“It’s not what you think, Wai Jia. Literally, so many factors would have to be aligned for this to happen as imagined.”
As much I didn’t want to hear it, I knew he was being kind.
By mitigating my expectations, Cliff was alleviating the disappointment I would most likely face.
Yet, like a child, I hoped and prayed with a heart full of passionate naïveté.
More than two years ago in my third trimester, as we moved from a sweltering Singapore to wintry Canada, I had hoped and prayed for a maternity shoot in the snow. Having grown up in a tropical country all my life, I was unduly fascinated by this magical season.
But it didn’t happen. That winter, was the mildest in years.
Now, two years later in winter again, with a different baby in my womb, Cliff knew I was hoping the same hopes again.
This time, he didn’t have to remind me how unrealistic my expectations were- I could see them clearly now:
The snow would have to be as fresh as cream, before it turned quickly into muddy slush. If it snowed too lightly, the ground would not be fully blanketed, leaving ugly pimply pockets of grass and tarmac. If it snowed too heavily, traffic would be disrupted, schools would be closed, and the photographer and/or makeup artist would not be able to travel down and we’d have to reschedule. Too cold, and we wouldn’t be able to withstand it; too warm, and the snow would turn into slippery ice, forcing us indoors anyway.
The chances of all this happening for the prescheduled time of the shoot was nearly impossible, since the weather forecast was so volatile.
Then, after an epic effort to coordinate multiple appointments between Cliff, myself, and my in-laws to make it for our shoot, the photographer cancelled on us last minute.
Frustrated, I went silent.
“This means a lot to you, doesn’t it?” Cliff asked.
“I guess so, but it’s silly though,” I replied. “In the grand scheme of things, this is so insignificant, so stupid to be upset over.”
This time, instead of reminding me of the cosmic impossibility of having the snow shoot I had dreamt of, Cliff said instead, “Why don’t you trust God about this, Wai Jia. Just trust Him.”
I looked at him like he was crazy, thinking- surely, God has more important things to do than coordinate our maternity photoshoot.
In the end, the day our shoot got cancelled turned out to be one of the warmest winter days- all the creamy, fluffy snow that had accumulated beautifully over the week disappeared in a wink.
“See, the cancellation turned out for good. Just trust God,” Cliff encouraged me, “Just see what He’ll do.”
By this time, I held on to little hope. Seeing how just a touch of warmer weather could melt thick, dreamy blankets of pristine snow into piles of grey, muddy slush, I came to accept that my idea of a magical snow shoot was an unreasonable expectation, a silly dream by a little unrealistic girl who had grown up in a tropical island her entire life with a disproportionate fascination with snow.
Days later, with my heart still heavy, Cliff continued to encourage me, “Just trust God.”
The day before the re-scheduled shoot date, milky pearls rained down from heaven like a magical play. It snowed so heavily that schools were closed. Everything was bathed in white, glorious lustre.
I was nervous, preparing myself for another cancellation. Surely, something would go wrong.
The next morning, it was cold enough for the snow to remain, but not bad enough to disrupt traffic. Because it was windy, not many people had left their homes and the snow remained pristine. Because it was snowing only lightly by then, roads functioned. The makeup artist who had told me she couldn’t make it said she rescheduled her medical appointment because she wanted to be there for me. Miraculously, the photographer showed up.
We went out, and it was glorious.
For half an hour, the sun glistened through the trees in our backyard and all at once, I was overwhelmed.
Surrounded by speechless beauty, I felt God tell me that He answers prayers in His own time and way. It didn’t happen two years ago when I first prayed hard, or the week ago during the scheduled date, but it happened in His time, gloriously, beautifully and so perfectly.
Almost with dramatic candor, as soon as the last few pictures were taken, the photographer’s camera stopped working because of the cold, and a terrible snowstorm raged down. Had we started just minutes later, going out would not have been possible.
God’s timing was perfectly magical. And magically perfect.
I am learning, not to despise prayer or to look down on the little things we hope for, in the secret places. They may seem silly, insignificant even, but just as how a parent longs to see his/her child smile, our Heavenly Father, too, longs to fill our hearts with joy.
What may seem pithily insignificant or overly extravagant for us to ask for, could be the very way God wants to reveal His tenderness and exceeding fatherly love to us.
Now that winter has nearly ended, I marvel at that perfect winter day that never happened again.
So often we hold onto the false belief that our secret hopes are too small for consideration for a God who has to take care of the universe. Yet, we forget that He has infinite time, and infinite resources.
Surely and thankfully, not everything we ask for gets granted.
But I am learning, that when we release gumption and self-entitlement, the heavenlies unlock special slivers of spectacular moments that take our breath away, that show us a glimmer of how good He is, and how His ways are beyond our understanding.
We may not understand when, why or how those hopes may get granted, but we can be sure, that every heart cry is heard.
This coming Spring, may you experience a sliver of His spectacular love, one that might take your breath away.