Life After the Trial

Oh, beautiful cherry blossom tree. You do not hide your condition. The winter has taken its toll on your beauty. On your branches. On your shape. On your structure.

The broken branches strewn about the ground. The sharp, ruggedness of the fracture, left on your trunk. Your dead leaves scattered around your base.

But, yet, God’s work in you is not over after the harsh winter. No.

Fall came and went. Your leaves changed. Dried up. Fell to the ground. The wind played a game of havoc on you.

branch

And, then the cold of winter came and finished off what life was left on you.

branch and leaves

But, deep inside, underground in your roots and in the marrow of your branches, life remained.

God protected and nourished that life deep within you all through the brokenness of the winter.

And now, in all your glory, you blossom your purpose, your fruit, your God-given beauty. Life is emerging on each branch. In each bulge brimming with life. In each blossom, opening for all to see. In each branch, stretching out further than the season before. You show your healing. Your life.

blooming cherry tree

Through the trial of the winter, the tree remained. Through the harsh reality the tree faced, the Creator’s plan never changed.

Winter still holds on. The bitter cold of the night still remains. The frost still appears each morning. The temperature and shorter days still threaten the growth of the tree. Yet, the Creator’s plan remains.

The evidence of the plan is seen in the tree: new life, new growth, new beauty.

cherry blossoms

Are you looking for the evidence of the Creator’s plan in your life? Even in the trial, the evidence is there. Sometimes it’s deep within. Like the sturdy roots of the cherry blossom tree, holding it in place, securing it through another trial. Yes, the evidence is there, Dear One.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Waiting On Spring

In my home state of Washington, we have been waiting. We have endured more snow, rain, clouds, cold, gray, yuck than usual for our Pacific Northwest winter. We have been waiting for the change in season. Waiting for colors to reappear. Waiting to feel the sun warm our bodies. Waiting for more time in the fresh, warm outdoors. Waiting for freedom from our cozy couches covered with blankets.

All through this lengthy winter, the plants, shrubs, and trees have held life. My hydrangea plant held the dried brown leaves throughout most of the winter, until I finally pruned them off. But, even on the cold, damp days, when the old dead leaves barely hung on the branches, new life was surging deep within the plant.

Abundant life, just as Jesus promises to us.  John 10:10 says, The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

Abundance. Extremely plentiful. Oversufficient quantity or supply. Overflowing fullness.

A blogger I follow, Wilderness Joy, wrote the most beautiful words about abundance,

As we notice the way nature abounds with God’s goodness,
and overflows with the wealth of His provision,
we are reminded that He is working in us to bring about
the abundant fruits of His tender planting.

Recently I came across an old journal of mine from 6 years ago. I began reading it, eager for encouragement. The Lord has brought me so far in 6 years, surely I’d see evidence of growth.  As I began reading, my eagerness quickly faded. My eyes fell on words that could have been written yesterday, “Lord, fill my mouth with Your words. Help me to love my family the way you love.”

Oh, Lord, you have brought me through so much. My dependence on you, my faith in you, and my love for you is so much deeper than it was 6 years ago. How can my prayers be the same? For 6 years, my prayers regarding my words and my heart have been the same. 

Closing my eyes and focusing my heart on the Lord, I begin to think about the budding plants from my walk that morning. They hold abundant life from the Creator all during the biting storms of winter. There is no evidence of the abundance contained inside, but any scientist or gardener knows it is there.

During the 6 years that passed since I wrote in that old journal, many trials and triumphs have come.  Growth, pruning, and dying off have taken place. New ways have taken root, while old patterns have died off. Many stretches have gone by that look like winter. No evidence of any growth, change, or beauty. Downright discouragement and defeat have shown themselves.  But, the Creator was still and is still at work.

When I don’t see evidence of spring coming, it doesn’t mean it’s not coming. The growth is happening, where I cannot see it. Just because I cannot see or feel something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just like the changing of the seasons, one day the new life, the new growth, just springs forth. A bright flower or a fresh leaf will open up and the evidence of what was happening all during the winter is now visible to all.

Although many of my prayers are still the same as they were 6 years ago, I imagine and actually hope some of them will always remain the same. I pray I always have the desire to speak and love the way Jesus did.

Thumbing through the old journal a little more, I see it. “Lord, please help me to live like you are near. “

I can remember the desperation. The distance. The discouragement. My desire to be closer to the Lord was there. I was right to be praying for it. But, I wasn’t experiencing it. I continued in the dark of winter. Putting one step in front of the other. Never fully turning my back, but not experiencing the beauty of growth.

That’s what I was longing to see in the journal. I longed to see evidence of how far the Lord has brought me. Yes, I am aware of the distance left to travel, but so incredibly grateful for the growth and beauty the Lord has created through the trials. The fruit is now there. The close relationship I desired is now there. The dependence I longed for. The trust I needed. It’s springing forth and giving beauty to my soul.

Dear one, is it dark where you are? Hopeless? Are you growing impatient as you wait for renewal? 

As you look for signs for change, dear one, do not lose heart. 

Take hold of these promises from God:

  • And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9
  • And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
  • Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12 

The Lord is with you. The abundance you seek is within you. It may not be visible, but spring is coming, dear one. Just hold on to the One who will never fail you. 

Father, thank you for your promises. Thank you for the budding growth you promise in your time. Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. Thank you for lovingly carrying us through the winter. Amen.