"She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear at the future."
These past six weeks have been like sleepwalking through somebody else's nightmare. Yet, the reality is, this is my life right now. My prayer has been that on the other side of this I will have transformed more into Jesus and that I will be closer than ever to my Ever-present and Never-abandoning Father God. I would love to say I have journeyed well and lived these truths with perfection. I have not. I have cried, pleaded, raged, grieved, doubted.
The beautiful and simple words of the above Proverb have become my life verse, my goal each day. I pray that my not-so-perfect journey would bring me closer to being a living example of this proverb. While I am not perfect, I am continuing to be reminded of a Perfect God with a Perfect Plan.
This past weekend, I was doing some spring-cleaning in the garage and yard. If you had the ability to see past the outdoor sunshine as I waved to neighbors and passersby, and were to peer into my heart, you would have seen a Peanuts’ Pig Pen type of emotional cloud surrounding me, following me with each step of the day. This cloud was filled with the dirt of self-doubt and anxiety-riddled sadness. I picked up bags full of dead broken limbs, last autumn's leaves, and blown in trash. The more I cleaned, the weaker I was becoming and the larger the dirt cloud became.
I came inside for a drink and to get the mail. Opening an envelope from a hospital colleague, I was brought face-to-face with the loving care of an attentive Father God. The beautiful words of "The Oak Tree" poem were imprinted across a Hallmark card. Inside, I discovered heartfelt words penned by my fellow Sister-in-Christ. Through the words of this card, I was immediately reminded that God was committed to providing exactly was HE knows I need in every moment of my life, with each step I take, even in the task of cleaning up my yard.
I had picked up dead leaves that were blown harshly off trees in the fall and winter storms. I had crammed into bags the limbs that had been pruned by nature. Trash that needed put in its proper place was removed, leaving the yard ready and waiting for the new life of spring. "The Oak Tree" devotional gave spiritual words to my physical labor that day. I have been stripped bare these past weeks, my body and heart is weary, battered, and broken in many ways.
Yet, the deepest part of me, the strength that has been attacked by both circumstances and human words, has held me upright and standing strong with each new day.
The deep roots of that strength and dignity that dig deep into God’s foundation are growing deeper, making me stronger. Neither human words nor principalities of darkness can touch those deeps roots, for they are protected in the Shelter of The Most High.
Nature testifies to the glory of God. Indeed, it did just that for me as I sat with the greeting card in my hand looking at the labor of my day.
Amazingly, the Spirit's care for me that day was not yet complete. The day before, I had read a devotion that spoke of the trials of life stealing away our smile and our laughter. (The Day I lost My Smile http://networkedblogs.com/VN2MK) I had realized just last week that the smile on my face, that appeared only when required, went just as deep as the back of my teeth. It was not a smile grounded in my cheerful nature and the laughter that brought joy to my heart had been silenced. Reading the words of the devotion made me sadly aware that another human being's choices had taken from me a quality that was most often complimented by others. My smile was something God had handcrafted on me. It had been a gateway for Him to work through me with hurting people throughout the years.
Now, two days after that realization, the handwritten note of my compassionate colleague included these words "your big beautiful smile always warms my heart." My tears flowed again. This time they were tears of praise and thanksgiving for the Holy Spirit’s power to speak truth into this weary soul, this bare Oak Tree of a person. These tears were used to wash away some of the dirt in my ever-present cloud; allowing some sunshine to warm the chill and energize my fatigued body.
What has God taught me through this? My roots are deep in the foundation of my Creator and He will not stand for anyone to rip them out. My Loving God will use His Body of Believers to give those roots the nourishment they need and crave, even it is just one ounce or one sentance at a time. As my thank offering to Him, I cannot allow one person to steal my smile, my laughter, my joy.
Jesus Christ is alive and living inside of me. By the power of the Holy Spirit, new leaves will appear from my bare branches. I trust completely that God has big plans for new life to sprout from those places where I am being pruned,
Now that’s something to smile a strong and dignified smile about!