“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” —Jeremiah 17:7-8
The heat coming, the year of drought, the rough times that this tree experiences come in many different forms. It could be a time of financial instability. It could be during the separation of two good friends. It could be when a loved one dies. It could be when the enemy is providing an onslaught of lies. It could be when the world, though you’re walking in the footsteps of the One who knows everything, is yelling at you to turn around and go in the other direction. Regardless of how hot the heat is, or from what direction the drought enters in, the tree stands tall and green.
I felt much like the tree these past couple of days, though at some points, when the heat came, I shriveled a bit because some of my roots grew too far from the stream, and yet the Lord dug them up and redirected them back to the Living Water.
Coming home from Florida, my family and I went right to the Brock household, where there was a sergeant recently returned from Korea that I needed to see 🙂 After having lunch with the Brocks, my family went home, leaving me behind to spend time with some of my favorite people. God had so wonderfully prepared me throughout my vacation in Florida to be ready and be further secured in His control over circumstances and in His desire to strengthen and love me, so that when I came to the Brock’s and to see Jacob after his being in Korea for six months, I was ready.
The following days were full of growth, all of that digging up of my roots having grown away from the stream and their redirection to where the water is so that I can withstand heat and drought and defeat anxiety and fear through the power of Him who made the trees, and the water, and yes, the heat.
Sunday night, Uncle Doug, Nathan, Jacob, and I ran nearly five miles of hills and rocky paths, sprinting through dark patches that echoed Mirkwood forest and brought a blue glow to the way the fireflies shown, warning us that Orcs were nearby so we should run faster. When I went to fall asleep, my insides hurt from running steep hills after having run on the flat concrete of Floridian sidewalks for a week. It was awesome 🙂
The next, Jacob took me out on a date 🙂 God used this day to strengthen me in ways I never imagined He could. Sure, every day requires my trust in God, but this particular day God put me in a position where I had no choice but to ultimately trust Him as I learned to further trust Jacob throughout the day. It was amazing 🙂
The rest of my time at the Brock’s was spent in spiritual warfare, reassurance, security, friendship, sisterhood, love, tears, and, yep, growth. There were many kitchen conversations, a tea party with real china and complete with after-tea-party sprints, and prayers that will forever be etched onto the surface of my heart.
Random subject change: when I first started writing, I outlined my stories based on what’s called the Story Mountain, or a plot structure diagram. There are five steps in this diagram: the exposition (beginning), rising action, climax, falling action, and then the resolution (ending/denouement). Well, in every story, mostly fictional stories and rarely biographies/autobiographies, there is one climax. Only one. The climax is the pinnacle of the story, the epic peak of the book.
As a writer, it’s difficult to not live in this mindset, having every “year of drought” be the climax, the one end all, be all moment when everything (and I mean EVERYTHING; time, space, matter, microwave popcorn, snuggies, life as we know it) will either end, or become eternally perfect in every way, requiring no further growth, because all that’s left is falling action, the tying up of loose ends. In life, there is no climax. There are phases of growth and, especially and purposefully for the Christian, diligence and endurance demanded and required of someone.
When I realized life was no longer about the climax, because there isn’t one (if there was a known climax, it would be a short time before I die, and since only God knows that, there’s no way for me to distinguish a climax even if there was one, if that makes any kind of sense), things became much less dramatic, and it became much easier to focus on trusting God in the daily moments, making the daily decisions in communion with Him, with Him in mind 🙂 From how I respond to my sister, to how I react to people driving on the highway. From what I think when the dryer shrinks all of my clothes, to how I handle my mom’s exhaustion from a long day. From how I talk to Jessica and Taylor as I get to study the Bible with them, to how I work at my job and minister to my boss, God and His word and all that He desires me to be, because of who I am in Him, should be part of those decisions. The best part? He’s with me the whole time 🙂 I can pray to Him the entire time, throughout the whole day, pouring out my thoughts to Him, letting Him handle my situations and helping me grow further in Him; I can depend on Him in every moment.
God intends for me to live every day with Him, to make a glorious habit out of spending time with Him. This journey with Christ is not about climatic moments that will suddenly make everything better, there is no “after this situation is resolved, after I see God work here, I’ll never struggle ever again”; again, it’s a walk of diligence and endurance. As cliche as it sounds, walking with Christ is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, but we have a God without limit, and we in the Spirit have unlimited access to His strength, patience, peace, self-control, and determination. When Christ said “with God all things are possible,” (Matt. 19:26) He wasn’t kidding.
And now I am home, with oodles of things to be done, refreshed in the way God fought and won a battle that I’ve never been able to win myself. This is completely new territory for me, and I’ve never seen Him work in this way, and I can’t wait to see if and how He’ll continue to do so. He made my window a door, and helped me walk through it, even though the enemy, my “old man,” and the world pulled at my arms and legs. As much as the enemy would like to remind me of what I’ve done, what I’ve been through, what others have done to me, what the world is “really” like, there is no shame in me, not anymore; there is no condemnation for me while I’m in Christ (Romans 8:1) and I am unashamed of the One who’s made me righteous before Him, clean and pure before the only One whose opinion of me truly matters (Colossians 3:23). And even with this victory, which did require my cooperation, my willingness to choose Him over my fear, over my uncertainty, over my pride, over my insecurity, I can claim no credit, because it was all Him, and it’s always been Him, and always will be Him 🙂