’t you love me?  Why don’t you fix this?!”

The silence in heaven mocks us.  God didn’t come through.

Then, all of a sudden, in some secret greenhouse, the prayer reaches fruition.  We get pregnant after years of trying.  The job we’ve always wanted and hoped for becomes ours.  We find that long-lost friend.  We pluck – and taste – the fruit of God’s faithfulness.

God, you see, is in it for the long haul.  He is always holding us by the hand.  We run and run and He keeps up. We turn to the right and He is with us.  We jump into the rapids and He dives alongside us.  He never forsakes us.  God has a killer long game.  He aims purposefully, for eternity, and yet still allows people to make choices.

My mother-in-law and I eventually found the river and rested on a bench, watching the river flow.  The water sparkled.  As the sun crept slowly over the hills, a fresh breeze blew, refreshing us. To witness the healing of decades of bitterness and strife stokes my faith.  I can see the arc of her life, like the earth’s curve, and I realize He never relents. And I am so grateful.  If we hold and on and wait, He has good things for us.

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. – Hebrews 11:1

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