Jessica Carney

I always find that this time of year creeps by the slowest. The charm of white wintery days has completely worn off, and yet spring’s warmth still feels far off. I stare gloomily out of frosty windows, ignoring the sounds of my kids running amok indoors, all of us pining for sun, heat, and new growth on the bare trees.

My husband and I have three boys under age 6; cabin fever is a near-lethal condition in our small house. The change in seasons can’t come soon enough.

This impatience for a sudden transformation plagues me in prayer, too. Recognizing the stony coldness of my heart, I ask God to look with mercy — to remake me in his image — to break open, heal, purify, and inflame me, to increase my love, hope and trust — just please to make me holy, whatever that requires. And I believe that God hears my prayers and will answer them with his approval.

But oh, how I long for him to act faster! I want to be good today, Lord — why am I still so lukewarm? Why do I keep committing the same old sins? Can’t you change me overnight with a sudden insight, or a radical vision, or perhaps a Grinch-like moment where my heart grows three sizes one day?

We modern people like efficiency. We like measurable improvements and quick, visible results. And God has infinite wisdom and power, so he should be able to just snap his fingers and get us to the very best result, right? Speedy and efficient! That’s what I keep hoping for in my spiritual life, but that’s not often what I get.

God looks at things so differently than we do. Where we want fast results, he builds a universe that takes billions of years for life to unfold, and then he waits for thousands of years of human experience before sending the revelation of his Son, and now (how many?) thousands of more years before we get to the Second Coming.

Life is simply not a race for God. He is patient, and seems to like to let things develop and ripen. He is not an industrialist, trying to maximize the efficiency of his production. No, he is more like a supreme Gardener, planting tiny seeds, watering with care, and slowly letting his creation send up shoots and tendrils that turn into fragrant blooms or mighty redwoods. There is no rushing that kind of growth.

I remind myself that God’s will is always at work, and that he can use every small circumstance of our lives to invite us to closer union with him. He is the Creator of every drop of rain (and flake of snow) that falls on the earth. Perhaps he asks us to water the garden of our souls with that many prayers, too, to prepare it for lush maturation.

God is patient, but not apathetic or wasteful; he nurtures us with loving care. Even at the times when it feels like we are wasting time in a barren spiritual winter, if we trust in him we can be assured of healthy growth and a fruitful harvest. Spring will come in God’s good time. Marana tha!