This morning’s walk was glorious…sun strong-arming its way upward through the low ceiling of heavy clouds…Let me through, let me through!
Our monsoon season has been showing off these past few weeks. The ground is saturated, the washes are flowing and the daily thunderstorms have become our evening entertainment. This is the first time, in several years, that we can actually begin to relax and enjoy the rains again because….
We had a monstrous fire in our area a few years ago, one that destroyed most of the trees and brush up on our mountains, and charred its way up to the very edge of our property, leaving the stucco on our house speckled with ash. Flooding became a real problem when the monsoon season hit on the heels of the fire. There was no longer much on the mountains to stem the rains and slow its descent into our neighborhoods. The floods drastically altered the dirt road that leads up to our house, gouging out a deep gorge that would fill up with debris during every rain storm. The water swirled around and seeped into several homes in our area, so people put sandbag walls around their homes – for protection.
This morning, one home still has sandbags up…just in case.
When I clipped the leash on our dog before my walk this morning, I thought about other catastrophes in our lives – the things that hurt us and gouge out deep wounds in our hearts.
The days of letting our pups run free on our walks, stopped one day when a rattlesnake killed our precious Yorkie – not during a walk, but on our patio, inside our walled backyard. The summers here are wonderful, but they are not without an “ugly” side. We live out in the country on four acres, that green up so beautifully after a few good showers. But the season also awakens the snakes. And so our walks are shadowed a bit now, because my eyes are always on the edges of the dirt road, ready to rein in our pooches should I spot anything slithering in the dirt or grass. I still enjoy the walks, but I’m more guarded. And I now put our dogs on leashes – for protection.
Once we’ve been hurt, whether it be through catastrophic fire and flooding, the loss of a beloved pet from a rattlesnake bite, or an even greater heartache – one that sends you reeling into the shadows and clinging to the cross – one thing is certain, our walk through this world is altered. We put up sandbags and clip on leashes – for protection, vowing we will never be that vulnerable again.
It is a reality of life lived here in, what C.S. Lewis aptly named, the Shadowlands.
But there is hope and joy to be found, even in the midst of our guardedness and striving for self-protection. It is a hope and joy rooted in a God who sees all, weeps with us, and promises to turn our ashes into beauty. I’ve seen Him do this, time and time again…and it propels me onward and gives me courage to be vulnerable again ~ to risk being wounded.
Abraham Kuyper said…
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”
We are His beloved and, blissful thought, He owns every square inch of our lives – our homes, our pooches, our children, our jobs, our loved ones – they all belong to Him. And He is not a harsh landlord. He is a good Lord, who speaks to us in our pain…
God redeems what is stolen. He restores what is broken.
It will never be the same again, and we may never even see the restoration this side of eternity, but we must never stop looking for it, and trusting the One who promises to make all things new.
This year, we are seeing no flooding at all. There is enough new growth on the mountains to keep the waters at bay and enable us to sit back and enjoy the rains more fully. God is restoring the landscape around here, and bringing a renewed relaxation and enjoyment of the monsoon season.
And God has blessed us with two “new” canine babies, who delight our hearts and amazingly awaken more joy, when we once swore we wouldn’t get another one because the pain of losing it was too great.
I’m learning to guard my heart differently now. Not so much against the pain, but against bitterness and hardness of heart. I ask God to give me a soft tender heart, one that trusts Him more readily. When I start to put up sandbags and clip on leashes, I ask God to help me let go, relax, trust Him with all I strive to protect.
It will be a lifelong struggle – those sandbags and leashes will always be near.
But HE is nearer still.
Oh Lord, help me to remember that.