I have been feeling extremely blessed as of late for a variety of reasons; but mostly because of my new job. I'm almost embarrassed to say that it's taken me this long in life to find something I really enjoy doing while getting paid for it, but as my father said, some people go throughout their entire lives working and never finding any satisfaction in doing it.
All of us have been created with a special and unique combination of skills and talents. For those who are creative (raising my hand and wildly waving), finding contentment in our work is no small task. My brother, who is a lawyer, seemed to know at the age of five that he wanted to be one. (How this happened is still a mystery to me since we had no lawyers in our family. I chalk it up to Perry Mason on TV.)
For me, I declared I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. There were few things I loved more than losing myself in drawing or painting. A second passion was reading, which spawned it's first-cousin - writing. Being a reflective type, I immediately began my first diary at age nine with such ambitious ideas as creating an icon guide of faces to describe the mood of the day and placing that key prominently just inside the front cover. I was always trying to define something, including my own emotional temperature for the day.
When I started to seriously pursue God (and He always pursues us first), I realized my skills and talents were gifts from Him. It seemed logical to ask Him to guide me and give me the opportunities to use what He had given to me. Thus began a lifelong quest to discover what He had in mind.
Whenever we pray to God about such things, of course we hope to see an answer immediately. We are impatient people and our impatience has been further compounded by what I call a "microwave culture." Everything has to be "instant" or we become bored and move on. Cultivating anything is seen as a bother as we try to find shortcuts to achieve what we want. However, those who are gardeners will know that growth and development do not happen overnight and living things must be nurtured consistently to see any fruit.
God is the ultimate Gardener, tending to us patiently, adding water when we need it, His "Son" always shining upon us, and the nourishment of good soil - which is His truth through the Scripture - feeds us. Cultivation is His language.
My husband captured my heart entirely during our first date. We were leaning against our respective cars at a park during a cool August night, drinking tepid coffee and talking about a wide variety of topics. We started to talk about relationships in general. "Relationships should be cultivated," He said. "They don't just happen overnight."
I remember thinking, "Cultivate! He used my word! He gets it!" I was so excited inside by kept myself in check because I really didn't want to fall so easily for this handsome, slender, brainy guy - but it was already too late. I had because he had already "cultivated" a relationship with me through weeks of writing to each other. Our love for words and expression naturally provided the perfect environment for intimacy to grow.
In the course of our spiritual growth, there are times when God says "no" to our requests, but only so He can provide a better "yes." He said "no" to His Son's request that the cup of suffering be withheld from His lips because there was a better "yes" coming. The better answer glorified the Father and the Son while bringing us eternal life. I'd say that's the best "yes" we have ever been given! God said "no" to preventing Lazarus from dying so He could give His Son the better "yes" by raising Lazarus from the dead.
God said "no" to me during the past few months as I searched for a suitable job. There were a few positions that I really hoped to get but didn't. I remember feeling discouraged but I pressed on, trusting He had a better "yes." He did and it is far better than I imagined. It was the same with my husband. I was single for many years, desiring with all my heart to be married. He said "no" to other possible matches because He had something better in mind. He had other things He wanted me to accomplish first before bringing me to my future husband, and so I trusted in Him, believing my desire would one day be fulfilled.
When I look at my husband as we share a cup of coffee in bed while snuggling under the covers, or cycling with him, or whatever we find to do together - I am reminded of how deeply blessed I have been that God said "no" for all those years so I could thoroughly enjoy His "yes" at the right time.
So in the midst of our attention spans becoming shorter and shorter, waiting upon God is more important than ever. He hears our prayers and is working for our good. And His "yes''" are very, very, very much worth all the "no's" you'll receive.