Monday, June 25, 2012

Give Me This Mountain

On my quest to becoming a passable gardener, I'd begun to routinely come across a suggestion for how to get a boatload of mulch.  It was advised that I contact tree removal services and ask if they would be willing to stop by my house after a job and give me the ground up trees.  After watching the wonderful Back To Eden video, I was convinced that this was the way to go.  However, seeing as we live way back in a cul-de-sac of an extensive neighborhood, we don't exactly fit the bill as a convenient drop-off spot.  We'd actually had some trees of our own cut down a few months back, before I knew enough to keep what we had and so we missed out big time.  You can believe I kicked myself over that one for quite a while.  I've been determined now to make some calls and see what I could accomplish.

Well, what should show up one morning last week but some handy-dandy fellas in bright orange ready to cut down a neighbor's tree and shred it into a zillion little pieces!  If you've never been out here to NC, when I say "a tree" I'm talking about a timber roughly four stories tall.  So I ran out and put a note under the windshield wiper blade of one of the trucks, politely requesting a truckload of their wood chips.  These gentlemen were quite happy to comply - and I was thrilled!  I looked at it and laughed, "Oh yeah... Yes, give me this mountain!"

The choice of words comes from a passage in the Bible.  Many will be familiar with the story of the twelve Israelites being sent in to spy out the land the Lord was going to give them.  Ten of them were scaredy-cat nay-sayers, but the other two (Joshua and Caleb) urged the people to go forward in faith.  It's quite a story, wonderfully told here.  Well, the forty years of desert wandering followed.  And then we come to the point where the people are all gearing up to give entry into this promised land another go.  Caleb is ready!  He recalls the Lord's promise to him, via Moses: 

"The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly."

Now he requests, "Give me this mountain promised to me that day...."

Well back to our little plot of land in NC... This was our third and final day for my kids to complete their annual standardized tests, so we went back inside and gathered around the dining room table.  They got settled in to start on their last section; I sat down to eat my lunch and check some e-mails in the quiet of test-taking time.  Opening one from a friend, I began reading.  My eyes dragged across words.  My bones turned to water and my stomach began quick, repetitive somersaults.  The trust we'd been building over the past nine months slowly toppled and fell in slow motion with a silent jolt and crash.  Outwardly, I cheerfully started the timer and took a bite of my sandwich, forcing a facade of normalcy to my voice and face.  

Life is like this.  One moment all is normal and right.  With the next phone call, knock on the door, conversation overheard, letter opened, turn taken, decision made - all can be undone and turned topsy-turvy.  We shake and tremble and try to get our bearings as the ground beneath our feet rolls.  And we know - we are not in control.

God is not like this.  He is eternally faithful and reliable, and this is no more important to us than when our own personal world begins to waver and wobble.  He is in control.

My appreciation for the timing of the deliverance of this pile of mulch in my driveway grew to new proportions.  I needed something big and major to occupy my children for a spell so that I could have some time to process and wrestle with this stomach twister.  They alternated shoveling up and rolling back wheelbarrows between the front and back of the house.  Inside, I went to the pages of deep prayer in Valley of Vision and was reminded that my cross is not to be compared to that of Christ's.  At length, I sent the kids inside in to make a simple salad and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner; and I began my own turn at the mountain.  I poured out my anger, feelings of betrayal, outrage, and hurt.  I turned bewildered eyes to Him, not understanding, but trying to.  I petitioned for help; I searched my soul; I returned with confessions; I asked for forgiveness; I returned once again seeking guidance. As I wheeled the shavings and splinters of wood and prayed aloud, I thankfully coined this providential provision "cross therapy."  As the sweat built up, my heart considered others I know who are carrying far greater crosses than my own, bearing serious, serious burdens as well.  This brought perspective to my troubles - not minimizing them, but serving to widen my scope of vision beyond the expanse of my own hardships.

I picked up a piece of the mammoth tree I was shoveling into my wheelbarrow and turned it over, feeling the rough harshness of it.  Not only are the crosses we bear nowhere near approaching the weight and measure of The Cross; they are, quite simply, a small part of His cross.  "My cross" is one of those wood chips, a recognized, fragmentary bit of the whole.

My words earlier in the day had been a somewhat joking reference to Caleb, from Judges 14.  He'd said these same words, referring to a relational promise that the Lord had made at an earlier time.  Caleb had wholly followed the Lord, his God; in response Moses told him, " The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly."  With the Lord's help, his goal was to take the victory for God's glory.  

May I have a faith to rival that of Caleb, for my own sake as well as that of my children, and for God's glory.  Pushing my wheelbarrow of  "mountain" forward, carrying my cross ... with the Lord's help.

Shared with Titus 2sdays

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