In the Hand of God
In the Hand of God
Remember that little shell that we found on the beach in December? I remember looking closely at that tiny perfectly formed shell all alone on that dark beach and thinking how amazing it was that it was still in one piece.
I think I was mesmerized by that shell because it reminded me of myself. The journey has been a long one. Much of this journey I have felt like that little shell. It seems like one minute I am floating and see sunlight only to be overtaken by yet another tumultuous wave and pushed down into the darkness. There have been times when I thought the seaweed would succeed in choking the life out of me. At times I thought it would just be easier to give in to the waves and just let them win.
But I find myself lying on the shore much like that little shell. The waves continue to wash over me but without the force that they had when I was out in the depths. They don't have the ability to toss me to and fro as they once did because for now I am nestled in the sand. Although I feel the strength of their current, the sand will not allow me to be carried out for I am being held.
Although the confusion of being swept about among the waves has ended, I still find myself alone in the darkness. The darkness of the beach is welcomed after the uncertainty of the waves, but I find myself wishing for light.
And then I see You looking down at me. Only a dim ray of light shines on me through the darkness just like that night on the beach when we found that tiny shell with the flashlight on a cell phone. It amazes me that we found it there on the dark beach with such a small light. Almost as much as it amazes me to see You peering at me through the darkness just to let me know that You see me.
God, I lay here in the darkness wondering when the light of Your plan will come. Right now I lay here trying to take it all in and process what You must want from me. You have revealed so much to me this week that I feel overwhelmed. This world I live in is such a terrible and cruel place. Evil seems to prevail in a world where You remain in control. It's so hard for a human brain to comprehend- especially the brain of a Jesus girl.
And yet you call me to walk into the depths of the darkness willingly. You ask me to go counter to this culture in which I live and take a stand. You ask me to get up off this beach and be willing to run headlong into the ocean into depths above my head knowing all the time that I can't swim, but knowing that I need only to trust you fully.
God, this is bigger than me, but it isn't bigger than you. You're sending me into what the world says is impossible territory, and yet I know that impossible doesn't exist with You. God, part of me is afraid. Sometimes amid those waves being tossed violently in the darkness, I can barely breathe. Sometimes it gets so dark there, I can barely see Your light or hear Your voice. That is what scares me the most.
And so I stand here on the shore, listening to the crashing of the waves amid the darkness countered only by the light of a few stars. You call to me to enter the depths - to trust that You will prevent me from drowning. At first I am overcome by the memories of the waves, the darkness of the depths, and the pressure of the water against my chest. And then I look at that tiny shell. No one but You and that shell know where it came from. We will never know the distances that it had to travel or the depths of the waves that tossed it to and fro on its journey. No one can know the currents it withstood or the dangers to its being that it encountered. But I can tell one thing about this tiny shell as I hold it in the palm of my hand...it is unharmed.
That little shell may have been pressed upon by a weight it shouldn't have been able to withstand. It may have been thrust into the darkest depths of the ocean. It may have traveled for days in sheer darkness, yet I hold in my hand what appears to be a perfect shell because it was protected by Someone larger than it. The God who created the universe is not threatened by height or depth. The winds and the waves obey Him. He can protect the tiniest of shells until He brings it to rest on shore.
It's funny how this tiny shell makes me want to run into the water. I am amazed by its beauty even though it is tiny. God, teach me not to fear the waves. Show me that there is nowhere that I can go that You won't be beside me. Teach me to crave the deepest places and how to swim against the current. Show me the beauty of a life fully trusting in You.
I turned on the porch light to see a world covered in snow. Huge flakes of snow were falling from the sky continuing to blanket the world in white. I couldn't draw myself away from the window. The beauty of the snow falling and covering every tree branch and bush.
Earlier in the day these same trees had looked dead. Their barren branches looking scraggly and sad. The bushes had stood as though hoping for the arrival of spring when they would once again be adorned with leaves and blooms. The ground had been muddy from the melting of the last snow, and the grass looked brown and close to death. But now under this blanket of snow, the world was absolutely beautiful. The trees now looked beautiful with their snow-laden branches. The bushes now stood in gowns of purest white. The ground covered in a blanket of white snow appeared to be completely untouched by any human or creature. Just a perfectly smooth white blanket coating the earth.
While looking at the snow, it occurred to me that is exactly what happens with us when we are saved. God gave us His only Son to die for us. The blood He shed on the cross covers us in a blanket of white. In Isaiah 1:18 NKJV, it says, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Isn't it amazing that God now looks at us and doesn't see the ugly sin stained version of us? He just sees His Son covering our lives in a blanket of purest white.
I walked away from the window with the beauty of the snowfall on my mind. How blessed we are that God made a way for us to come to Him. How wonderful is that when He looks at me He doesn't see my mistakes and weaknesses, He sees Christ in me. The snow continues to quietly fall and blanket my world, I whisper a prayer of thanks for not only the beauty outside my window, but for the beauty He makes in my life.
The Apple Tree
Sometimes it's too hard to turn the pages. Who knew having Him lead you to a spot in the Bible could hurt more than the pain that led you to Him? But that's what it's like now...this dark season. Sometimes it feels like He's causing as much pain as your world is.. and that's tough because if He's against you too then who do you have?
But He isn't against you...not at all. He's just pruning you so that you can bear better fruit. Anyone who knows anything about apples know that the best fruit...the biggest and best of all apples...comes from the ugliest of trees. It is the tree that in the winter appears to have been left to grow in whatever direction it will. It isn't well shaped like a Bartlett Pear or mighty oak. It looks dwarfed and has limbs that appear to have been chopped at various lengths. No one would think to adorn it with a brightly colored string of lights or use it's scrawled branches to hold a tire swing.
But that tree that appears to be left to itself has had hours of attention. Her branches appear as they do as a result of endless pruning. She has been pruned as she grew in order to improve her fruit. For one fall in the future, someone will eat a huge shiny beautiful apple and comment on the quality only to be surprised at where the fruit came from. For the best of fruit can only come from a pruned tree.
And so I have learned that this process of pruning is necessary. The pain is shaping me into His purpose. Part of me wants to bear Him fruit, yet part of me just really wanted to be left alone to bear tiny fruit...I mean, it's still fruit.
I don't remember volunteering for this. I don't remember signing up for the hard stuff. I was content with just growing in my own way, but every time I start to grow in a comfortable direction, I feel the cutting shears again, pruning and shaping me in the way He wants me to grow. He isn't content to let me go for a season without any pruning. There is fruit that needs to be shared and He has called me to be an apple tree...not a mighty oak or a tall sturdy pine, but an apple tree.
And so I turn the pages...wiping the tears that find their way to my eyes. I don't want to read the words on the page before me because I know the two edged sword is preparing to prune me...to open up my branches to be vulnerable to the elements around me. And yet I turn the pages because I have learned something else. He has taught me to want good fruit. I am learning to give up the dream of looking like a Christmas tree or holding the swing of a child in my branches. He has called me to bear fruit from scarred branches. And why should I shudder at the sight of the scars I may bear for Him...He bore much harder scars for me.