People think nothing grows in barren places. They are wrong. You just have to look harder to see it. Brave little grasses and flowers often poke their way up through fissures in concrete, asphalt and yes even rocky crevices. I once saw a beautiful deep purple pansy in full bloom in the middle of an asphalt driveway - talk about a determination to grow! The crack was miniscule; the driveway was otherwise without life (barren) and the pansy was healthy. Things do grow in barren places. I know this in principle; have even experienced it a time or two or three but have never analyzed it the way I have now. In truth it is only in hindsight I see it. At the time it just hurt to poke my head up through the unforgiving hardness of the barren place.
There it was on the side of the most barren place we had encountered that day. We were scaling an incline of shale that was hard on the feet and the tender flesh of my palms as I slipped and slid my way to the summit of that day’s hiking trail choice. It was an ugly thing; gnarled and as grey as the landscape – mostly. We both spotted it at almost the same instance and reacted simultaneously, laughing as we did so. Then the inevitable picture followed and in it you can see what I mean. On the very ends – new growth – green and vibrant. I cried when I had finished chuckling. I looked at hubby and declared, “That’s me, isn’t it?” My barren place had been grey and bleak but I had grown. For a long time I could only see grey but then I began noticing the green.
I had deep strong roots. I know that now. Godly parents set me down in deep rich soil. They established me in the faith. They taught me how to nourish myself. Long heartfelt talks with “My Father” and long hours spent searching His Word. Corroborating with the most godly man I know; my husband spent hours helping me sort through a lot of emotional turmoil to find ways to best navigate the difficult days of my barren place. He was, and is, my “iron sharpening iron.” Tears cried (via telephone) on the shoulder of a good and godly friend; a life-giving watering that helped empty my heart of hurt and my tear ducts of their overflow. Thank you, Jacquie, for your unending patience in listening to the woes of my barren place. Every woman needs a friend like you. Little kindnesses from unexpected places were my sticky notes from Heaven. These were little patches of sunlight that pulled my head up through the fissures in my barren place. Buried under the dark weight of the barrenness not much happens but when you start to sense the light of day again you can’t help but strain toward it. Growth happens in barren places.
Daniel and his three Hebrew compadres encountered captivity in barren Babylonia. They had deep roots and they withstood the tests of a barren place. It got hot and vicious (furnaces, lions, you know) before it got over but these men grew strong in God and became men of renown and influence until even today the account of their barren place fuels my own determination.
Don’t curse your barren place.
God has a plan.
Let your roots do their work.
Nourish yourself in God.
Draw strength from godly companions.
See God in the little things that light the darkness.
Grow where you are.