Outside of my office window, a row of bushes line the side of my house. It is winter, and they show no evidence of life. The dark sticks reach upward and stand out against the white snow.
If I didn’t know better, I would say they are dead. They are brown and brittle. It appears that life was there at one time, as a few dead leaves grip the branches, but other than that there is no remnant of a living, flourishing bush.
Now, generally speaking, I do know better. Every winter I lose sight of life in the trees and bushes around me, and yet, every spring they begin to bud and grow new leaves – revealing life.
Yet, on this particular day, I find myself pondering, “What if they don’t? What if one of the bushes does not sprout back to life? What if most of them do, but not all of them?”
And then I realize that (more than I would like to admit), I find myself doubting God in this same way. I know that He is about the business of change and re-growth. I have seen it in season and out of season, time and time again. However, there is this nagging thought, “What if He decides to not bring a certain part of my being back to life? What if it looks dead now and really is dead?” I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can “what-if” myself into a pit.
The reality is that God can do whatever He wants to do, and He is not only in control of everything but He is good. I need to remind myself that my hope is in Him, not in what He chooses to do and not to do.
If one of my bushes outside does not grow back, it’s OK. I will dig it out and plant something else there -- maybe something different, something prettier, something stronger.
Dear reader, perhaps you find yourself in a “winter season” of life, when all seems brown and brittle – in the midst of a great trial or a time of waiting and wondering. We all experience it from time to time, and it is hard. We do not know what God is going to do next, and it can be a time filled with doubt. He may be asking us to trust Him in the winter, but He has good things for us in the spring. We live by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). If He should choose to allow something to die, He may plant something else in its place. Either way, He is always growing in us a greater faith when we choose to trust in Him – and that truly does make us stronger and more beautiful.
How do we do it? How do we live by faith? Well, I am definitely a “perpetual student” in this area of life. From what I have learned thus far, we choose to trust God -- believing in Him and loving Him in all circumstances of life. Step by step, minute by minute, day by day we offer to Him a willingness to follow Him in times of cold and in times of warmth. We make this choice not based on what the outcome will be, but out of our love for Him and a belief that no matter what, He has our best interest at heart and loves us very much.