I have retired my efforts to tend to our outside ice rink. You just can’t fight it. Spring’s warmth is around the corner. So, it is time to embrace the change of seasons and leave winter behind. Each of the four seasons in Canada affects nature in interesting ways. I entered this world via the Prairies, the endless sea of farmland. I did not grow up on the farm, but its impact certainly is left on me. While other Canadians may mock the flatness of the plains, to us “prairie folk” few things are more welcoming.
Spring is a busy time for the farmer. Many things need to be done to prepare for seeding, especially clearing the land. You would assume after many years of tilling and harvesting, there would be nothing left to clear the following Spring. But when the snow melts into the ground, it leaves behind all sorts of surprises. Out of nowhere, rocks and boulders are found scattered across the soil. Where did it all come from?
I see a similarity to our faith journey of discipleship. It feels good to rid our hearts and lives from negativity, brokenness and sin. But then without warning we trip over a surprise boulder. It could be anything. It may look like lashing out in anger or speaking an unkind word, or giving in to that familiar sin.
Where did this come from? I thought I dealt with this long ago!
Questions like these are promptly answered with shame and guilt. The voice of the accuser mimics our own, telling us that we are moving backwards. It will question our spiritual integrity, the validity of our testimony, and our authority in Christ. We feel like hypocrites, failures, and shams. What we are actually guilty of is “all or nothing” thinking.
We fail to appreciate that we are in process. Our product-driven society rarely encourages us to appreciate “the process”, and so we value results instead. But this process of holiness will lead us through seasons, not all of which will be comfortable.
When winter set in, the water in the soil expanded as it froze. The water underneath will push against the growing frost barrier. As the ground thaws again from the surface downward, it yields to the pressure beneath it. The ground heaves upwards, bringing whatever is there along with it. Any rocks and boulders discovered as a result of this were always there. They’ve been buried underground for many years, perhaps lifetimes before. This cycle of the seasons eventually works them to the surface. In some cases boulders weighing hundreds of pounds have been exposed. So the farmer has two choices: contend with the obstruction and work around it, or remove it.
It is not necessary to go digging to seek inner healing. There is plenty of dross heaved up to the surface of our hearts to keep us busy. We may not have seen it, but God knew it was there the whole time. He is not at all surprised. So while we stand in those moments wondering what went wrong, God gives us a choice: contend with the obstruction and work around it, or remove it. What we quickly see as a step backwards, God views it as a new season for grace and freedom. Throughout our lives, these obstructions must eventually come to the surface. When they do, Jesus invites us to deal with it. And He affords us the grace and strength to do so.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” – Philippians 2:12-13
We mistakenly run from the very One to lead us to freedom when we wallow in guilt and shame. That is not God’s desire for us in our process. Instead,
“let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. ” – Hebrews 4:16