I almost missed it. We were hiking back (and up) to find the waterfall sweetly named "Fairy Falls." But I turned my head and looked through the trees and there it was. A rainbow. It touched water and sky... and my soul. I was entranced and stood there as I marveled at this play of light and water. I slowly pulled myself away so that I could continue moving on to the prize... of "Fairy Falls."
We were on an expedition. A photo expedition. We were hunting for the perfect shot. Well, at least Anthony was. Christopher and I were along for the ride.
We sent Anthony ahead to find what he was looking for... and we trudged the almost 2 mile trek to the "Fairy Falls." I almost turned back, but I encountered some friendly hikers and they told me it was just about 2 more minutes up the path. And since I had come that far... I decided my weary legs could withstand 2 more minutes... and so they did.
We turned the corner... and when I finally saw the prize... what I had traded in my peaceful quiet Sunday afternoon for... I had left my soul-touching rainbow for... I was disappointed. It was much smaller and darker then the photos had shown. And it didn't compare to everything I had already seen on the journey. It was quite underwhelming. Wishing and wanting it to be more... but I couldn't. It was already getting dark... and I was getting wet.
When we got home and Anthony downloaded his photos, he showed me the prize. It was the rainbow. I told him that it didn't even look natural. And had I not seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it.
I think of how many times I have sought out the prize. Something that I thought was going to bring me happiness or an end goal. My eyes fixed on the end goal. Not wanting to deal with the long and winding trail that is required. Wanting to be instantly transported from here... to there. Not wanting to deal with the weary.
I'm on that trek right now. Seeing an end goal. Not wanting to deal with the trudgery. But here is the truth of the matter... it was along the way that I saw the rainbow. The miracle. The true beauty. It was along the way to what I thought would be the prize that I saw God's promise.
And the next time Anthony invites me along for an expedition... I will say yes. And, again, I will encourage him to go on ahead, but this time I will anticipate the trudgery. Knowing that the end goal is the long and winding trail. Keeping my eyes open for God's promises all along the way.
What grows in that underestimated gap between God's calling and others' perceptions, between our true capabilities and our current realities? Most of us struggle if our dreams are delayed one year, let alone twenty! We find God's pauses perplexing. They seem to be a waste of our potential. When those pauses extend beyond what we can comprehend or explain (say, for instance, three days), we often spiral into self-doubt or second guessing.
But in anonymous seasons we must hold tightly to the truth that no doubt strengthened Jesus throughout his hidden years: Father God is neither care-less nor cause-less with how he spends our lives. When he calls a soul simultaneously to greatness and obscurity, the fruit--if we wait for it--can change the world.
~ Alicia Britt Chole, Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years... and yours