In my living room, next to my favorite bookcase, two envelopes hang on the wall. Nearby is a small stack of notecards. We put our prayers in the top envelope – the little leaf reminds us of hope for the future – and when God answers, we move them to the bottom envelope, our hope having bloomed into joy.
I set this up after reading that Anne Lamott has a box where she keeps her prayers – God’s inbox. I thought this was genius but that we needed an outbox, too, a way to keep track of all the times God has answered – because, if you’re like me, you know how it goes. We pray (and pray and pray) and when God answers, we are grateful. But then, as the storms of life move in and the wind begins to toss us around again, all those filled needs and reassurances fade into the chaos and uncertainty around us. We forget (at least, I forget) how God has shown up for us in the past. How over and over again, when it looks like all is lost, He has come through.
I wonder if Jesus’ friends forgot too, right around this time a couple thousand years ago. The whole world must have looked pretty black this weekend. A Friday that looked anything but good, followed by a Saturday in what must have been utter darkness and despair. For a moment – an agonizing few days – it appeared that the corrupt power systems of this world had won. Goodness and love had taken its last breath and was buried.
Just like our envelope prayers. When it has been a lifetime of leaves with what seems like only occasional flowers, too few and far between, and now the whole tree itself looks dead and dry, it can seem impossible that Sunday will ever come. That a dead tree could ever bloom again. That a Man could rise from the dead, resurrecting our hope and faith with Him. The waiting is the excruciating part, when we’re not sure He will come through this time, even if He has countless times before. But may we remember, even in the waiting, even in the not-sure and the not-yet, He is still good.
If you are waiting in the top envelope, hold on. Sunday and flowers are coming. You are not forgotten. You never, ever were, and you can never, ever be. The God of the universe, Maker of oceans and stars, is already whispering to your flowers to go on, unfold. Just wait till you see them. Just you wait.