My friend, Gayle Roper, blogs about widow-hood at Widows Journey (www.widowsjourney.com). Even though I'm not a widow, her insights into her challenging season of life are a blessing. It gives me even greater appreciation for my wonderful husband, and I better understand the difficulties of my friends who are widows.
Recently, one of her posts spoke to me so much that I wanted to share it with you. It has a spiritual application that applies to all of us. Here are her words:
"As you know, I’m living in a new house. There is no landscaping yet since the house was finished in December, too late for grass. As a result I’m surrounded by dirt, dirt and more dirt. In a bow to keeping the dust down and the mud controlled, straw (or hay—how do you tell them apart?) was spread over the dirt.
"They say that this week they are going to start putting in lawns for my place and the surrounding homes. They plan to rake up the straw and put down seed. Then they will water it until the seed germinates and a true lawn begins. I say, why not sod? It’s quick and efficient, but they say it’s also prohibitively expensive.
"In lots of ways my 'lawn' reminds me of being a widow. When this new version of my life began, I felt barren and bleak, like the view outside my windows. My personal landscape held none of the beauty and vitality of what I had known for years.
"The straw spread over the dirt is sort of like the daze, the haze that settled over me in those early months, protecting me, holding me in place when I felt like I might blow away in any wind that gusted in my direction.
"The sod is like my wish for a quick end to my grief, but it’s not wise to look for the easy way because it’s too expensive emotionally. Grief has to be allowed to move at its own pace, just as the seed for my grass must grow at its own pace.
"Eventually I will look out on a healthy green lawn that will grow stronger every year. Eventually I will look at my time of grief and see I’ve become a healthier woman, a stronger woman, a woman with a deeper understanding of God’s love and concern for His people.
"A good outcome to that gives purpose to the ugliness."
Gayle's insights remind me of Exodus 23:28-30. The Israelites are getting ready to go into the Promise Land and God says something surprising:
I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you. I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land. (NASB)
Sometimes it's hard to think of God being satisfied with step-by-step progress--planting seed for a new lawn. We think He only wants the instant and total sanctification of sod. If His power is sufficient for everything, we wonder, then why can't we conquer every sin instantly?
But just as the journey of grief that Gayle is traveling serves a purpose, so does God driving out the enemies "little by little." If we became instantly perfect, we'd no longer need God's help. We could become proud of our progress and we could judge others for their lack of success. Yes, the "beasts" of pride and self-sufficiency could easily become too numerous.
Are you seeking or longing for the "sod" of instant perfection, gratification, or seeing all of the future? I encourage you to seek the purification of "little by little" progress. Make small and reasonable goals and be grateful for God's work--even though it seems small at times. Appreciate the small changes of good in others. And enjoy challenges for they are driving you to Jesus's feet in humility and neediness.
God is growing a healthy lawn of holiness in you!
(Images courtesy of markuso and cbenjasuwan from FreeDigitalPhotos.net)