I spent part of last week on a personal retreat spending leisurely time with the Lord, something I haven’t done for several years. Unlike past retreats, I went into it without much of a plan. (Those of you who know me know that’s a little unusual…smile.) As I was making the two-hour drive to spend 3 full days alone, I asked the Lord to meet me. I was desperate to encounter Him.
If you’ve been a regular reader here, you know that I’ve been going through some rough times. This time away was something Benny really wanted me to do, so I trusted that God was speaking through him. My devotional life hasn’t been as consistent as normal, and my times with the Lord have been characterized more by duty than delight. I was crying out to Him for refreshment…and rest.
While taking a leisurely walk on the beach (with my new sidekick…a camera) I decided to investigate an area with lush green vegetation just a few yards up toward the condo. The mid-atlantic beaches we frequented before moving to Florida didn’t have such beauty growing in the sand, and it continues to surprise me.
Carefully watching my steps to avoid another fall (you can read about that at my last post below) I came upon this pretty yellow flower. My immediate thought was, “How in the world can something so fragile and cheery be growing here in the hot sun and dry sand?” I wondered how it could be possible that the ocean winds — and even storms that certainly must bring water up to this point on the beach — wouldn’t kill it.
Then I glanced over and noticed several other similar flowers scattered nearby. And all of them looked perfectly healthy.
That’s when the Lord started speaking….
You see, I am that little flower. The dryness of recent months, along with winds of change that have blown through my life, have left me feeling in some ways like it must “feel.” Dry. Hot. Kinda lonely. Some physical challenges have taken their fatiguing toll as well.
I wasn’t looking for this little flower. I was drawn toward the vibrant green vegetation ahead. But I noticed it — just like God notices me. To Him, I’m not withered, languishing and left unnoticed as He tends to those who are thriving. Just like that little flower, with His help I’ve survived the wind and rain. And like it, too, I’ve actually been growing in a dry place.
These thoughts rushed through my brain and heart with a combination of gentleness and clarity I can’t explain. The Lord was saying: “I have been with you. I have been tenderly caring for you. You thought the dryness was starving you and you wanted out. But it was just what you needed in this season. Some flowers only grow in this environment and that’s what I’ve been doing. Growing something beautiful.”
Ugh. Tears are coming even as I type.
Have you, too, been in a spiritually dry season? Maybe you’re one of those flowers that has been growing nearby me. If so, I hope the things I’ll be sharing over the coming weeks will remind you that God sees you, too. And He is doing something really beautiful in your life because He never wastes anything.
I pray that you, too, will “happen” upon beauty on display in your hot, dry life. The wonderful thing is, you don’t even have to be looking for it. Sometimes God just surprises you along the way.