It's interesting to me how sometimes God can seem to remain so silent through times of adversity, and then just kind of hit you with a simple yet effective revelation that not only reminds you just how dense you can be, but it also tends to make you feel embarrassed that you forget His simple truths.
I'm no stranger to hard times or seasons of spiritual droughts or even times of doubting. And the older I get, I realize it's part of the Christian walk -- part of growing up as a believer and maturing in that process.
For Valentine's Day in 2007, I ventured out on a snowy day to a local grocery store to get my wife a gift. I found a potted bush of baby roses and figured a lasting plant she could enjoy maintaining (she has a green thumb for this kind of stuff), would be a much more worthwhile and meaningful gift than a batch of regular roses that would wilt and die within a couple of days. Over the past year and a half or so, my wife has cared for this plant regularly, even when I forget it's even around. She's been keeping it outside on our back deck this summer so it can enjoy the elements, always worrying about it when a storm comes, quickly jumping to pull it in from bouts of hail or hard rain when the time comes.
Yesterday when I got up, I went downstairs to the kitchen to find her beloved potted plant sitting on the counter, all dried up and wilted. I exclaimed something along the lines of, "Omigosh! You killed the plant!!" in my usual sarcastic sort of way... only this time, I meant it half-jokingly until it suddenly clicked that my statement was erroneous. She assured me that it wasn't dead and that it only needed some pruning and TLC to get it back in tip-top, budding shape again. It was at that moment I felt like God smacked me lovingly upside the head with a brutally obvious and simple illustration to remind me that we all go through these seasons where we feel spiritually dead, but oftentimes God is just working on us... pruning out the junk in our lives, rescuing us from the hail storms and pushing us on to greater things. Our Father lovingly trims off the dead branches in our life, forcing us to give up things that aren't healthy for us; forcing us to grow in our faith. We might feel like we're left out in the rain... we might feel the pain of getting something taken away or being asked to let go of something we desperately want to hold on to or just feel comfortable with but need to give up... but in the end it's all part of His plan for us... and we just need to trust Him cause, well, Father knows best!
Check out John 15:1-17. Below are verses 15:1-11. Hopefully this has brought a little encouragement to you guys today... as God finally penetrates my dense mind - for a few days, at least - as to what it is He's doing in me.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.