Job 23:10 (NIV)
“He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
“I said I wasn’t going to be one of those people that drops in on you with their problems,” she said, finding me in the garden, “and here I am. Sorry.”
“Don’t be. I consider it an honor that you would come looking for me,” I assured her.
“I didn’t know who else to talk to about this and I figured with the sun out, I knew where you would be.”
“Well, don’t give away my secret, but you found me. What’s up?” I said, patting the fountain wall for her to sit on while I finished fertilizing.
“I know you told us that after high school, real life would surprise us, but I don’t think I’m prepared enough for the ‘real’ part of it!” she said, muffling a little sob.
I smiled, patted her knee and said, “Ah, your blessings have already started!”
“Blessings? Yeah, right! No, I meant—-“
“I know what you meant,” I assured her, handed her a shovel and instructed her to cut the roots when I pulled back on the tree.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “Is there something wrong with this tree?”
She began to share her heartaches with me, her struggles with tough decisions for her life and just the overwhelming process of deciding who she was or wanted to be. She shared how afraid she was of making a mistake or hurting others with her decisions. Her independent discovery process was a bit more than she’d bargained for at eighteen years of age.
I pulled on the tree while she uncovered the decayed roots and untangle them from the soil in the flowerbed.
“Sometimes we need to make tough decisions about hard choices. With prayer, we can turn some of the decision making over to the Lord trusting He will morph that decision into something perfect for us. The hard part is having enough faith to leave the decisions alone and allow God to shape them for us. Faith is tough that way, but essential to living our best life.”
“I get it but . . . , what if other people keep you from your choices?” she questioned.
“That can happen, if you let it. I’d be more worried about the walls you set up for yourself that block your own blessings.”
“But I’m not trying to block myself,” she said earnestly.
“I know you think you’re not, but you are sort of boxing yourself in, wanting to make decisions that make everyone happy. I can tell you, that kind of decision making won’t work. How much quiet time do you spend with the Lord?” I asked.
“I go to youth group, Sunday school and church every week. I even went to camp last month,” she assured me.
“I didn’t ask you how many Christ-centered activities you participate in. I asked you how often are you alone with your Bible and your prayers? When do you spend time just telling Him what’s going on in your life and then asking Him what you should do, which opportunities you should take up and which deadwood you should cut out of your life?”
“Not much,” she responded.
“Well there’s where you can start. Our lives may appear to be out of sorts or to have what feels like the world falling in around us while everything goes wrong. But I assure you, God is not asleep on the job. He hasn’t vacated the throne and I’ve read the Bible for years and can’t find one place where he wrote, ‘Oops!’”
“Yeah, but it’s hard,” she said.
“Anything worth valuing always is,” I commented as we both yanked the dead tree from its spot.
“What do you mean my blessings have already begun?” she asked returning to the earlier part of our conversation.
“What might look like trouble, is actually training. Sometimes He removes us from tough situations and sometimes he plops us right smack in the middle of tough stuff for our sake! You’re being groomed for something bigger than yourself, and you need to learn to grow and stretch even when it’s uncomfortable. It might not feel like it now, but struggles reap future blessings,” I said. I’m not sure she believed me, but she does trust me, so she took in the information.
She picked up the little tree and carried it to the compost pile. “So why did this tree die?”
“It failed to stretch out its roots so it failed to thrive,” I said. “Maybe there’s a metaphor for life in that little tree.”
“Like me?” she asked, being way too hard on herself.
“It doesn’t have to be. You are so much more than deadwood or a dwarf tree. You have the potential to be a mighty oak, if you learn to be still and listen, and then have the courage to act on the things you know to be truth. Remember, you have a job here that only you can do. All you need is faith that God will show it to you and then the obedience to do it!”
“It’s that simple?”
“It’s that simple: the hard part is living life anticipating He will fulfill promises. One thing I’ve learned about our Savior is that He will bless us, but it will be at the perfect moment—His answer, His way, in His perfect timing.”
“What’s that,” she said, pointing to a shoot hidden beside the hole where we’d just yanked out the little dead tree.
“Looks like the Rose of Sharon tree left behind a little shoot growing from one of the dead roots. She’s trying again.”
For more stories like this check out: The Real Dirt on Being Happy! (Lessons From the Garden series)