When Jack and I were walking toward the beach today, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the ground. Springy-green shoots are poking up everywhere, a lovely sight after such a cold, snowy winter.
It’s a wonder how dead-looking patches of ground come alive right on schedule according to God’s dictate of the seasons. Some plants have to make their way through piles of soggy leaves that have blanketed them since last fall. Others actually wiggle their way out from under rocks or sidewalks.
But today we saw the ultimate in perseverance, two tender shoots making their way up through an unforgiving hunk of asphalt. Seeing such a display of wonder made me turn around and head home for the camera. I admired those little plants and hoped they would grow into lush day lilies with roots pulling nourishment from the soil beneath the asphalt.
We all know families who seem to be steamrolled by circumstances as rough as that asphalt over soft greenery. Some of these people give up in despair, but others never lose hope and make it through with determination and pluck.
But because determination and pluck are boot-strap resources that do have a limit, it’s best to garner our stick-to-it-tiveness from a source other than ourselves. God offers to supply whatever we need to wage war against negative circumstances.
A pertinent hymn we sang as kids went like this:
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving has only begun. (Annie Flint)
I love those words, because when we’re living in the first three lines (exhausted, failed, the end), suddenly the last line gives us a happy ending. Not only is God willing to pick up the slack for us, he’s just getting started. With him there’s always more. Such knowledge is enough to pull us back to our feet to go another round.
People who live like this, triumphing over struggles by taking advantage of God’s supply, are heartening to the rest of us, too. Although they aren’t usually aware we’re watching, we are. And we find ourselves saying, “If God did it for them, he’ll do it for me.”
This morning just before Jack and I left the asphalt-plants, I noticed something strange. The greenery appeared to have been given a haircut, the unmistakable calling card of a deer. These baby lilies lived through a harsh winter, made it up through hard asphalt, and now have endured being nibbled on.
It’ll be interesting to watch what happens next.
“In [the Lord’s] hand is the life of every living thing.” (Job 12:10a)