Monday, April 02, 2012

New Life

I love Spring.  I love how it brings with it the promise of new life.  Just a few weeks ago these beautiful buttercups announced Spring's arrival in our own front yard.  In our most barren corner.  I love that.  And I love how their hardy tenacity survives from year to year, weathering storms, winter, and little boys who like to dig.  Every time I see them bloom I am reminded of God's unrelenting grace, God's determination to bring beauty to the barren landscapes of our lives.

These blossoms particularly hold a special place in my heart.  They were planted several years ago by our neighbor Mr. Lonny.  It's been a little over two years since he passed away, unexpectedly, long before anyone was ready for him to.  By simply coming forth each year, our yellow flowers remind me death never has the last word.  Life continues, showing up when we least expect it.

I've struggled in the past week to remember that new life is always breaking open our normalcy.  Sometimes I get discouraged.  I forget that seasons are just as much a part of our personal existence as they are of nature.  When my heart is in the thick of winter, dormancy, and quiet slumber, it seems the world will continue in just that state forever.  In such a season, waiting is less about watching for the new thing and more like the eternity of being suspended mid-air, never knowing when gravity will actually start working again.  Actually this moment will seem like a split-second from the perspective of eternity.  But living in it feels endless. 

And so I have pondered the beauty of buttercups, even while my heart struggles with a season of undetermined boundaries.  I don't know how long I will have to wait for the new thing.  But my yellow companions remind me that new things are still HIS thing. 

These ponderings have been especially poignant the last couple of weeks.  Just a little over a week ago I "celebrated" the year anniversary of discovering the Bishop was ending my appointment at the Wesley Foundation.  I've spent the past year learning to let go, grieving the loss of a ministry family I loved dearly, and allowing my dreams to be reimagined.  Through it all God's mercy and grace have sustained me.  My spirit has found rest.  I have relished the time spent with my family.  God has been a Good Shepherd to me.  He has restored my soul, in ways that are beautiful.

On the anniversary of the announcement of my move, I was the co-leader of our church's ladies retreat.  The theme selected by our women's ministry team was "Time Out for Restoration."  It was wonderful to spend those two days engaged in the kind of ministry I love.  For those two days I felt like John Wesley when he said, "I set myself on fire, and people come to watch me burn."  It was an amazing weekend.  Honestly, it was not an opportunity I sought out.  It came seeking me.  Only God could have arranged it the way it all played out.  It was an amazing experience. 

In some ways its wonder scares me senseless.  There's nothing else on the horizon.  I left that weekend with words echoing along the walls of my heart, "Oh God, I've still got so much ministry left in me!"  A plea.  A prayer.  A heartfelt cry.  Oh Jesus, please don't let this be it.  

Yet I remember buttercups, the promise of new life springing forth when we least expect it.  The truth is that the Bishop ushered me into God's promise.  Since I was released from my appointment at the Wesley Foundation, I not only have a new life, I experience new life.  Let me explain.  On my fridgerator hangs a wooden cross.  On one side is written:  "I die to control fear worry uncertainty anxiety".  On the other are these words:  "So that I may live to hope peace joy love".   I wrote those words during a devotional I led for a Board of Directors meeting at the Wesley Foundation just a couple of months before I learned I was leaving.  Even though I was in a place of "security" (i.e. I had a full time job, benefits, etc.) I was a walking mess.  Control, fear, worry, uncertainty, and anxiety weighed on me every waking moment.  Yet in the year since then, even in learning to live with less, I have so much more hope, peace, joy, and love.  Even now in my aingst about the unknowns of our future, my heart is at rest.  I know God is good.  I know God will go with us wherever we go.

So I welcome Spring.  I welcome the new life God's goodness brings.  I welcome the possibility of being surprised when I least expect it.  I welcome new things.

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