Sometimes it’s hard for us to know what God’s will for us is. Sometimes we try to take on things before it’s time. Here are some of my favorite stories on waiting, being patient, and staying close to God, so we can know what He wants for us.
The following came to me in one of those emails that have been forwarded so many times, that the originator is anonymous, but it spoke to me and I thought you might enjoy it too. It was titled “God’s Rosebud”.
A new minister was walking with an older, more seasoned minister
In the garden one day. Feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do, he was asking the older preacher for some advice.
The older preacher walked up to a rosebush and handed the young preacher rosebud and told him to open it without tearing off any petals.
The young preacher looked in disbelief at the older preacher, trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the will of God for his life and ministry.
But because of his great respect for the older preacher, he proceeded to try to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact. It wasn’t long before he realized how impossible this was to do.
Noticing the younger preacher’s inability to unfold the rosebud without tearing it, the older preacher began to recite the following poem…
“It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of God’s design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.”
“The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
God opens this flower so easily,
But in my hands they die.”
“If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God’s design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?”
“So I’ll trust in God for leading
Each moment of my day.
I will look to God for guidance
In each step of the way.”
“The path that lies before me,
Only my Lord knows.
I’ll trust God to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose.”
Let go, and let God unfold your life.
To add a Bahá’í perspective: Sometimes we want something before it’s the right time, and it’s best to remember:
There is one season to harrow the ground, another season to scatter the seeds, still another season to irrigate the fields and still another to harvest the crop. We must attend to these various kinds of activities in their proper seasons in order to become successful. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Consultation, p. 7).
Which reminds me of another of my favorite stories:
One day a man found a cocoon, and brought it home to watch it turn into a butterfly. As the butterfly inside matured, it struggled to get out of its cocoon, but couldn’t quite get free of it. One day, the man became tired of waiting and decided to help the butterfly. He removed the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly was pleased, but it had a swollen body and small, wrinkled wings. As a result, the butterfly never succeeded in flying and spent its entire life crawling around.
What the man didn’t understand was that the struggle required for the butterfly to break out of its cocoon actually forced fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom. It is the struggle that causes the butterfly to develop its ability to fly.
And this one:
There was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and God appeared. God told the man He had a job for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. He explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
He started to have thoughts such as; “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it?”, thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. “Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.” And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to God.
“God” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”
To this God responded compassionately, “My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock.
But your calling was to be obedient, to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you have done.
I, my friend, I will now move the rock.”