“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…”
“I want to feel healthier,” I told God as I sat under the early morning stars.
“Keds,” God said.
“Shoes? That’s the answer?” I asked, scratching my head.
“Yes. Put on your Keds and go for a walk,” He insisted.
“No excuses!” God interrupted. And so, I pulled on my shoes and started out in the soft light of dawn. Three miles later, I was tired but happy.
“Do it again tomorrow,” God suggested. When tomorrow came around, I found a million reasons to avoid the long walk. “What you are feeling is the biggest barrier to a good life.” God said as I rolled over in bed, pulling the blanket tighter around me.
“What’s that?” I mumbled, still sleepy.
“Resistance,” God explained. “It stops so many people from claiming the abundance I’ve put on the Earth for them. “It’s a very powerful force. It takes a lot of love to break past it.”
“Love?” I questioned.
“Yes, love. If you love yourself enough, you’ll break past your resistance to exercising. If you love yourself enough, you’ll break past the resistance to anything that is in your way to a good life. You’ll be able to do the things that you are afraid to do.”
“I’ve never thought of resistance that way before,” I confessed.
“People resist all kinds of things that would help them to have a fuller, richer life. It’s not so much that they are lazy, it’s that they don’t understand that My love inside of them is a very powerful force. It can break through any fear, any resistance.”
I kicked off the covers and dressed quickly in the dark. I went out into the crisp morning air, out past the resistance that has been holding me back.
“…let your light shine before others…”
There had been no rain for many months. Like all the other gardens in the village, the widow’s garden withered in the sun. She limped to the door, bearing her weight on her good leg, and looked out at the desolation. Picking up her cane and a watering can, she hobbled out as far as she could go. Gingerly, she eased herself down on the ground. She sat and watered the plants around her. She lovingly removed spent blooms and weeded.
A neighbor walked by. “Widow,” she called, “You waste your time. Nothing can survive this drought.”
The widow just smiled.
Soon, another neighbor walked by. “Widow, what about the plants along your back fence?” she asked.
“I cannot reach them,” answered the widow, honestly.
Another neighbor walked by. “You can’t save your garden,” said the neighbor.
“I’m not trying to save the entire garden,” said the Widow. “I’m just doing what I can do.”
The next day, inspired by the widow’s efforts, the neighbors went out into their gardens and did what they could do. They tended to a few of their plants.
This is how we change the world. We put our energy into that which we can do. We trust that we inspire others to do what they can do. We don’t waste our energy worrying about that which is beyond our reach. That, we leave to God.
As it sometimes happens, I found myself facing a challenging situation. “This is a hard time,” I shared with God while out on my morning walk.
“I know it is, Sparrow,” God answered.
“And painful, too,” I lamented.
“Indeed. Transformation can be painful at times,” God whispered.
“That’s what’s happening?” I asked. “I’m being transformed?”
“Yes. My hands are breaking away the hardened parts of you and transforming them with my love,” He explained. “The pain will pass.”
“Then I will submit to your perfect hands and trust that you are shaping me for the better,” I said.
“I’ll walk with you and comfort you this morning,” God said and we walked and talked until I had to return to the cottage to start my day at work. I trusted that God’s good hands would help me to be the person He wants me to be.
All rivers run into the sea.
A group of pickers descended upon the orchard just as I finished my work. I stood by the window and watched them tug the pudgy bottom-heavy fruit from the trees. “I’ll miss the pears,” I said to God. I had grown used to seeing them dangling like ornaments from the trees.
“It’s their time,” God said.
“I know, everything has a season.”
That’s right,” God said. “One season fades into the next, like the rivers into the sea.”
“You’re a poet today, God!” I replied and smiled. I looked out over the rolling hills. The sun, now sinking towards the western horizon, painted the treetops orange. A lone hawk circled soundlessly above while the metronome tap, tap, tap, of a woodpecker kept perfect time. “You’re a poet every day. You must be, to create such grandeur.”
“Not everyone can see it,” God said.”Only those who aren’t frightened by impermanence can see it—those who understand that the river isn’t lost to the sea, but rather the two of them go on together, ecstatic to have finally found one other after so long apart.”
A breeze kicked up and sent leaves tumbling across the yard. “The pears may be gone, but soon, there will pumpkins” God whispered. I nodded and reached out for His hand to hold as the last picker walked out of the orchard.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!”
~2 Corinthians 5:17
An old friend stopped by. We hadn’t seen each other in years. We talked about old times. We laughed and joked about all of the crazy things we used to do. Then the conversation turned to the old wounds we had lived through. I found myself sharing the details of old hurts when suddenly I stopped mid-sentence. “I don’t live here anymore!” I said. “This isn’t my address any longer. I don’t dwell on the past hurts. I’ve let them go. I don’t want to resurrect them in a conversation.”
It felt liberating to be able to turn my attention and focus away from the chains that used to bind me. I used to walk around in my victimhood feeling sorry for myself. It was good to catch myself headed down that dark path to my old way of thinking and behaving. My friend seemed to understand my desire to avoid dredging up past trauma. She graciously shifted gears and once again we talked about happier times.
We are in control of what we talk about. We can decide to keep the wounds of the past alive, or we can let them go. I continually strive to let the past go. I have to be aware of where my conversations are taking me. I don’t want to go back to the dark places I used to live in my head and heart.
“Do not be discouraged.”
Needing some down time to process my bad mood, I shuffled over to Starbucks and ordered a decaf latte. I savored the warm cup in my hands as I slowly sipped the coffee. I’ve felt these feeling before. They are the fingerprints from past hurts—the pain of not being seen or heard, or respected. “What do I do God?” I prayed.
“Just breathe,” He answered.
“But my heart is aching,” I said. “Don’t I need to do something?”
“Close your eyes. Just breathe.”
Amid the hustle and bustle of a busy Starbucks, I closed my eyes. I took in a slow breath. I exhaled. I took in another, and another until my shoulders relaxed. My body let go of the tension it had been holding onto.
“Feel better?” God asked.
I opened my eyes. “I’m more relaxed, but what about this sorrow?”
“You can give that to me,” God answered gently.
“What does that even mean?” I said, somewhat defensively. “It’s not like I can put it in a box and hand it over to you.”
God replied with a great deal of patience in His voice, “You give me your hurt by letting go of the need to control others. You let my love for you be enough.”
“I’ll try,” I said.
“One more thing, Sparrow. Forgive,” God reminded me.
I swallowed the last of my coffee and left the table. I pushed open the door and walked back home holding God’s hand. It was enough.