There was a time when I believed, much like Peter, that I would never let God down. I will love him more than anyone, I will give up anything and even die for him, I will…you fill in the blank. Yet just like Peter, this time of testing brought me to the dark, lonely and painful valley of unbelief and doubt. How could someone who trusted so much, believed so much, knew so much, understood so much and have great faith- fail God so much? I felt just like Peter did after the rooster crowed the third time and looked into the eyes of Jesus. It’s an awful, painful, shameful and humbling experience. It breaks you like nothing else can.
But there is hope! Just like Jesus restored Peter, I know he is restoring me. He will take some of the broken pieces and with it create something completely new and beautiful. He taught me that lesson with a plant I have had for 20 years. It looked like it died over the summer. Though there were still some branches on it that appeared to have life, I just left it there. I could not bring myself to water it in hopes of reviving it. Actually part of me wanted it to die. I felt like that plant. I was dying inside and to self (but not quickly - I am a little bit stubborn to put it nicely.) Finally my mom told me to throw out that dead plant. Something inside me compelled me to save my plant and I could not let her discard it like a piece of garbage. It was my plant and I loved it. I told her that I thought God was using the plant to teach me a lesson, though at the time, I was not quite sure what it was. That day I finally had the courage to take some of the branches from the plant and place them in a bowl of water. “Let’s see if life can come after death. What are you trying to teach me, Lord?” I said to myself. Today those almost dead branches are thriving and the plant is growing beautifully. It is part of the old plant but not the same; it is a new plant. What would have been discarded as dead, useless and ugly by most turned into a beautiful, useful and living thing by the loving hands of one. Do you see it? Does it fill you with hope? Anticipation? Excitement? God is the loving hand that will restore what is killed, destroyed, abandoned, abused, neglected and affected by our sin, the sin of others and the circumstances of life. He will take the broken pieces in our lives and make something completely new. Ken Gire says it best:
“When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops down to pick up the pieces. But he doesn’t put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead, he sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project – a mosaic that tells the story of redemption”.
This quote found me during bible study a few weeks after I began my “plant project”. How sweet of my God to have me see a visual of what he is doing in my life. As a visual learner, his patience with me in teaching me this astounds me! I finally have the faith to once again believe he is who he says he is, that he loves me, that he is by my side and that he will keep his promises to me. He has sifted through the rubble in my life and began a new project – like he had me do with the plant.
Another important lesson I learned during my darkest hours is the importance of Being Real. In my experience, I feel that the emotions, doubts and reactions we face during our greatest struggles are rarely shared when they are negative. You hear "God is good" and "God is faithful" but you rarely, if ever, hear "I am having a real hard time believing God is good right now" or "I know God says he will never forsake me but right now I feel he has left me. Was he ever with me?" In sharing these songs with you I will be real. I will share with you moments of mountain moving faith but also my greatest moments of despair, pain sorrow and brokenness. My prayer is that through these songs and the stories that birthed them you will be blessed, healed, restored, encouraged and/or brought to a deeper and richer relationship with your Lord and Savior. God truly is who he says he is and his word is truth. Though every moment seemed eternal what I am reaping from those experiences is invaluable. If those dreadful moments are the only way to experience His mercy, grace, love and faithfulness in a life altering way, then it is surely worth it. Don't give up He promises things greater than anything we can possibly hope, think or even imagine. He is that Great and that Good!
It's Going To Rain