I’ve been savoring, this week, the grace in the word “unfold.”
An elderly friend needs more care, and I see, finally, long-awaited details begin to unfold.
A group of us works to arrange a meeting but our schedules don’t match. We settle on a date weeks later than we’d hoped—and feel the goodness in not forcing something but trusting God to meet us in the meantime.
I wrestle with a decision, the tension pulling me in two directions, the way unclear—and come back to this word that invites me to wait, to rest, to allow space for God to work and see how things unfold.
It’s a slow word, a gentle word. A word counter to our culture that pushes and hurries and drives us forward, grasping for success, striving for productivity. Microwaves may be manufactured and cars produced, but fruit and jazz, babies growing in the womb and souls growing in grace—life’s truest treasures—can only unfold, responding to the grace that summons and creates.
The word is used only once in the NASB translation, speaking of the “unfolding” of God’s words which give light (Ps. 119:130). But the concept stretches throughout Scripture, an invitation given in multiple phrases and images. A reminder that waiting and watching are not wasted time but acts of trust in the One who is causing his plan to unfold:
“Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46).
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Ex 14:14).
“Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning” (Ps 130:5).
“If you remain in me and I remain in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4).
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Is 64:4).
As we abide, wait, watch, God acts, orchestrating fruit and deliverance and hope in a way that we couldn’t have dreamed.
We are, of course, also often called to participate with God in his action. But beneath the call to act is always first this call to abide (John 15:5); to observe, as Jesus did, what his Father is doing, and then step into it (John 5:19); to wait in hope for the LORD—and then watch what unfolds.
Allowing life, and God’s work in our souls, to unfold requires stillness and space, and, I increasingly believe, laughter and music and play. So, as I do each August, I’ll be stepping away from this blog for a month to rest and play and be still, to enjoy friends and family and bare feet in sun-warmed grass. I’ll see you back here in September. In the meantime, may we each have eyes to see God’s grace unfolding within and around us.