My Life As A Seed

I bought some seeds the other day in anticipation of the spring.  I have spent this past winter drawing out plans for where I wanted to plant seeds in my back yard and I’m about ready to put those plans in action.  This morning, looking out my window I became impressed with how much my life right now resembles the life of my seed.

A seed, when looked at out of the package, does not show it’s full potential without some help from me.  I imagine if the seed could talk it might complain about being shoved into the dark ground.  Not knowing the damp, dark place was the only way that strong roots

would begin to develop, the little seedling that doesn’t trust I have his best outcome in my plan may pout or complain or even refuse to let the urgings to put out roots take hold.  For that little seedling, the full potential of what he could become is held back not by me but by himself.  The seedlings that are willing to trust me may not see the extra care I am taking of them while they are buried under the dirt, but I am making sure that predators are kept away and that the seedling is getting the nourishment it needs to be resilient to disease from within or storms that might try to break it.

Eventually, when the time is right and strong roots have been put down, the little seedling begins to emerge.  Soon a beautiful flower will be exhibited with intricate petals and brilliant colors.  The seedling that soaked up the nutrients I gave it while it was in the dark and put out strong roots will be the brightest, biggest bloom in the garden.  It will be seen for what it is, a beautiful creation that was nurtured and loved by someone so that it’s full potential is now evident.  This little seed that has now bloomed will provide beauty to everyone around it, nourishment to the insects and birds that feed from it, and might even help other plantings around it become resilient to pests that might otherwise have destroyed them.

How closely I resemble that little seed.  Right now I am in a season of planting.  I’m not sure I really like being shoved in the dirt and I certainly can’t see all that God is doing in my life, but I trust that He is protecting me from harm and He is providing the nutrients I need to so that when my time comes to do what God has called me to do and be what He has called me to be I can be resilient to storms and disease-free.  I trust that God will help me to grow into my identity.  Like the seedling my job is to soak up the nourishment from God’s Word and in relationship with Him so that I can use this season of my life to plant strong roots.

I am certain that when my time comes, if I am like the trusting seedling who has trusted and laid down strong roots, I will bloom – not into a “new” me, but into a better version of me – a version that more closely resembles the creation God intended me to be.  If I bloom as God is nurturing me to, I can’t help but reflect the beauty of my Creator!

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Broken – Lessons Learned From The Past

Broken – Lessons Learned From The Past

I wrote the following over a year ago, but as I was reading it the other day I realized that these lessons are still a part of me today and worth sharing again.  Thank goodness that God is still building me, shaping me, forming me into a better version of His creation than I ever thought possible.

The most accurate description of brokenness I can come up with is that it is like living on a precipice.  Somehow I’ve had the resilience to climb back up to my perch on the precipice and cautiously stand; afraid to make a move in case I tumble back into one of the valleys that surrounds me on all sides. It’s from this vantage point that I’m writing about a few things I’ve learned.

I have learned that brokenness will either transform or destroy you. What it will never do is leave you the same. I don’t think that experiencing a catastrophic loss, whether self-imposed or from outside forces, will ever entirely leave our soul. If anything it may go deeper in our soul, but as it goes deeper it enlarges the soul so that we become capable of mourning and rejoicing at the same time. We learn what it means to have a sweet sorrow. We never go through this alone. It is in the place of our deepest pain and greatest brokenness that the Lord is mercifully present as we learn to humble ourselves before Him.

I have learned that God works through our brokenness in ways we could never begin to imagine. God partners with broken people. He tells us “I see you, I know you, you are not invisible to me.” He wants to see people reconciled with each other and reconciled with Him. It takes hard work to get to this place. The first thing I have had to be able to face is the truth. Truth about who I am and who I was. Truth about my role in fracturing relationships. I have learned that we can’t be set free from anything in our past unless we are willing to admit it. This doesn’t mean that I have to stand in front of a microphone or produce a detailed recording of confession for everyone. But it does mean that for some relationships I will have to confess before any healing can take place.

I have learned to turn to the Bible. The Bible has become a constant companion. It is my light during moments of darkness. God has spoken words of comfort through it when I desperately needed them. I am learning to spend more time with my Bible than I do with any other human being. It is a love letter to me from God. Jesus Christ has become very real and apparent through the words I read. As more of God’s Word is revealed to me, I am developing a deeper trust for Him. I see God expressing words of intense brokenness, sorrow and grief over me – someone that He loves. I read where He feels the sting of our every wound and weeps with us through every painful moment. The Bible shows me that I am not alone in my sin and that the Christian journey is one of God bringing us out of our sinful, rule-based, self-righteous, self-sufficient, prideful dependence on our own capabilities into dependence on Him. His word is unfolding before me and describing God’s renewing work in the midst of my tears. I understand what Oswald Chambers meant when he wrote, “The Bible was written in tears and to tears it yields its treasures.”

I have learned that the sins we willingly indulge in will become our destruction. When we play with fire, we are going to get burned. God will allow us to suffer the consequences of our sins. Sin can fracture relationships, and it is painful to walk around barefoot among the shards. These broken bonds hurt – they hurt in the deepest places that we never want to talk about. The truth is that sin, unchecked and unrepented of, is devastating. I can no longer walk in my own strength and charm successfully. In fact, charm has flown out the window. I walk in utter failure. I have been emptied of so much of my old self. Admitting I don’t have it all together is hard to do. I can live with that. I will gratefully walk with a spiritual limp from now on.

Repentance follows confession. The Greek word for repentance is “to think in a new direction”. I have offered up both the dry-eyed confession of sin that is more of a decision of will and the sacrifice of gut-wrenching confession that comes from sorrow. Although more painful, I can only hope that all of my confessions from this point on carry the sting of godly sorrow and tears. It was not seeing my sin so glaringly in my face or my world shattered at my feet that brought me to repentance. It was God’s love and kindness, His severe mercy. I could not begin to comprehend all I needed to repent of, because I could not begin to unravel the deceitfulness of my heart. But what I did have was humility in my brokenness. God’s love has accomplished what my legalism never could. It has brought me to a place of brokenness and humility. It is impossible for me to fully understand the disparity between God and myself, but through mercy and love I can begin to see that there is freedom from the chronic, nagging, un-resolved inner pain that drives me away from instead of towards God. Repentance is not punishment. Repentance is what we do because we are forgiven. It is not what we do to earn forgiveness. Repentance is an expression of gratitude and sorrow for sin. We have nothing to fear when we come to God in brokenness and repentance. Through repentance I have found an intimate place of great grace with my Father. From this point of brokenness the possibilities for restoration are boundless.

I have learned much about forgiveness, both my own capacity for extending it and others capacity for giving it. Every morning I have to make a decision to be willing to let go of past hurts or grudges, or I will never be free of them. Forgiveness is about letting go of the right to hold myself or others in judgment about how I feel I have wronged or been wronged by them. Forgiveness is an extension of love and it makes us vulnerable. But one cannot truly love without vulnerability. It was Christ’s love for us that made Him vulnerable and led him to sacrifice himself on a cruel and wonderful cross for those who did not love him.

I have learned that compassion and forgiveness from others are necessary, but once we trust God and His never failing mercy we can continue on even if we never receive compassion or forgiveness from others. Compassion requires us to go to the place where the broken person is. It requires us to go with someone to where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely and broken. To a broken person, the mere flicker of a look of disapproval or pointed silence will cause the shattered soul to shut down. Their hope for understanding seeps deeper into feelings of isolation and despair. They wonder if anyone cares enough to listen. Fear of being rejected or judged or hearing negative messages block our freedom to express grief. The broken person does not need helpful suggestions or scriptures quoted to them. Why is it that the scripture that admonishes us to weep with those who weep is most overlooked? Larry Crabb wrote, “When life kicks us in the stomach, we want someone to be with us as we are, not as he or she wishes us to be. We don’t want someone trying to make us feel better. That effort, no matter how well intended, creates a pressure that adds to our distress.” When the bottom falls out of our world, we need our deacons, elders, ministers, Sunday school teachers, and fellow believers to show up on our doorstep as soon as they can and offer nothing more than prayers and tears. Don’t wait to be asked. Just show up. For someone who is broken, the lack of this immediate reaching out can be the most painful part of the whole process.

Restoration from brokenness is not a quick fix. It is a lifelong process. I will have to make choices to intentionally replace sinful behavior with Godly behavior. There will be days when I must face my past and all the pain and anguish my choice and others choices have caused in my world.

For Christians, brokenness and the healing from brokenness is at the very heart of our faith. Jesus experienced brokenness in the flesh so we can be assured that God knows brokenness not in some abstract, spiritual way but in a very real and physical way. But God didn’t leave Jesus in a broken state. God didn’t give up. God continued a work of restoration in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why is it that when brokenness comes to us, we bury it somewhere deep inside us where it can simmer and gnaw away at our peace, faith and health until it has turned our hearts to stone, compounding our pride and unbrokenness layer by layer?

Brokenness molds our character closer to the character of God. Defeat, disappointment, loss, all of these things move us closer to God. I write this note from an honest admission of my inability to come to repentance or restoration unless Christ intercedes. I write from brokenness and a stripping of self. I am learning to thank God for the gift of holy moments and healing tears that bring me to His feet in brokenness. These moments make room for grace, forgiveness, comfort, healing, delivering and transformation. My sincerest hope is that through my brokenness Christ can be glorified.

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