God the Gardener

Hello there, people who read this blog! It’s been a while. Like, 6+ months.

Just a few things have happened since I last sat down to write:

  1. I went to Vietnam for 8 whole weeks and had the time of my life. I’ve been meaning to blog about my trip but, alas, there’s so much I could say. Maybe sometime in the near future I’ll organize some thoughts to jot down.
  2. About 2 weeks after I stepped back on US soil, Dellan proposed! AGAIN, I should definitely be posting about these big life events. Agh. But we are just dancing with excitement and can’t wait for our next chapter to start together. He’s been the best fiancé ever so far, obviously.
  3. I am back at ISU with a new major and a new job. So far I’ve loved taking HD FS classes and working at the Writing and Media Center on campus has been a rewarding experience.

Now that we’re caught up, friends, I’d love to share a little about what God has been teaching me this semester!

During the plane ride from Southeast Asia to Iowa, I watched so many movies. I drank probably 20 cups of ginger ale (love my dad; don’t always love his motion-sickness-prone genetic makeup). I cuddled up next to Laurel-bug and slept twisted my neck while attempting to doze off.

I also had quite a bit of time to consider how my experiences overseas could be threaded into my “normal” life back home. Last school year, I was in somewhat of a rut and did not feel Jesus’ closeness very strongly. God knew this, and whisked me away to Vietnam so I could fall in love with Christ all over again. My team and I spent one or two hours in the Word and in prayer every morning. We were the hands and feet of Christ wherever we went and got to participate in what God is doing on the other side of the world. The amount of sweet moments I shared with the Lord were innumerable. Our trip left my soul so full, yet I was terrified to return home to another uncomfortable season.

In my cramped plane seat, I thought, I’ll do the exact same things once I’m home. I’ll stay in the Word and keep praying and journaling. I’ll keep seeking ways to serve people well and share the love of Jesus.

Surely if I keep up this kind of lifestyle, God will still feel close enough to reach out and touch, and I won’t have to feel the way I did last fall.

However, I soon realized that my current season of life does not allow time for two hours of devotions in the morning, nor do I have the luxury of filling three pages of my journal each day with thoughts and praise. Even more importantly, God is ultimately in control of my life. I cannot manipulate him into doing what I’d prefer through good intentions; my desperate tries to keep up an “overseas lifestyle” have not guaranteed similar positive feelings as experienced this summer.

In his sovereignty and love, God has recently allowed me to feel strikingly far from him. And, yes, I’ve let bitterness take root and questioned his ways of caring for me. Sometimes I begin to journal or pray and have absolutely no words for my Father.

I’ve played Sarah Sparks’ The Gardener over and over during these weeks and wallowed in the beginning lyrics:

You tilled up my heart and then planted a seed
With time it watered and sprouted a dream
Granted me sight so I could see a need
But why let me see it to take it from me?
Why let me see it to take it from me?

In this sad hour at the end of each day
My fingers remember well how to point blame
So I look at the sky and again I will say
Why let me taste it to take it away?
Why let me taste it to take it away?

In short, I’ve felt cheated. Felt as though God allowed me to experience such closeness with him only to rip this deep communion away as soon as I returned home. “Why let me taste it to take it away?” has rung true and lonesome in my heart.

BUT, the rest of Sarah’s words tell of a God who produces sweet fruit through bitter trial. She sings of a lover who at times seems to back away from his beloved for the sake of deeper relationship. Nowhere does she mention intense fuzzy feelings of closeness as a prerequisite for God’s true presence and love.

But I know you better when I am in need
I know you better when I am in need

These months I’ve learned that God is not a feeling, a mountain-top experience, or a comfortable blanket to pull out whenever I’m overwhelmed. He’s the God of the universe. He created me and is my King, Savior, Judge, and so much more. He chooses each season of my life with an intelligent and purposeful love. He desires that I know him better. His correction of my sinful behavior is so loving. His care for the condition of each soul so evident. His control over this world so reassuring.

He’s shown me that when I reduce our relationship to solely comfort or it’s absence, I miss out on experiencing everything else he is. So I thank God for not letting me continue to view him and our relationship in such a small sense. And if going through more dry seasons is what it takes to increase my love for his perfect, wonderful character, then so be it, Lord.

How truly sweet it is to know him more.

God the gardener when the autumn comes, I will not seasons fear
With the pruning a branch is stronger, I will learn to love the shears

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