It is touching my heart in tender, merciful ways. Driving home from Shaver Lake this morning was worshipful. The mountain vistas and rocks and trees and hills seemed to be breaking into song all around. The beauty was stunning. These drought-stricken hills are a brilliant green, for a little while anyway, and I didn't want it to end.
(Can you see the rainbow off in the distance, just over the hill?)
While the green was lovely, I was most captivated by the oak trees.
It's hard to tell the difference between dormancy and death when you can only see the surface, but there they stood. Survivors of drought and fighters for life, their roots go down DEEP. They aren't afraid of winter seasons that look like death because they know HOPE. They aren't afraid of their true shape being exposed because in dropping their leaves, they let through more light. They lift their bare branches to the heavens in a posture of praise and worship, all the while digging down deeper and deeper so they can keep surviving as long as the drought may last. They are brave, bold and beautiful even in the barest state. At least to me.
I, too, am still in a winter-like season. I'm not doing any official serving or ministry or leading right now and haven't since we returned from Peru last year. For at least a few more months, I'm allowing God to continue to work on healing hearts and deepening roots, because it's not that kind of fruit-bearing time. Not yet, anyway. We trust with hope, just like the oak trees, that this is truly just a season and that fruit will be grown and shared once more. I hope that as I stand before God with the leaves down that more light will continue to shine and more work will be done where it's needed.
I can't help but compare this season of my heart to the seasons around me and find it intriguing how timely it is. I pass by peach, plum and nectarine orchards several times a week. Like the oak trees, they have stood bare through the winter and recently I have watched the farmers and workers out in the middle of the still bare-branched trees with pruning shears in their hands. It is the season for pruning and shaping. They are removing dead and unnecessary wood so that the best harvest will come a few calendar pages from now. The best time for pruning is now - before the leaves cloud the view. The blossoms are coming, too. Every day I am intently searching for glimpses of the tiny hope-bearers that are about to explode all around me. And they're starting to show up. More evidence of hope.
I will cling to hope, too. Whether it's because the skies inside feel grey or because the pruning shears in the hands of God sting when they expose and thin the dead attitudes and damaging lies that will keep me from bearing fruit in the future, I will hold on to hope. As sure as the oak trees and I are that spring will come, I am sure that someday again bareness will turn to bearing. Fruit and glory bearing will come in due time.
And in the meantime, I have HOPE. And much more. And that's enough.