Just under two weeks ago I burned my arm when taking a dish out of the oven. I misjudged the distance and caught my wrist on the oven shelf which was understandably hot. A thin line of a burn formed, the visible evidence of my lapse.
Initially it hurt and went red, a sign that my body’s immune system was working as it should. After that, it no longer hurt, though the red weal was enough to draw comment from others.
This morning I woke to intense itching from the burn and found the protective layer of skin peeling off. This is the next stage in the healing process. Gradually the burn will fully heal; I may be left with a scar, but often, the miracle of healing leaves us with no visible reminder of our folly.
This itching stage is irritating if not painful. It can be hard to resist the urge to scratch; it can be hard not to peel the top layer of skin off. Rather like the child who wants to pull the wobbly tooth out before it is ready, I’m impatient to move on to the next stage, to ‘hurry’ healing along.
Often we are impatient for the next stage, for the next thing that God will do. We see the signs of spring – lighter mornings and evenings, snowdrops bursting forth in fragile glory – and we long for spring itself – but we still have more than a month to go! We see signs of God working in people’s lives – perhaps a question or a conversation – and want to hurry them into the kingdom of God, aware of the urgency of our need of salvation.
But there is a time for everything, God says, and no amount of impatience will change that. Change, healing, salvation – they all take longer than we wish. I know if I scratch my burn and peel skin off before it’s ready, I will actually delay the healing process. I know that waiting is not a waste of time, however frustrating it feels. One morning soon I will wake up and see healed skin, knitted together by God. How I need to transfer this faith to the spiritual world and wait for God to do what only HE can. He doesn’t need my interference (however well-meaning that is.) He will work for good at the right time.