Is that the best one can hope for in the barren place? Growth? Growth is painful – it hurts. My youngest had “growth spurts” that resulted in unbearable pain. He would awaken from the barrenness of deep slumber crying heart-wrenchingly as the growing pains disturbed his rest. We would rub his legs and arms wishing we could alleviate his pain but knowing we could only try to ease it. The growth chart on the wall would prove out the growth in a matter of weeks. What hurts him caused him to grow. God allows our hurt, eases it with His presence, knowing that what hurts us will grow us. But I don’t think growth is all that comes from painful barren places. I think that you can experience beauty in the barren places. I know I did – eventually.
It made me smile. But more than that it made me throw back my head and laugh the hearty, medicinal laugh of Proverbs 17:22. Those in the vehicles that passed by must have thought me daft because it happened, quite literally, on the side of a road on one of the bleakest, barren stretches I have ever encountered. At my feet and scattered over the barrenness all around me were cushions of beautiful and delicate pink flowers on beds of greenest green surrounded by rough stone as far as the eye could see. I threw back my head, looked into the heavens, declared “I get it, Lord” and I laughed. I mean REALLY laughed! Just before I aligned my camera on the beauty at my feet and snapped a self-portrait. No not a selfie! The camera was pointed the other way but I saw myself in that little patch of beauty. I was starting to bloom in my barren place. A beautiful thing was being awakened in my spirit and it took a barren place to bring it out. I would not have noticed those tiny, delicate flowers in a lush and colorful flower garden but there in the barren place as I looked around I saw splashes of beauty everywhere. I laughed until my eyes leaked – more tears – the good kind.
Carolyn Arends said it and I echo a resounding AMEN! “Laughter is a form of worship. A good laugh is a release – even if only for a moment – from worry, strife, and self. It is a sudden, often unbidden confession that someway, somehow, all is well, or at least there is hope that it can be.” My laughter that day on the barrens was the holiest form of worship I could render in that moment. I wonder if passersby recognized the God-moment in that unusual scene. No matter! I’ve appeared foolish to some for much less significant moments than that one. Days later when I gazed upon the printed copy of that photo and recalled that moment of release; that moment when God brought me back from the exile of my barren place I was reminded of Psalm 126. “When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the Lord has done for them.’ Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.”
Barren places are a beautiful thing when God resides there.
Are you in a barren place and growing?
See the beauty and remember…
“Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning.”Trust me; I know!
The day has dawned for me again.