How to grow deep in transition

Transition is an unusual and challenging time.

In child birth, “transition” is a time of intense focus. Past comforts long gone; there is simply ‘here and now’ with (hopefully) the encouragement of others to carry you through.

The old has passed away.

The new is yet to come, with all its… all its… well, all its newness.

In this season, some may seem intensely judgemental, even harsh in their critique. Motives assigned; unfounded in Truth, yet views held tight all the same. Views, I add, grounded mostly in personal insecurity.

Transition can be a time when critics hit out. Words spoken behind backs of intended targets, causing sadness and pain when uncovered. Mutterings and actions have the power to curse. Christians rarely grasp the power held in their tongue. Or perhaps they do. Regardless, they take aim anyway.

Then there are people who fill us with a sense of love and wonder at their kindness. The ones that run by our side, even though we grow weary. You know not what to say anymore. They remain to encourage anyway.

Years ago, in a different time of transition, it was wildly windy as I drove out of a shopping centre carpark. As I drove, I noticed a tree, supported tightly on either side by wooden stakes. The tree was not free to move. Firmly secured by well-meaning council workers, it had no means of standing on its own. The wind was fierce, so you would think such tightly held binds would keep the little tree stable. You would think the tree had grown well with such support. Instead, both stakes and tree blew horizontally in the violent winds. The root system was non-existent because of the extreme confines of days gone before. Diligent protection afforded the tree had left it inept and incapable of standing alone. In its fall, it took the stakes with it. The entire system, well meant, had failed.

My gaze shifted.

Other trees, also staked, blown by the same wind, were free to move within the confines of looser supports tied to their stakes. These trees were being badly buffeted; however, tethered more loosely, they could remain connected to the strong wooden stakes. There was room for them to rock, yet there was support. They were not so tightly bound they created a fall for all. The gently staked trees bent in the forces, but could stand back upright once the winds subsided.

Being a gardener, I knew those trees free to sway in the winds, had developed the resiliency and depth of root system that allowed them to stand in the forces they now faced. However, I also knew that in such fierce winds they still benefitted from the supports provided by the strong stakes by their sides. In time they would standalone.

I also knew those trees had much stronger root systems than their external growth showed. I knew they would continue to stand in the storms of time. Because they had the strength of the stakes by their sides as they grew, they had stood in times of extreme winds, and because they had not stood alone, they had depths of strength yet unseen. This gave them the greatest chance of longevity. Their root structures, and strength to stand, meant in drought and flood they would be firm. They had not stood alone; neither had they insisted on being held up completely reliant.

Had the council planted either tree without a stake, they would have had no chance of either external growth or hidden root growth. They would have struggled and fallen either way.

It made me think of how, when the winds of change buffet us.

We don’t need people to fall over with us, or to climb in our pit when we fall. For if our supports bend with us too far, we all fall together.

Indeed, we need those that stand by us; ones who will give support while allowing freedom to move in the wind. It is those trees, being buffeted, yet supported in the winds, that grow strong and tall. As they grow they develop a canopy, which joins with others that create a network of support for all the ecosystem that coexists around.

The recent storms and winds that thrashed Melbourne last week have caused me to ponder these things again and again. There are thoughts and whispers of movement on the winds of change that suggest more to come. We need those that have been growing deep, growing strong. We need those who have grown positioned to drink deep of the waters that flow, which will allow them to grow tall into the trees, God has called them to be.

The current storm we all walk through is much like the extreme storms Melbourne has had to endure.

After our storms, fallen trees were everywhere to be seen. Most had little to no root system. These trees had clearly received much shallow watering for quick, superficial growth. In the test of time, they fell, having grown too fast for the depth of root systems below.

There is an urgent need to grow deep. Many have grown hidden, positioned with supports by their side, reaching into the depths of God. They have no perceivable growth, but there is a depth to them only the discerning can see. They hope to be ready for the structures to come.

In transitional times, it is critical to know God’s love and acceptance. In these times, He will bring others by your side to remind you of your worth.

So hold to the encouragement of the past, for it is essential to gird oneself for the race that will come.

And hold to the encouragement that comes in this season, especially from those we see by our sides, holding us fast.

In the transitional time of waiting, when the old has passed away, and the new is yet to come, we cannot overestimate the importance of standing with others by our sides.

Community is ever more increasing in its importance, so find those that will stand by your side and cause you to grow.

Seek the ones who will stand firm, like the stakes that stood by the sides of the second tree I saw in the winds. These stand firm in the Truths, and refuse to fall. These will give you the room to be you, to be strengthened, yet buffeted about. Their strength and grace is in their ability to stand firm in their faith, regardless of circumstances. Ones whose bonds allow you to shift and to move to find your feet, yet hold you steady enough until you are ready to grow tall into the tree you are.

We all need those that will stand by our sides and see us for who we are…

There are tethers that bind, and then there are tethers that cause growth.

 

 

 

Those that cause growth will stand by your side and say:

‘Stand! Grow deep! Now run!’

They will see that though you are the smallest of all seeds, yet when you grow, you will be the largest of garden plants and you will become a tree that the birds may come and perch in its branches (Matt 13:32) because…

God is Good!

Stop, shop and release Hope … God is Good!

My last two posts have been about obedience to God in a place of rest rather than striving.

This story occurred last week as I went about my day.  Toilet paper, meat, vegetables, fruit, pasta, rice had flown off the shelves, and our supermarket shelves were bare.

I had just dropped my daughter to her ballet training when a ballet teacher Miss A ran up to the car to apologise for opening the studio late. I smiled and said not to worry. I was keen to get to the plant nursery (a job I had planned for over a week).  However, rather than being able to wave a cheery ‘goodbye’ and speed off I saw that she looked distressed.

I had to stop and slow down for the one.

Miss A started to pour her heart out about her fears.  She feared her loss of income, how she had not been able to buy anything at the supermarket (where she had been and run late that morning), how she was running low in toilet paper, and food, and she had so many to feed at home, including two growing teenagers training at an elite level in ballet.  She then said how worried she was for her 14-year-old daughter who had cried with fright, how her son’s training was being interrupted, and how all the overseas scholarship training and performing opportunities had dried up due to the virus.

I looked at her distressed face, stopped, remembering we were to bring ‘Hope” to the world. I recalled that I was born for such a time as this (even though I felt just as useless) and I spoke out the good, how blessed she was that she could continue to train her beautiful children, how I had been praying for the studio, for the staff, that it would be ok, that we would all be ok, that maybe we could do some distance training online … (gently, gently I dropped that last idea in since it was as yet unformed in my heart – it would not be until the following day that God confirmed this to be a suggestion).

I really didn’t have any answers for her and felt a bit useless; however, as I drove off, I prayed, and as I did I felt my morning gently being rearranged by an invisible but very present Fatherly hand.

I was to go back to my home suburb. This made no sense to me, but I listened and as I drove I felt to go to my local greengrocer/mini market.

“Ok God I will, what have I got to lose if I’m wrong, and then I’ll head to the nursery.”

Gardening is my thing and with enforced home time looming, and a birthday gift voucher burning a hole in my pocket, I wanted to get to my purchase before shops shut. I never did get to the nursery that day …

I walked into the local shop, and to my surprise there was loads of everything – there was an abundance of food … fresh chicken, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice everything she said she needed but could find …

As I wandered and bought a few things for our home (chicken and sweet potatoes and potatoes) I felt a nudge to text the teacher.  I was a little reluctant – I just don’t like looking too keen if you know what I mean, but on the nudge I texted, and then rang, leaving a message.

She rang back quickly and I explained there was plenty of food – what did she want?

She said she would go later, to which I replied, “no, I will do the shopping for you to be sure you have what you need.”

In a nutshell, I got a shopping list from her and I loaded my trolley with her shopping needs chicken, wraps, corn, sweet potatoes, brown rice, potatoes, leek, vegetable stock … the list went on.

At the end of the call she breathlessly said: “I told LS (her daughter) that people’s kindness would shine through and we would be ok.”

I agreed, we would be ok … and I agreed that her daughter would see people’s kindness shine through this time, even though she had been so frightened by the bare shelves she had seen that morning.

Now, while I would like to take credit for this all, I must say, it was not me … I just did the shopping!

Had God not told me to go to this particular shop, I would not have done so.  Had I not gone, I would not have then felt the nudge to text/call her when I was surrounded by all the abundance. Had I not stopped to listen to her heart felt fears and needs, I would not have known she had those needs. To be honest, as I walked around the shop I felt absolutely moral bound to call her, now I knew her need, to let her know there was so much food.  I had to be sure she would be ok.

It was SO like My Father, to lead me to abundance in a seemingly barren place.

I was blessed, because I was able to purchase for my home, but as I did I could also do His shopping for the one that was on His heart. Both Miss A and I were blessed.

In a nut shell, I bundled the items up, and dropped them to the studio when I collected my daughter. Miss A’s teenagers would have enough protein to keep dancing and the family would have some fresh food for at least the next few days.

After this I knew to step back again. To have kept shopping for her like that would have made her feel embarrassed. I obey, and wait for the next nudge. It is in this way God releases (albeit through a pretty broken vessel by now) His goodness.

She knew I had been praying for them all.

Her needs were met for the day, and I continue to pray for her and all the studio staff in the days to come, purely and simply because …

God is so very Good!

Please – if you have a story of stopping and serving in this time of challenge, big or small, share it below, or message me so I can share it because it glorifies God to have His goodness shared, and in the testimony is the power to call upon His name to “do it again Lord.” If we all just stop for the one as we go, global wide, people will taste and see that God is Good!

 

Prayer, peace and plugging in … God is Good!

A friend received some shocking news recently.  Her ex husband, who had been imprisoned for some serious crimes against her, was released without her knowledge a year or 2 before he was due to be released.  The history was nasty and not something I will cover here, suffice to say, when she received the news she went into serious shock at the news.

This girl became a friend through an activity that our children shared a few years ago.  She had been a person I had felt to stop and pray for about 3 years ago, as I went about my day.  God had shown up powerfully for her in the foyer of this place, and after the encounter with a loving God she sought me out and asked if she could come to my home to be prayed for again.  I agreed, and so a pattern was established that she would seek me out for prayer, especially when she was struggling.  She got a taste of a good God, and she wanted more …

Over the years we have prayed about her work, her children, her future, her fears and her hopes.  Healing has come for her, and she has seen God come through for her and her girls time and again … maybe not in her timing … but always His timing has been … perfect!

Each time we prayed God has encouraged her, loved her and wooed her closer.  She would visit my home for about an hour, and she would leave at peace and empowered with a “now word” from God to give her a future and a hope, all the while I encouraged her to read particular scriptures, to seek God’s face for herself, knowing that she also had direct access, that I was not the answer, just merely a messenger, a teacher and a sign post to Him.

By her second or third visit she gave her heart to Jesus and she had started to seek His face for herself in her life.  Our paths continued to cross, but with less regularity, yet she would continue to seek out prayer when she was struggling.  A text would come, I would make time and she would visit.  I knew some, but not all of her back story, so it was with sadness that I received her text recently telling me of her ex husband’s release.  When I read it my heart sank … I felt so strongly for her and her girls and the fear they must have been experiencing …

In response to her text I instantly prayed – feeling quite useless knowing that I couldn’t fix this one … this one was well beyond me … it was beyond her … it was basically well beyond anyone … but God!

I felt an anointing flow as I drove and prayed. I hoped, I trusted, that she would feel God with her, she needed His tangible presence at this time … and when I got home I texted to let her know I had been praying peace for her and her girls …

I saw her later that week.  She wanted and needed more prayer, in person, and she needed a cuddle, and so my husband and I made time.  We stopped in our busyness to be with her, to give her a word of encouragement, including the word “plugged in”.  We knew it was time for her to connect … not just with us, not just with God … but into a body that could care, pray and walk with her through this time …

She said that she hadn’t known what to do when she got the news.  She was paralyzed with fear and shock. She just knew to text for prayer, and so she did … and the peace came not long after.  I couldn’t call her or text her at the time, but as soon as I saw the text I started to pray knowing the stress she would have been experiencing. She knew I would pray and she told me she felt a flow of serene peace … a peace that she just could not explain … and she knew the text had got through and been responded to … she knew I was praying for her, she knew God was there for her to hang onto.  She had said at the time that the peace was amazing, but she also felt comfort that there was someone who cared enough to be available to text and to pray …

She continues the journey.  It has not been an easy few weeks, but she has now taken the next step to get “plugged in” … she is plugging in deeper with God and she is getting plugged into a local Christian community with our family (oh the blessing of a local church!).  I believe that it will be in that community (rather than it just being me and God) that healing will come.  I am trusting and hoping that community will form around her to walk with her and her girls, and that she will continue to heal, and learn how to walk knowing that God will protect her because …

God is Good!