Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Springtime All Year Round


Spring is my favorite time of year - I love the freshness of new life, the blossoms on our apple, peach, and plum trees, the birds singing, open windows, green grass, picnics. Three of our six children were born in May, and our tenth little grandbaby was born just a few weeks ago - a beautiful little baby girl! I love spring!

But even more wonderful than the season of spring ... 
is having a sense of springtime in our hearts
that lasts all through the year. 

A sense of freshness and closeness in our relationship with God, where we are very aware of His love and we are walking closely with Him. Where every day can feel fresh, like spring.

And how do we find this sense of springtime in our hearts?

A key word that comes to my mind, 
a word that we maybe struggle with at times,
but a word that brings lasting springtime, 
a word with deep, limitless meaning:
surrender

Surrender - a word that I keep learning more about. And recently God has been adding some more layers of understanding about this word. I think it is key to experiencing "springtime" in our relationship with God.

When my husband and I were at a SV Leadership Conference in Florida in early February, one of the speakers shared something that I have been thinking about a lot since then. And I'm thankful for this added dimension to the understanding of the word "surrender".

Living a life of deep purpose and meaning, a life surrendered to God, is living -

"a life that makes known to others the faithfulness of God."

It's so easy to think that we are here for our own agenda. But suppose (and it is true) that our Creator crafted us for the specific purpose of enjoying us, and of showing His love and faithfulness to a needy world. That our temperaments, personalities, and yes, even our weaknesses are all designed to show His strength and glory through, showing who He really is to those around us. And that those things in us that we wish would just go away, are with us to cause us to run to God - continually - as they are the very things that make us aware of how much we need Him.

Just as a small seed contains all the details of what it's Creator crafted it to be - such as a flower seed, or a watermelon seed, or a cucumber seed - so, each of us is designed to bring glory to God, each of us in our own unique ways.

How often we are discontented with how we are made, wishing that we were different. When all along, these things are exactly what draw us to God, as we realize how desperate we are for Him.

And how often we resist troubles, and even become angry at God for allowing them in our lives, thinking that He has forgotten about us, or failed us, or is getting even with us for something we have done. When, in fact, these troubles are exactly the situations He allows, to draw us closer to Him. And we then are drawn into more fully experiencing the deepest of relationships possible - a close relationship with our Maker.

Surrendering - to how He has crafted us, 
and embracing all that He allows into our lives.

I think that when I was first married, and then had several young children at home - that I thought I knew what our life should look like. My picture of a successful life was a life void of problems and troubles. I thought I knew how God would be glorified most - perfect family, no trials, etc.

It was like taking the seed of life that God has given us, and guarding it selfishly ... like putting this seed up on a shelf to admire. That is how we live at times - like a seed on a shelf. Missing the beauty that will result by releasing the seed to the soil.

How wrong I was - and instead of things going perfectly, we have experienced a fair share of troubles: very difficult years when one of our daughters was a teen; while another one was in college; a very close call with another daughter - a mis-diagnosis, and catching appendicitis just in time; a daughter who went through leukemia; and a bone marrow transplant a year later; a horrible accident my husband was in where we almost lost him and it was not known if he would walk again; walking with a daughter through infertility; and then feeling her deep pain of losing a baby at 20 weeks of pregnancy; seasons when some of our grown children were/are not walking with God - and, we continue to go through trials today.

But I have learned, and continue to learn, that we need to surrender, to be willing to experience all that our Maker has in mind for us. Not to punish us or make us miserable. But for our good, to draw us close to His heart so that we can experience the deepest of love, and become what He crafted us to be.

A daily surrendering 
- and a daily thanking Him 
for everything that He allows.

Sharing a few of the many verses and quotes in my journal in recent weeks:

"I'm only seed. Small, hard, not of much use to anyone. 
Not without transformation. 
And first must come death. 
Isn't it funny that the God who calls us into light, 
Who bids us go and bear fruit, calls us first to this laying down? 
This carrying of a cross, this dying to oneself, this submission to the giving up?" 

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, 
consider it an opportunity for great joy."
(James 1:2)

"Make friends with the problems in your life - 
every problem can teach you something, 
transforming you little by little
 into the masterpiece I created you to be ...
 the best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them." 
(from Jesus Calling)

Author and blogger, Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, shares how she has gone through a lot of very difficult things in her childhood, especially, and how surrendering and accepting with gratitude all that God allows into our lives is the way to joy.

One Thousand Gifts beckons you to leave the parched ground 
of pride, fear, and white-knuckle control 
and abandon yourself to the God who overflows your cup." 
(from the back cover of One Thousand Gifts)

One little practice that helps me is to consciously thank God for a weakness, or a trial.  I journal a lot, and for me, it helps to actually write down my thanks for difficult things, even the smaller trials in daily living.  It's hard to do, and I usually struggle before I can do it, as it is not easy to surrender, and to give up "my way".  But this act of expressing thanks lifts me up above my circumstances. And fills me with joy.
"Always be joyful. 
Never stop praying. 
Be thankful in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 
(I Thess. 5:16-17)

And the result - we can experience springtime in our hearts! Not just when things are going perfectly. But even in the midst of trials and weaknesses.

Experiencing the freshness and the beauty of spring all year-round. And spreading that beauty to those around us, as they see God in our lives.

 Surrender to ... 
A life that makes known to others the faithfulness of God.



(Thanking God for springtime that lasts all year long - these thoughts are taken from a collection of notes in my journal over recent weeks/months, and shared at a recent Women's Dessert Night our church held.)


Linking up at Faith Filled Friday, Friday Favorite Things

And also linking up at Allume as my favorite post for the month.












4 comments:

  1. Some profoundly encouraging thoughts here. Thanks for sharing Cherry. Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

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    Replies
    1. Yes, so much to think on as we consider troubles to be opportunities for great joy. Continually learning ... thanks for your encouraging words!

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  2. Beautiful thoughts, Cherry! So blessed by your post.
    I'm striving...to not be a seed on a shelf. To make known the faithfulness of God.
    Thank you so much for ministering to me today!
    All for Him,
    Nikki

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  3. COming over from faith filled Fridays and really enjoyed reading your blog. You and I seem to be on similar journeys - I also love spring and have been pondering faithfulness and surrender. Have a blessed Easter!

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