You can learn a lot from a little bump in the road.
After dealing with the washouts and snow removal problems of a gravel driveway for thirty years, we finally got ours paved. It was a multi-day operation with lots of trucks and noise; the lane had to be first graded, then rolled before a thick layer of road-quality asphalt was laid on top. Once completed, however, we were thrilled with the end result.
But the other day as I was walking up it to the mailbox at the side of the road, marveling again at the thick blackness that was going to make our lives so much easier in future storms and snows, I suddenly noticed a series of bubbles that had risen in the previously smooth surface! Intrigued, I leaned down for a closer look at one, and was shocked to see that a plant was pushing its way through the black tar on top of it! Further inspection revealed that the same was happening in various spots all up and down the length of the lane. Somehow there were seeds in that soil that not only survived the scraping and pressing operation, but also the heat of the oil and tar mixture that had been laid on top of them. They simply pushed through the obstacle to grow as they had been made to do.
Our journey through life is rarely without its difficulties, and sometimes the number and timing of the same can be such that we are simply overwhelmed. Our faith can feel a little like the seeds in my driveway – hard-pressed by circumstances that are out of our control, and buried in layers of suffering that the devil hopes will stop us from believing and becoming all God created us to be and do. The good news is that if He lives inside of us we can not only survive this current firestorm but thrive in the season which follows.
In the springtime that follows fall wildfires, the southern California mountains come alive with new blooms that aren't normally seen in the wildflower mix of other years. There are seeds in the soil that actually need the heat of a fire to germinate. The resultant plants, called “fire followers”, produce blooms that are strikingly more beautiful than their more common soilmates.
It's my prayer that the same thing happens to us...that God gives each of us the fire-following faith and strength of mind and body to push through the current difficulties and display a whole new level of beauty and grace for His glory on the other side.
“...we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectation such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
(Romans 5:3-5 MSG)