I would never have imagined what three days of hard work in the yard could produce. Oh, yes there were sore muscles, stiff knees, an achy back and blistered fingers, but it was worth it all when I looked outside and saw the cleared path and cleaned beds. I force myself to look away from all the work that still remains and try to enjoy the present profit. If I squint my eyes I can visualize what possibly could be.
If you looked on, you might wonder what work had been done, because there is so much lacking. It’s kind of like looking on a life and wondering how change will ever be possible. We are blinded by what is not, and from seeing what can be. Oh, how we need faith to see beyond what presently is!
God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. Romans 4:17
As long as I have lived in this house, I have wanted to remove the white landscape rocks from around the backyard pool. In my mind I could imagine what beauty would be enjoyed with ferns, hostas, lilies and the pop of color from blooming flowers. Overwhelmed by the huge amount of work it would take to remove all the rocks year after year, I only dreamed of what could be, escaping the necessary hard work. As I type theses words, I am familiar with them on a much deeper level.
Recently my niece encouraged me to join her at our family farm to dig up bulbs from all sorts of flowers originally planted by great grandmother. She gave me five very special gladiola bulbs, and immediately I could picture these tall flowering plants standing along the fence of the rock garden declaring the glory of the Lord. I know very little about gardening, but I do know you don’t sow seeds or precious bulbs in rocky soil.
After clearing out a winters worth of dead leaves, I decided I would remove just enough rocks to make room for these precious bulbs. As I took the shovel and removed the top layer, I soon learned that through the years, the rocks had been lodged deep within the dirt. If I was going to reclaim this soil for a garden, it was going to require a lot of hard work. Common sense told me that I would have to dig deep to remove the rocks and loosen the soil for a new garden. I so wanted the easy way of just raking the rocks to the side and digging a little hole.
Not only did I have to dig up the rocks, but also I had to figure out what to do with them. I now had a barrel full of rocks that I couldn’t even budge. The more I worked the more exhausted I became and the more impossible the project seemed. Within a short time, I was beyond frustrated and ready to give up. I questioned why I ever even started this project, but something told me this had a deeper meaning.
Like the chorus of a song, I continued to declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” For every “I can’t” that formed in my mind, I repeated, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Lord give me the strength!”
I gained perspective to put all of my focus on this one little spot. Forget all the rest and prepare the soil for five bulbs that needed to be planted quickly. A determination grew within to continue this project if it takes me all summer. (I’m sure I will keep you posted in future blogs, because there seems to be a blog in everything that I do.)
The entire project was way overwhelming, but when I broke it down, I could see it as possible. It is very true that I prefer saving beautiful pictures on Pinterest than raking leaves, moving rocks and digging hard dirt.
I see this little garden project played out over and over in my personal life. I desire change, but the hard work and perseverance necessary cause me to avoid change. I dream about the change, pray about the change and even write a plan for change, but I don’t want to do the hard work. What looks impossible seems to paralyze me. It’s easy to dream of more, while staying the same year after year. Can anyone relate?
I think this is the very reason that Jesus asked the cripple man at the pool of Bethesda if he wanted to be healed. (John 5:6) Jesus wanted to know if the man was ready for change. It would require him to get up and do something different. Often times it is easier to stay in the pitiful, but comfortable condition, rather than to go after new life.
In Philippians 3, I am challenged by Paul’s tenacity to know Christ fully. Paul’s words express great exertion, determination, zeal, perseverance and hard work in the race of knowing Jesus and maturing. I too want to be willing to do the hard work in life through the power of Christ’s strength. I am coming to know the joy of personal discipline and hard work to be made more and more into the image of Jesus.
"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Lord, I find rocky patches in my heart. I can’t change it on my own.
Give me courage and endurance to do the hard work through the power of your spirit. Break up the hard ground in my heart that new life can break forth declaring the glory of God. Help me to know that when I am weak, you are strong. Give me courage to do the hard things to get the God-result.
Thank you for hope in Resurrection Life.