Forever Green and Growing

 

The table had been laid days before, with a bright vintage cloth depicting the freshness of Spring. Shades of blue, yellow and lively green floated over a crisp, white background. Dark Winter hues were put away, and Morning Glories and Buttercups were now our cheerful meal companions.

It was early March, but the weather had been uncommonly balmy for several days, and my heart was nearly digging its way out of my chest in excitement. Spring! Warm weather and walks! The sweet serenade of birdsong. The serenity of spending long, luxurious hikes in conversation and contemplation with the Lord. The tiny switch that rested somewhere in the far reaches of my brain had been flipped. Although the calendar still reflected Winter, my spirit leapt and struggled against that truth and its confinement.  Maybe I couldn’t keep the frost from returning, but nothing could stop me from welcoming the warmth of the new season with a pretty tablecloth.

It was common for me to feel antsy at Winter’s end. It was in the Spring that I fell in love with my Creator, and the transformation of gray to green was like re-reading a heartfelt letter from the Lover of my soul. It made me more than ready to shake off the heaviness of the cold, and I longed for the familiarity of His touch.

Oh, how He loves us!

Knowing my disdain for the deadness of Winter, that was the season He chose to present me with the precious love and companionship of my husband.

Jim is a warming ray of light that prisms, transforming ashen landscapes into the beauty of fulfilled promises. His presence and his adoration have taken off the sharp edges of coldness, indeed, so much so that he has become my favorite season.

This winter has been different. It has held heretofore unexperienced trials and challenges, but don’t they all? Nearly one year ago, I had a hysterectomy. Yes, that is a common surgery for a woman in this present time, but it presented me with a unique challenge and an opportunity for growth that I had not expected.

Since most of my teenage years and twenties were spent wallowing in a pool of depression, the enemy attempted to use the physical effects of the surgery to drag me back into that slime. I have learned that as women, we choose whether to allow our hormone-intensified feelings to rule us, or to surrender those feelings to the Lord. I received deliverance several years ago, from depression and the horrid reign of hormones so, naturally, the devil determined to try again in an area where he had succeeded in the past.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 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 43:18-19

He HAS made a new way! Because I know who He IS, and what He has already done, I cannot UN-KNOW that I am changed. I know, now, that I have authority over both the enemy and my own reaction to emotion. Glory to God, how can the enemy prevail over that? He simply cannot.

Even so, my flesh has kicked against His revealed wisdom on more than one occasion. Yes, this Winter has been different.

A few days ago, I was struggling. I yearned to escape into a blissful hike on a peaceful path, but neither weather nor time permitted. The length of unproductive Winter days, and fear of accepting complacency in place of purpose, drove me into a sour state of mind. I could hardly notice the vibrancy of that Springy tablecloth. I was needy of a reminder.

“I am not saved to sacrifice; I am saved to fulfil my destiny in Christ.” – Oswald Chambers

It was at that moment that light entered the kitchen where I stood. There I was, in my night clothes, trying to ignore the battle going on in the realm of the spirit, numbing myself with the repetition of preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner, cleaning up the made messes and beginning again. There I was, trying to shove down my flesh, drowning purpose in the fictitious notion that it wasn’t “time” yet for its fulfillment. There I was, beginning to see simple selfishness as sacrifice. There I was, choking on repressed emotion, when jim walked into the room. Without saying a word, he laid a book upon that tablecloth, and a hint of color might have returned to it. Without a word of explanation, he opened that 1492-page book and began reading.

He read passages like, “When I am rightly related to God, the more I love the more blessing does He pour out on other lives. The reward of love is the capacity to pour out more love all the time, “hoping for nothing again.” That is the essential nature of perfect love.” He read, “When I am met by exacting and meanness, I do not say, That hurts me; I do not know it does, because I am taken up with the pain of the Holy Ghost over the hurt to Jesus.” He read, “Deny forever your right to yourself,” and “Whenever I make self-sacrifice the aim and end of my life, I become a traitor to Jesus; instead of placing Him as my lodestar I place Him as an example, One who helps me to sacrifice myself. I am not saved to sacrifice; I am saved to fulfil my destiny in Christ. It is much easier to sacrifice myself, to efface myself, than to do God’s will in His way. Self-sacrifice is always eager to do things and then say, “That is God’s will.” There was no trace in our Lord’s life of self-sacrifice being the idea— “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.” These words give the key to the saint’s life; I have deliberately to give God myself, myself which He has sanctified, that He might use me as His hands and feet.”

As he read those passages from The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, My Relation to Myself, not only did the tablecloth regain its color, but the atmosphere was charged with radiant rainbow hues. God gave me the reminder I needed, and He gave it to me through His gift, my husband, my prism producing ray of light, and through a beautiful book to which he had introduced me when we met.

The Lord NEVER fails to meet us where we are. We place so much expectation on Him, and that is wonderful. We CAN expect Him to be faithful, but we dare not use our expectations to dictate His method of reaching us. It might be through birds one day, and trees the next. It might be through paths today and people tomorrow.

…And then, one day, we might notice that the paths and the people…They have a lot in common.

It is still Winter, but Springtime is forever within reach when we hold tight to what we know to be true. Truth is forever, and knowledge of it is forever a green and growing thing, ready to burst into bloom when we feed it our belief.

Be blessed, and keep believing!

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