Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sensing God in Winter, While Hoping for Spring

Although Colorado attempts to confuse us, Spring is coming.

The sun shines brighter, warming up the cool breezes.  The whistles and cheers of March Madness is a constant drone from the TV. (Yes, this is how my family defines Spring.) And brave buds show their face from the long winter under the soil.

With the hard lessons and uphill crawl of this winter, I find myself obsessively focusing on the garden of my under-contract house.

God often sees it fitting to prune us, even with intensity.  I see myself, a small plant before God, with my recently trimmed off branches lying on the floor at my feet.  He has cut back many a branch.  The extremities of comfort, which often can bud the caustic sin of independence.  He has snipped off the appendages of productivity and ministry so that no pride would continue to blossom.  I see them lying limp below me.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser…every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit."

He has pruned, and snipped, and cut back.  And it's not always fun. But, who likes to lose what has become their own?  (Their own pet vices, lies and comforts that pad us from feeling what is real and true.)

Yet, as He has done this work, He just keeps whispering "I love you. I love you, Rebekah. It'll be ok." As if He puts his Almighty hand over my (shaking) hand, while His other hand continues to work gracefully with the shears.  "Sit tight, Beloved, don't run off quite yet."

And He reminds me that He already sees me as good, and enough, and clean, because of what Jesus has done for me.

"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you."

And that gift propels me to abide all the more.  As he snips of my false identities and yet another branch of pride or idolatry, I hunker under the shadow of His wing all the more.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."

Of late I see that I am so horribly wonderfully cut back, that I am nothing more than a little stubby…stub. (I wasn't an English major people.) I don't have the leaves and fruits that helped make me feel enough or beautiful in the past. And here's why that's ok.

Because God says, "Rebekah, I'm doing a new thing.  Spring is coming. Be brave. My love is enough for Winter, my love does a new thing."

Therefore, I have hope. Hang on, that needs an exclamation mark. Let me rewrite that: Therefore, I have hope!

It's kinda small right now, but it's there.  My hallelujah is kinda a raspy whisper, but it's there.  My life is cut back to it's simplest form, but it's life.

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19

Letting God change, trim, even wound us always feels better than fighting Him.  Trying to resist his operational hand of mercy is exhausting. But just lying there, inviting more and more pruning brings something new.  He knows what needs to be removed, He is building something bigger than our weak beings can perceive.  He loves us enough to not leave us as we are.

He loves us enough to not always let us grow huge and lush, with huge leaves on the end of each branch.  A huge leaf of ministry, relationships, money, houses, reputations. Sometimes a season of steps backwards…a season of better. Because winter, friends, is not a waste.

Can we not trust His love enough to sit tight and let Him make us new?  Can we look away from our losses, turn our ears away from the lies that we need this or that?  Could we turn our gaze away from the regrets, losses, or hurts of the past year and look instead at the Gardener who wants to make us more beautiful? Stronger?  More fruitful?

And more joyful.

"These things I have spoken to you so that My Joy may be in you, that your joy may be made full." 

Branches may crack.  Hearts may turn cold and hard like a stone. We may lose everything that we thought made us who we are, change may steal our layers of comforts that kept us warm and confident.

But Winter will end.  Spring is coming. (!)

"What was frozen through, is newly repurposed, turning everything green." Nichole Nordeman

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