Okay, so this isn’t my usual blog post, but I don’t have anything especially noteworthy to share, and I’m too excited about spring to not talk about it! So – here you go: my top reasons for why I’m so excited about spring being here!
Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people on it,
And spirit to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called You [Jesus] in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
And new things I declare;
Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
So…originally, this post was going to be about springtime. What with all the glorious weather we’ve been having (until today, that is, as it snows like crazy!) and with Easter just a few weeks off, it seemed to be the perfect idea for a blog. But as I searched Scripture this morning for some applicable verses, my focus turned to something else….
Not exactly a “springy” thought, is it? But there’s a message here which I believe is worth sharing.
The passage that triggered this subject is Joel 2:21-23:
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.
Now, granted, this passage is referring to Israel and, I believe, a specific time period. But doesn’t the message still ring true for us? Doesn’t our Lord still do marvelous things in creation? Doesn’t He provide feed for the animals and rains for the crops? The last few weeks, He certainly has been! The sun shining and rain dripping…tendrils of grass poking their heads through the earth…gardens being planted…my sister’s flowers edging out of dormancy. It all radiates with His glorious providence.
It’s curious how the prophet writes, “Do not be afraid” to the animals because, when you consider it, the animals aren’t the ones who worry. We are! When snow or rain is scarce, our rumors spread about a summer drought. We worry and fret about wildfires, hay prices, and poor crops. But what about the wild animals, like deer and elk, who depend on native forage for their sustenance? They don’t stress about a drought when it comes; instead, they take what is given to them and then, oftentimes, move on when they’ve exhausted their resources because they recognize that there must be new, fresh food somewhere else.
Animals are pretty smart, and I believe we can learn a lesson from them about dealing with the “droughts” in our own lives.
Sometimes life — or a certain portion of it — seems stale or flat. We’re stuck in a rut and can’t go anywhere. Maybe we can’t find work, or the job we have is far too constraining. Perhaps we’ve realized that the degree we’re pursuing in college isn’t an area in which we want to spend the rest of our lif. Or maybe we’re in a spiritual drought, where we feel distant from God, as if our faith is cold and ritualistic. When these droughts enter our lives, we behave like typical human beings, either ignoring what’s happening or fretting and agonizing over all the “what if’s” that could possibly happen.
But in all our concern and anxiety, we miss the point.
God allows droughts to occur in our lives to show us that He has something more for us…something we’re blindly missing. Accepting a different job. Switching majors. Moving to a new town or college. Identifying weak spots in our relationship with Him as well as ways to “draw near” to Him. Droughts aren’t just another burden of life to bear. They have a purpose.
Two, in fact.
The first is that droughts teach us to rely on and listen to God. When faced with a physical drought, the poor animals can’t do much to make it rain…nothing really. So they follow their instinct and and their noses to the nearest moisture and green grass. We can do the same. Instead of trusting our “instinct” and sense of smell, we can trust the urging of the Holy Spirit and also “sniff out” God’s will for our lives by reading the Bible and earnestly praying. The more we learn to rely on God for His guidance and provision, the better we will understand His will for our lives. As we endure droughts not on our own strength, but on His, our relationship with God will bloom and blossom like the well-nurtured, over-productive zucchini plants in my mom’s garden at home.
The second purpose is that, through droughts, God will lead us to green pasture. After all, that’s where the deer travel. They don’t wander out into a desert or back to the field which they cleaned up the night before. They head somewhere where the grass is green and nutritious, scarce though it may be. And that’s exactly what God does for us. He has somewhere new He wants to lead us, or something new to teach us. God has a fabulous future in store for each of us and He refuses to let any of His children settle for second best.
And so, with a drought, God drives us out of Ordinary and into the Unknown.
He doesn’t promise to make it easy, simple, or a bed of roses once we get there; most of us have seen pictures of drought-driven animals, skinny and footsore. But God does promise that, in the long run, the journey will be worth all the weariness and bumps and bruises. Because, in the end, our destination is far better than where we have been, and it’s one step closer to where God wants us to be.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58: 11
“There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.”
Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz”
I’m home for spring break and I’m treasuring every minute of it. I was so excited to be able to attend church with my family this morning instead of having to head back to Dillon! Plus there’s all of the other “usual” home things that I miss so much when I’m at college. Feeding goats and horses. Talking to my critters. Curling up on the couch in front of the fire. Eating homemade pizza. Saying “good morning” to my mom as soon as I get up in the morning. Eating my dad’s tzatziki. Talking with my sister about college opportunities and where we want to travel in the future. Sleeping in my own bed. Drinking goat milk. The list goes on and on.
I’ll admit that I’m very much a “Dorothy” who just wants to be home. I’m a bit of a hermit (to the annoyance of some of the RA’s on campus) and I like just spending time with my family. I am so thankful for the schedule at Dillon that allows me to come home once a month. I think I’d be desperately homesick otherwise…I get homesick enough as it is!
And yet, God has fantastic ways of helping me find a new “home” in Dillon. He has blessed me in some incredible ways which, since I haven’t mentioned any before, I’ll talk about in this blog post.
The first blessing was Prairie Bible Church. It’s only a fifteen minute walk from campus in a nice neighborhood, and it reminds me so much of my home church. Most of the people are elderly although there are a few kids my age. When I attended the church for the first time, I was shocked by how welcoming the church members were, and they are still just as loving, caring, and warm-hearted as they were then. Most importantly, the pastor preaches the true Word, and he does it in a down-to-earth style that is easy to understand and follow. I look forward to going to church every Sunday morning to hear a sermon, sing praises, see smiling faces, and fellowship with others in an area where the presence of God is clearly felt.
Another blessing is the physical setting of the Dillon community. The town squats in a valley surrounded by low-lying mountains. I can’t see the mountains from my dorm window, but there’s one road I take for walks that leads out of town and up a hill a ways. I’m typically lost in my own thoughts for the first half of the journey, but when I turn around there to head back, I am awed by the mountains rising in all their glory beyond the city. The wind sweeps through the pasture to my left, bringing with it the sweet scents of hay and grass. On my right, fat beef cattle with blinking brown eyes watch as I pass. The wind can have a sharp nip that burns my cheeks and nose, but the cold is well-worth its tingly freshness that seems to wash away so much of my sadness, weariness, or frustration.
Having been raised on ranches and farms most of my life, I am also an animal girl. I love my critters — my goats, my horses, my rabbit, my cat, our dogs, our chickens…. Unfortunately, in the dorms, all I can have is fish, so my bed supports five or six stuffed animals and my walls pasture several calendar cut-out horses. But cuddly toys and brilliant pictures can only go so far. And that’s where God has brought a truly fantastic blessing into my life…He has given me animals. An elderly couple from my church allow me to come ride their horses as often as I like. They own an older Arab mare named Dawn who is an absolute sweetheart and a young Quarter Horse mare called Happy, who certainly challenges my riding abilities but is a joy to ride. Some days, when the sun is bursting over head and my heart is soaring and I can hardly keep from skipping, laughing, and running everywhere I go, the foremost thing on my mind is, “It’s the perfect day for a ride.” And now, if I can spare the time, that’s exactly what I do. And there are few things are wonderful and freeing as riding. (But that’s another blog post.)
Horses aren’t the only animals now in my Dillon life. For my class last block, I was assigned ten hours of community service, most of which I chose to serve at the humane society. I hadn’t realized what a relief and joy that could be. Scrubbing puppy pens and cleaning litter boxes may not be the most enjoyable jobs, but the animals are worth it. The best rewards are brushing cats (who want to sit on your shoulder and chew on your shoes and rub all over you) and walking dogs (or being walked by a dog; it depends on which dog and how you look at it). There’s one dog in particular who is my especial favorite — Gabe, a heeler/boxer who acts just like Lukie at home. He’s an absolute love and walks pretty well — once you run the steam out of him.
A home is any place where you are welcomed, where you feel comfortable, where you find purpose, where you are loved, where God is present. I wonder if somebody without a “home” has any incentive, desire, or strength to live. For me, my most important earthly home is in the Bull Mountains of Montana. But since I have to spend eight months out of the year in Dillon, God has done wonders to make that place my new “home away from home.” His blessings never cease to amaze me. I am so thankful for a church family to fellowship with, mountain scenery to admire, and critters to love.