Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the LORD has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; For the open pastures are springing up, And the tree bears its fruit; The fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the LORD your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you--The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God And there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame" (Joel 2:21-27)
My parent's home flooded during Hurricane Katrina. That was back in September 2005. This weekend, they were ready to start planting a garden along the front of the house. It's been 2 and a half years. In that time the house was gutted, remodeled, raised and leveled, refurbished, stuccoed, re-stuccoed, re-leveled and new front steps built with columns and railings. So now, it's time to tend to the pretty details. Before we could plant pretty things, though, we needed to prepare an area for planting. As mom stomped out an outline for the garden and began popping up layers of grass, she found roots...and rocks...and bits of concrete leftovers from the raising...and trash. It was a mess! In the end, she had to buy new soil to pour over the existing stuff that was infused with grass and hurricane debris and reconstruction trash. Even after all of that, the garden requires quite a bit of imagination. If you tilt your head to the side, squint one eye and imagine it all grown and filled in 6 months down the road, it looks beautiful! But now...not so much.
Why is this significant? Well, it's Day 15 of this new repenting of gluttony bible study. Two weeks down. Time for weigh in. I gained 3 pounds. Enter discouragement.
The main premise of the course is that gluttony, not food, is the problem. That is contrary to what most other diet plans will tell you. Every other plan I've been on has been all about the food...the right types of food...exactly measured...in the correct combinations...and even avoiding certain types of food alltogether. This plan says "eat of the goodness of God's provision, but in moderation." For the past 4 years, I've avoided white things: sugar, pasta, flour, potatoes, and I have to confess that re-introducing those things had me concerned.
My weigh-in didn't help things.
I walked away from the scale with questions and fears. I mean, I knew this was going to happen right? I can't just eat anything! My body's not used to it. But still, I'm going hungry AND exercising. I'm fasting (of sorts) 3 days a week! 3 pounds?!?! Seriously?
I took those to the Lord and begged for strong consolation and confirmation that I was pursuing His will with this plan. I know that if I know He is in this and has gone before me, I can deal with going hungry and not losing weight. But I NEED to know this is His will.
Then, on my walk this morning he brough to mind the passage from Joel referenced above and my adventures in gardening this weekend. He showed me that sanctification is much like gardening. It would have been unrealistic of my mom and I to think that we could have a beautiful, luxuriant garden in one afternoon. That ground had been neglected and trashed for almost 3 years and needed some serious work before we could expect to get anything from it. The old grass and trash and earth needed to be cleared away, new soil needed to be put down and then the plants or seeds needed a consistant course of fertilizer, water and exposure to the sun before we would see growth and beauty.
And so it is with this, He said to me. This is the clearing away stage. It is hard. It isn't fun. It's messy and may look like I'm just piling up trash, but after a while, after good things are planted and I am nourished through His word and regular time in the light of His presence there will be fruit, restoration, satisfaction and praise.
In the meantime, I will praise Him now for His faithfulness to this messy pile of upturned earth which He still calls chosen, precious, loved.