Wheat heads ripening in the field across from Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Waiting on Cupcake

Everyone I know is having a baby. Not literally everyone I know, but some days it feels like it is. This time it’s my good friend and writing buddy who I met in Colorado. Her mom took to calling the baby “Cupcake” so lots of others have picked up on that too. Cupcake was due on January 8. Today is January 15. We finally got the text last night that they had gone to the hospital, but since there hasn’t been news this morning, I’m going to guess that we’re still waiting. I am exhausted for her just thinking about it.

What is it about waiting that tires you out so fast? Maybe that’s just me, but if I spend a whole day waiting on something to happen, I’m more nervous and twitchy and fidgety than if I went outside and chopped down trees. I hate waiting. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably picked up on that. I can’t stand it. I want to get up and go do stuff now. I don’t want to sit back and see what happens. I don’t want to sit around waiting for something exciting. I want to go do something exciting, or at least watch a movie about people who get to do exciting things.

But most of the time, waiting is necessary. It’s something everyone has to do, and if we don’t wait for what God’s doing, we’ll get ahead of Him. And getting ahead of God is never a place you want to be.

Wheat heads ripening in the field across from Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat heads ripening in the field across from Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are James 5:7-8.

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

I love the example of farmers waiting for their harvest to ripen. It’s so true. Farmers have to have so much patience, especially out where I live. When it comes to the wheat, they plant it just before winter really hits, so the wheat has time to sprout and take root before the snow comes down. Then, the little green bits hibernate (hopefully under the snow) for the winter until the freeze when they start growing again. And then, because it’s Kansas, it freezes again when it’s not supposed to, and everyone holds their breath to see if the wheat is going to survive until harvest.

Eventually the harvest comes. But it takes a long time from planting to reaping. You have to wait. Because if you don’t wait, you’ll harvest a crop that isn’t ripe, and all the time you’ve invested up until then will have been for nothing.

Like Cupcake. I’ve been waiting for months to meet Cupcake. So have her parents. So has everyone who’s known she was coming. But if she’d come earlier than this, that meeting would have been mixed with some concern. Waiting is an important part of being pregnant because the baby has to be ready to be born.

And if you’re being honest about it, life is the same way. There are no real get-rich-quick schemes. There are no free lunches, not really. If you want to be successful, you have to work at it. The Christian life is probably more like farming than real life. You plant seeds and you wait and you wait and you wait–and you probably wait out a freeze or two–and then as long as you’re faithful, the seed will sprout. And maybe eventually it will keep growing, and if you’re very fortunate, you’ll be the one who gets to harvest it. Usually it’s someone else who gets to harvest the seeds you’ve planted though.

But no matter who does the planting and who does the harvesting, following Christ is mostly made up of waiting. There are times when He wants you to take the initiative, yes, but mostly I’ve found that you just have to wait for His next instruction. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s not. But He always tells us what He wants us to do, though He doesn’t always go into how. And He always makes sure that we have everything we need for what He’s called us to do, whether we realize it or not.

A big part of waiting, I think, is preparing for what God is calling us to do. I get frustrated by having to sit around waiting for God’s timetable to match up with mine, but if I look back over my life, the waiting periods I’ve experienced have been training periods. The in-between times have been the moments when God brings things along in my life to teach me what I need to know to ultimately move forward with His plan for my life.

So, if I look at the waiting periods like that, maybe I won’t despise them so much. Sometimes you have to wait, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around doing nothing. You can keep your brain turned on, and as long as you’re focused on God, you can learn something even in the silence.

Nothing in life happens without a reason, even waiting.

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Wheat almost ready - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Who needs a paycheck?

I’ve been praying for my neighbors because we are hovering on the edge of one of the most amazing harvests I can ever remember. The wheat has never looked so beautiful. The photo for today comes from a week or so ago, and since then most of the fields around my home have turned almost completely golden. There’s no sight like it on earth.

Now if we can just hold on for a few more weeks with no major storms, no major floods, Kansas could have a very good year. And about time too. It’s been a while since we’ve had a good harvest in these parts.

I think farming and writing are very similar in some ways, especially when it comes to harvests. Because in both professions you can pour your heart and soul into what you do and never see a positive financial return. You can farm and farm until you’ve planted acres and acres of every crop, and (at least in Kansas) one bad storm can wipe it out. It has nothing to do with your dedication; it’s just life.

Writing’s the same in some cases. I realized the other day that I’ve been writing for almost 20 years, and I have yet to see an actual return on any of it. Granted, I only started letting some of that writing out into the public eye in the last five years. But still. If you run the numbers, you can get discouraged pretty quickly. And then you stumble into a verse like today’s?

Wheat almost ready - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat almost ready – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Luke 6:38.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

How does that work? I can honestly tell you that I’ve worked my fingers to the bone writing since I was a child. My dream since childhood was to be a published author. And I haven’t cut corners. At all. I’ve never expected a free ride, and I’ve dedicated every free moment to it. Even my vacations have been an opportunity to pursue writing.

So according to this rule, the rule of sowing and reaping, I should get back what I invest. And I should get back more of it. This is a law of nature that God created when He made the world. Newton figured it out too; for every action there is a reaction. Cause and effect.

So where does Jesus get off telling me this today?

Farmers plant fields and harvest crops, unless you live in Kansas. Then, generally, you plant crops and harvest dust. Much like writers write books and harvest disappointment when no one wants to buy their work. Am I wrong?

I’m only being partially facetious.

I would be right, yes, if Jesus were only talking about financial returns. I can’t really speak to farmers because I don’t farm (unless you count weeds), but when it comes to writing there is something more satisfying than being paid for your work. And that is when your work touches someone else.

No, I haven’t published a novel yet. But you’re reading this blog post, aren’t you?

No, I haven’t received a financial return on anything I’ve written, but I didn’t really start writing to get rich and famous. I started writing and telling stories because it was an outlet where I could share what God has done in my life. And so much more important to me is communicating that truth to other people, whether it’s in blog posts or articles or short stories or novels. And maybe I haven’t written anything that’s made money. And maybe I never will. But if you count up the people I’ve been able to share my story with through words, that vastly outweighs a paycheck of any kind.

I’ve invested 20 years of my life in writing, in learning how to tell stories, in sharing what God has taught me through words. And I can tell you, the returns I’ve seen, while not financial, are greater than what I originally invested. I’ve given my life to writing, and I’ve watched God take that and make it into something bigger than what I could have imagined, not only being a blessing to people but encouraging others to start sharing their story too. And that’s worth more to me than almost anything.

So whatever you’re doing in your life today, remember that the whole principle of sowing and reaping applies. It really does. It just may not pay off in the way you’re expecting. If what you’re doing in your life honors God, you will see a return. That’s a promise. So don’t give up.

Who needs a paycheck anyway, right? … Like I said. Partially facetious. =)