Bird or Leaf

Pine Tree

“It’s a game you’d like,” my friends insisted.

As they waited for their daughter to finish her activities, they would ponder whether the sudden flutter on a distance branch was a bird or a leaf.

“It’s harder than you might think,” they said.

“So how do you decide which it is?” I asked.

“Well, once you’ve sat there for more than an hour it’s probably flown away if it’s a bird. And if not, it’s a leaf.”

I was reminded of this conversation the other night when I unwittingly began to play this game. When the breeze ruffled the branches of a nearby pine just right, I glimpsed a flash of red. Was that a cardinal? (Those who are long-time readers of my blog may know that I have a thing about spotting cardinals.)

I waited for another glimpse, but when it came, I was less certain. Was it just dead needles? No, it looked too red! Or – when the wind blew again – maybe the sunlight was hitting some brown needles just right to make it appear red.

Several minutes passed while I pondered this tree. Then, not willing to wait the full hour of the official bird or leaf game, I wandered over to take a closer look. And the thought that came to me, the thought that felt as though God whispered it directly into my heart was this:

I can outwait you.

Pine Branches

I don’t think He was talking about just the bird or leaf game. I think He was reminding me that no matter what I do, no matter how badly I go astray, no matter how long I run, He can outwait me. The causes that seem hopeless, the pain that does not seem to let up, the struggle that seems to never progress – God can outwait it all. It may seem as though it is never going to get better, but God is still waiting. He can outwait the pain, He can outwait the struggle, He can outwait our stubbornness.

When we have given up, when the devil has given up, when the pain of this world has given up – God is still waiting.

There is hope in His waiting.

The vision is for an appointed time… the Bible tells us. Though it tarry, wait patiently for it. It shall surely come and will not be late (Habbakuk 2:3). He who endure to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

Once closer to the tree, I could see more clearly. When the wind blew just right, the needles parted to let me glimpse not a cardinal, but a message. About waiting. And about having faith in the One who outwaits us all.

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