With a heavy heart and while blinking back the tears from my eyes, I knelt under our freshly planted, scrawny-looking pear tree. I lovingly watered it and willed it to grow and bring forth “life” even though my heart was feeling far from alive. For several years, I kept watching this tree and wondered if it would survive. In many ways, the empty branches were a reflection of how I felt. Twice after this, we uprooted the soil that was growing around the tender roots of this tree — each time adding another little homemade box. More tears flowed…another part of my heart seemed to be uprooted and harshly trampled upon. With each burial, the pain intensified. I kept watching for signs of life coming from my fragile tree. There really was nothing beautiful about it. I expected it to also shrivel up and die. But it didn’t. It kept growing bigger, and as the leaves began budding each spring, I started envisioning our three, tiny babies now also experiencing their new life in heaven with Jesus. My pear tree continued inspiring and comforting me, however, the last few weeks it has filled my heart with more joy than ever…
I love springtime — especially springtime in the mountains. The Dogwood trees and creeping Phlox are blooming, Daffodils are generously gracing the sides of the roads, while the Forsythias and Bradford pear trees burst with color and revive my spirit. Spring seems to speak HOPE to me. There is just something about warmer days, and tender, blooming flowers bursting through the stagnant soil that draws me outdoors and renews my energy. Springtime seems to almost magically change my outlook on life. My scrawny pear tree has heightened my awareness of all of my blessings and the purpose that God has for us during the times when “the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines.” (Habakkuk 3:17)
I have been rejoicing in the fact that after the last few years of barren branches, my withered-looking tree is finally blooming! It is now covered with beautiful white blossoms. I am thrilled with how it portrays exactly what God has also been doing in my heart the last few years. God has given me this gentle reminder of how He always desires to redeem the hurt and pain that we experience in life. If we allow Him to determine what HE places within our soil, He, the Tiller of our soil, will determine the beauty that we are able to produce. He can take each difficult event we face and turn it into something of exquisite beauty.
Each of us will encounter and survive multiple trials and difficulties in our lives. The “Why, God?” questions, that we all face, are very painful, but I’m so grateful that, in time, they also seem to lessen in their intensity. In His own time, God brings to life His very purpose for allowing us to face each tough circumstance we ever have to deal with. We will some day begin feeling an “awakening” and “renewing” when we continue trusting in His sovereignty, in spite of our circumstances.
Each week, I answer many emails and messages from individuals who are facing very difficult situations. There are countless, hurting people all around us. I never have enough time in my days to reach out to everyone like I would like to. As believers, we are called by God to “preach good tidings unto the meek; bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…” (Isaiah 61:1.) I wonder what would happen if each of us would take our eyes off ourselves and look for ways to reach out to the many hurting people right around us.
One of the lessons I learned from our tree is that there are many people who are in the “dormant” stages of their lives. It may seem like there is little purpose to the tears they are shedding. Little hope of God doing a work of beauty with their scraggly “trees” they have planted. However, I believe that God is wanting to bring to full bloom the beauty He intended to result from their trials. Maybe you are in a time like this, or maybe you are observing someone else in this condition. Does God want to use YOU as the refreshing rain during a dry season in someone’s life?
There is a man in our community who reminds me of the old movie documentary that Focus on the Family produced years ago entitled, “A Man Called Norman.” He is, in many ways, viewed as an outcast and a misfit and has been this way for all his life. In recent weeks, I have seen him frequently and have had several good conversations with him. His mannerism and personal appearance is not exactly attractive, however, this man loves the Lord and talks to others about Him even at the cost of receiving greater rejection. He has faced many years of rejection from his family and close friends and reminds me of a lost boy living in an elderly man’s body. God has been giving me the opportunities to speak life to him. As I have reassured him of how valuable and special he is to God, he has soaked up every word like parched soil on a hot summer day. Every time he receives any kind of affirmation of who he is in Christ, his spirit is totally revived.
There are many around us who are facing incredible pain and loss. They live in despair. Let’s reach out to them! May we allow God to “break” us and then use us as “broken bread” for the hurting and the lost that He brings across our paths.
When we are in these times of pain, when we see no “life,” we also need the love and support of others to encourage us not to lose hope. Springtime is coming! Where there is pain, there is an opportunity for healing, where there are tears, laughter becomes more meaningful, where there is conflict, restoration is beautiful, where there is an impossibility, therein lies the opportunity for a miracle, and where there is death, there will certainly be a resurrection! Live in that reality today!
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)