I love beautiful flowers. Gardens are at their best when they are maintained. We have a plant in my garden called Virginia creeper, a tenacious weed that wraps itself around the stems of my flowers. If we don’t get rid of it when it is small, it can destroy all the flowers as it winds its way through an entire garden. When I am attentive to my garden, I pull the weeds when they are very small. A garden truth: small weeds have small roots. They are much easier to pull when they are small. Unattended weeds may grow roots deep and wide in the garden or in our lives. Sooner is better than later.
When I can, I want to be rid of the issues, the unforgiveness, and the sins that hinder me from a vibrant walk with God. In His perfect time, God shows me my trouble spots—gossip, jealousy, stretching the truth, and a hard heart. When God shows me these weeds, I know that they need to go. Fortunately, they usually come to my attention one at a time. When I see them, I know that now is the time to ask for forgiveness, face the sin problem, and move on with my life and the Lord.
Harvest in the Hard Times
“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance” (Psalm 65:11).
There is a surprising truth and great hope in these words. This psalm assures us that even hard times can produce a harvest in our lives. In every difficulty, He can bless us with His abundant love and provision.
In the Rocky Mountains, most plants don’t grow above the timberline. Recently, while hiking at 11,500 feet, I saw something surprising-several beautiful columbines were growing out of the rocks, where nothing else was growing.
I saw this as a picture of the “hard path that overflows with abundance.”
There is never a place or a challenge we will face where we will be alone, without the resources of God Almighty. The rocks and the columbines reminded me of life. The rocks all around the columbines were hard, and like us, the flowers were delicate, almost fragile. In the middle of the rocks and hard ground, they were in full bloom, reproducing seeds and new flowers. I sensed that God was telling me not to be frightened by the challenges or the rocks that surround me, but to focus on living a productive and fruitful life even in the middle of difficulties. Trust God!
This is exactly what I learned from my life: Trust God in the middle of every challenge and heartache. He knows all about it. We will all experience difficult paths. Some are short and others may last a lifetime. On the dark path, we can be encouraged that God walks ahead of us, He sees the trials we will face, and He will be with us.
Often when we are on the difficult path, we are more willing to ask for and listen to the guidance of God. He is faithful and will not abandon us; He is all-loving and all-knowing. Throughout Scripture He promises His help. “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you” (Psalm 51:15). Never will we be alone on a difficult path. At the loneliest, lowest, most desperate place, we can’t forget that God is always with us.
As I walk with God and trust Him, I have seen the abundant blessings on the hard paths. These blessings have been the peace that passes all understanding, the strength to stand and wait when I am in a spiritual battle, the ability to love and pray for people that I might not like, and the freedom of being forgiven and forgiving others. Through these challenges and others, the truth and reality of God’s help in hard places becomes more real. We experience the power of Christ when we walk the hard path.
Nothing is Wasted
God will use everything in our lives to help us grow and live productive lives. When it comes to God, nothing is wasted, even our hurt and our pain. I have also learned that there is nothing I have experienced that is so painful or deep that God isn’t with me and He can’t use it to strengthen me. Many of these answers and insights come after I have prayed, struggled, and released them to God.
Prayer is the beginning and the end of the difficult path. It helps us to trust God with our hard paths. Throughout history, we see people on difficult paths call out to God and watch as He supplies them with what they need for their journey.
So much of what we do when we pray is asking God for our needs.
Excerpted with permission from The Path of Life: Walking in the Loving Presence of God by Lisa Robertson, copyright 2019, all rights reserved by Emanate Books, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing.