by Ashley Vinti

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
Isaiah 58:11

“The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied”
Proverbs 19: 23

For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Psalm 107:9

There are few simplicities I appreciate more than the anticipation of the changing seasons. In summer, I look forward to walking in the early, somewhat eerie, evening autumn air. In autumn, I look forward to winter snuggles in oversized off-the-shoulder sweatshirts while watching The Grinch. In winter, I long for fifty degree spring jogs without the restraint of Under Armour. In spring, the scent of summer lingers just closely enough to re- energize me throughout the longest, and often most difficult, stretch of the school year.

As a teacher, the anticipation of the changing seasons sometimes seems perfectly timed. I return to work just as “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” and I am finished just as the heat of humid New York City begins to feel oppressive (Fitzgerald). But as each season comes, the same longing for the highs of the next robs me of my appreciation of the current.

I find my seasonal anticipation oddly similar to the anticipation I experience when waiting for the next stage of my life to come. In high school, I longed for the freedom from a schedule so set. In college, I hoped to establish a significant professional and personal presence in the world. In my career, I still battle this restless ever present urge that if I just get what’s next, I will feel better. Whether what’s next manifests itself as a Godly companion, the perfect home purchase, enrolling in a doctoral program, or a new higher paying position, it is always there.

An area in which I grapple with this “if only” mindset often is my unpredicted singleness. I am usually able to express genuine contentment in this season, but there are fleeting moments when I create a vision of my life with a future partner and assume it to be more satisfying than my current circumstance: 30 years old, divorced, living at home playing countless nights of rummy with my grandmothers. But then I hear the “if onlys” of the Godly wives and mothers in positions that I think will satiate the subtle calls of my heart, and I am reminded that these ”if onlys” are ever present. I am reminded that the only satisfaction that is everlasting is the intimate and unconditional love of God. Just as the desire for the highlights of the next season creates discontent with the current one, too strong a desire for the next stage of life depletes our capacity to appreciate the present. It clouds our clarity in meeting and experiencing the fullness of God’s glory every second of our current circumstance. Obsessing over the idea that I should be out of the house prevents me from seeing and appreciating the privilege I have to save money and spend time I will never get back with people I love; it prevents me from savoring the immediate opportunities to be a light that God graces me with each moment. Too long a contemplation on “if only” chips away at my spirit of gratitude; it muddles my perception of Godś sovereignty. Directing our eyes to who the Father says He is in His word is a lifeline in a world where we can easily be overtaken by weariness. Find strength in Him. Find rest in Him.

Instead of trying to understanding God through how our circumstances match our expectations, let’s seek to meet Him in the accessible, unconditional, and immovable treasure of His word. Let’s savor His promises that stand in the storm and in the stillness. Let’s find power in the peace of Christ as He went to the cross- in His assurance and commitment to the authority and perfect protection of the father even in the face of death. We are more than conquerors in Him, and He is always with us. Let’s walk in the power of His protection, promises, and favor. Let’s appreciate the immediacy of today by growing in our intimacy with a creator who promises to fulfill and edify the innermost longings of our hearts.

Thank you for your word. Thank you for loving us, leading us, and fulfilling us even though we sometimes seek fulfillment elsewhere. Forgive our wandering hearts and align them to pursue the everlasting and edifying intimacy that only you provide. In the storm, let your word anchor us. In the stillness, let your word ignite our hope in your goodness. Help us to act on the immediacy of the present with an urgent yet graceful desire to shine the light of Christ.