Sunday, July 24, 2016

God’s Season of Stretch Growth and Reward of Hope

I move leaves from one place to another, and from that place to yet another.  I move leaves.  It seems like pretty senseless and meaningless work.  Something akin to the mood of the writer, Qoheleth, of Ecclesiastes — “work is utterly meaningless!”
Yes, and no.  Yes, because on the surface my labours are in vain.  I don’t get anywhere.  My work should make me despondent.  I was certainly tempted to view such work as a waste of time.  But no, also.  And this may well be one of the meanings of life; a kernel of God’s wisdom He’s just shown me.  A truth for all to see.  Yet we can only see it if we meet our meaningless work with the candour of openness to wander with abandon into the wonder of His mystery.
Here’s the no.  The outcome of the work — blowing leaves from one place to another — is not the point.
The actual point is this: in doing the work, God works me into a reflective state, and then He speaks!  As I work, He teaches.  As I allow myself to be absorbed in the work, He guides, He satisfies, and He fulfils a promise.  As I work, He gives me revelation of hope.  Honestly, He flourishes in my mind and swells my heart with purpose.
In a season that has stretched me more than any other season, when I’ve been removed from my beloved vocation, I’ve approached work I would otherwise loath with a positive attitude — because I felt I had no choice but to honour God the best I could.  As a groundsman and handyman.  And because of that, He has rewarded me, because in stretching me, thus far I’ve not resisted His stretching.  Sure, I’ve complained bitterly at times.  Ask my wife.  At times I’ve been a pain to live with.  But the outcome of complaint is exhaustion, and in that weakness is surrender, and in surrender is fresh faith, which is resurrection.  Grace (let me call God, ‘Grace’) has continually brought me through from complaint, and, having forgiven my disobedience, has blessed my eventual obedience with His faith perspective.
I have come to fully believe this: God gives us something intensely salient when we surrender ourselves to go into a stretch season of growth with Him.
Such is God’s faithfulness He always gives us a reward of hope when we press in with Him into the pain of growth.
Such is the blessing of weakness, when we cannot resist His will to grow us, He avails to us strength in the dialect of hope.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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