By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” - Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
Our family was excited to eat peaches from our own tree after we transplanted a sapling peach tree in our backyard. However, the tree didn’t bloom in the spring or produce peaches in the summer for about three years while it grew and matured. We were glad the tree was growing but disappointed when our hoped-for flowers and fruit didn’t show up, year after year. The peach tree’s gnarled trunk and branches were unsightly. The tree didn’t look like the beautiful tree we expected, but we continued to look forward to seeing peach blossoms and peaches in the future. Finally, blossoms appeared on the tree one spring, and peaches began growing on it. We were thrilled – until we saw what looked like an ugly fungus on the leaves and peaches. Our gardening center diagnosed the problem as a disease called leaf curl. It had turned our tree into a messy eyesore. Still, we held onto hope that one day we would see beautiful flowers and fruit on that tree. We purchased many bottles of fungicide and carefully sprayed the tree for months over the fall and winter, trying to save the tree and encourage it to bloom and produce fruit the next year. We also prayed often for God to help our peach tree. Then – finally! – ugliness turned into beauty. Delicate peach blossoms, rich green leaves, and large peaches appeared in abundance on our tree the next year. It had been a very long wait, but God had made the tree beautiful in its time.
In a world characterized by impatience and the relentless pursuit of immediate gratification, God calls us to embrace the beauty of his timing. Each season of life has its unique purpose – whether it’s a time of persistence and growth, a period of waiting, or a season of joy. Just as flowers and fruit need time to bloom, so do our own aspirations. God’s timing is perfect, even when it seems to us like God is taking too long to act. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV points out, God has made everything beautiful in its time. God, who has designed every part of creation – including us – with intricate precision, knows exactly the best time to bring something to fruition in our lives.
God has carefully planned a good future for us. He assures us Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV that we can step into that future when we seek him wholeheartedly: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” When our circumstances look bad, God still has something good in mind for us. It’s only by seeking him in loving relationships that we can see the beauty of God’s plans unfold in the right timing.
The second part of Ecclesiastes 3:11 mentions that God has set eternity in our hearts, even though we can’t understand the full scope of God’s work over time. Deep within us, we yearn for something more than what we can see right now. God has given us a divine imprint that reminds us of our eternal destiny. As we navigate life in this fallen world, let’s look beyond the ugliness and seek to live in holy ways that align with God’s beautiful purposes. Let’s place our trust in the One who sees the full picture of what can happen when we dare to hope and dare to pray with confidence that God will answer on time. As we release our desires to comprehend and control, we open ourselves to the beauty of closer relationships with God.
The beauty of God’s work unfolds within its appointed time. In our hearts, a longing for eternity resonates, inspiring us to trust the Eternal One who wants the best for us and all creation.
Dear God, we come before You with hearts full of gratitude for the beauty you have brought into our lives. Help us to embrace each season and moment, trusting that your timing is perfect. Open our eyes to the eternity you've placed in our hearts, reminding us of our ultimate purpose in relationships with you. In times of uncertainty, may we find peace in the assurance of your sovereign love. Guide us, Lord, as we seek to align our lives with your eternal purposes. Grant us the wisdom to release our need for complete understanding and to trust in your wisdom. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Vladimir Sukhachev
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.
Looking for authentic conversations about how to deal with body image, insecurity, and comparison issues as a Christian woman? The Compared to Who? Podcast is the show for you! Twice a week, we tackle tough topics like dieting, disordered eating, weight loss, aging, body dysmorphia, and more from a practical, grace-filled, gospel-centered perspective.