But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be thy glory both now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
I love when spring shows up in the dead of winter. It was one of those 60 degree days in February. My windows opened to usher in the fresh air, the smell of spring and the hint of new beginnings thick on the breeze. My soul needed this winter reprieve, and my heart was full of hope and possibilities. I had a busy day; but just before dinner, I asked my daughter to join me for a walk. I couldn’t let that day go by without spending time outdoors.
As soon as we walked out the door, we noticed the sky. It was grey, but bits of blue held on before the sun went down. The clouds hung in the sky like a picture of the ocean. We saw waves swirling in the heavens. As we looked over the rooftops, we felt like we were on a sandy beach taking in the horizon.
As we walked up the hill, we noticed a leaf in the middle of the black mulch. No longer buried under the snow, its color drained by sun and time; the seemingly exhausted leaf lay outstretched and lifeless. Something about it intrigued me. I understood the worn and weathered leaf, splayed out in contempt of its dire circumstances. Cutting ties with the life it knew, the leaf fell to the ground, was carried unmercifully by the wind, and endured the brutal cold of winter; yet, it was still there.
Along our way, we noticed tall grasses, not a hint of green left on their husk-like blades; but still standing just the same. Inside their tangled tops were what looked like dandelion seeds caught in the snarled strands. I wondered if they were caught there, or if they took refuge there, sheltered from the elements. Either way, the seeds were safe for now, awaiting the right time to take root and grow.
The clouds turned dark as the sun grew antsy, and we headed home. A mild breeze blew through the trees as bare branches swayed to and fro. On the tips of each branch was a tiny bud. Curious, we inspected more closely. On the tips of the barren tree branches sprouted what would one day become new leaves and growth. Although the tree was brown and sparse, those buds would soon explode with lush leaves and life.
Later that night, I scrolled through the pictures from our walk and thought about springtime. I didn’t want the mild weather to end. Never fond of winter, but I learned to appreciate it in recent years. The earlier evenings brought my family together. The cold weather kept us home, snuggled on the couch or engaged in conversation. Comfort foods and favorite recipes graced our dinner table.
Winter wasn’t so bad after all.
Spring was a time of renewal, but winter was a time of work. Local gym advertisements warned us to work out in the winter because bathing suit season was quickly approaching. My husband traveled more in the winter as construction projects were underway on summer rental properties preparing for the travel season. Just like the trees spent the winter preparing for the coming spring, it seemed everyone was preparing for something.
I was too.
Like those trees that shed their leaves in fall, I let go of things that no longer served me …feelings, past hurts, and sometimes, even people.
I felt things changing inside of me. I felt those buds growing inside my heart and soul.
I wanted to grow closer to God. I wanted to work on myself, and my relationship with Him. I prayed to become the person I was meant to be, to get past the hurt and the daily disappointments, for God to clear my path, and to show me on what to focus. I spent more time in prayer, and worked on giving my worries to God. That was difficult for me. I liked to be in control, but if I wanted to grow in faith, I had to become more faithful.
When I prayed for something, I remained open, and prepared for what may come. Sometimes, God answered prayers in ways we didn’t expect. It was scary, yet freeing to put my life in His hands.
He opened my eyes to situations. Some, I saw more clearly. Some, I didn’t want to see. But only with my eyes wide open could I make the best decision and walk the right path.
He showed me the hearts of people. He brought me closer to some and placed distance between others. I had to trust that God was surrounding me with those who had my best interest at heart, and protecting me from those who didn’t.
I have learned some tough lessons over the past few months, but I knew it was all for good. God never took something away without replacing it with something better.
He allowed disappointment, but He gave me peace.
When my soul was burdened, He whispered in my heart.
When I was feeling unworthy…
You are loved.
When people let me down…
When I felt invisible…
I see you.
When I felt weak…
I will give you strength.
When I doubted myself…
You can do all things through Me.
I have struggled. I have questioned.
During those trying times, I heard God’s whispers, but it still hurt my heart.
I wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to follow Jesus.
But there were moments when I was weak.
I wanted to return the snide remarks and the backhanded insults. I wanted to call people out when they were being unfair. I wanted to know why they treated me that way. I wanted to make people feel as badly as they made me feel.
I wanted to right the wrongs. I wanted to fight the fight.
But I wanted peace more.
And God told me how to get it.
I bit my tongue. I turned the other cheek. I focused my eyes on Him.
I caught my breath, dusted off my heart, and kept going.
I remained silent.
I nursed my hurt feelings through Scripture.
I worked even harder when I suffered a setback.
I relied on God’s strength, and not my own.
I thought about those pictures I took that day, and I saw myself in them.
I was that leaf lying on the ground, battered; yet, not broken.
I was the tree, working quietly (and secretly) to better myself. I closed my eyes and imagined those buds of self-confidence, self-worth, and a deeper faith forming under the surface. I didn’t want to be full of doubt and full of worry. I didn’t want to question myself all the time. So, I gave myself over to God and allowed Him to work on me – from the inside out.
I was the dandelion seeds wrapped in the tendrils of the tall grasses. I found shelter in God’s arms. Sometimes, I rested there on my own, and sometimes God scooped me up; but He always had me. I found rest in Him, and would take flight on my own when I felt strong enough; but always under His watchful eyes.
God was in the picture of the sky.
He made the wind and the waves that flowed over the oceans; and sometimes, into my life. Water was powerful. It destroyed, and it soothed. It broke down barriers, and formed new paths.
That was happening to me.
That was happening in me.
I put my life in God’s hands, and when I did, I knew the waves may come.
I also knew I could stand up to the waves, if I stood with God.
It wasn’t easy. I was a work in progress. When I relied on God, I didn’t have to rely on myself. He gave me the strength I needed.
When I relied on God, I didn’t have to worry about what other people thought. Their opinions didn’t matter. Their actions weren’t personal attacks, but expressions of their own hearts and what was inside of them.
God placed those signs in front of me on our walk that day, and God opened my eyes to see them.
Then He whispered on my heart.
Rely on me, and I will take care of you.
Trust in me, and I will not let you fall.
Keep praying, and keep working.
Yes, it was still winter, but my Spring was coming.