I stood in the shower this morning, the welcoming spray of steamy water beating the sleep from my body. I was trying to pray, and honestly, I just felt like crying. The lump in my throat grew, with a heat behind it, like a torrent of tears lay on the other side just waiting to pour out. Mixed with my erupting emotion was a strange sense of gratitude, resting below the surface, as it always did, that morsel of truth that kept my compass pointing north.
I was not alone.
My mind pondered the scripture I had read just before bed, the one I had prayed for as a sought guidance before drifting off to sleep. Like life, the verse had held a two-part truth, one certainly easier to swallow than the other, but I also knew they often worked together. It was easy to forget that.
Thank you for the reminder.
I remembered something I had said to my husband last week. Awash with melancholy that day, again I had sought the wisdom of the Lord, and faithfully He had whispered His truth. I had repeated it to my husband.
“You know,” I had said, “we couldn’t be where we are today if all of this had not happened.”
He agreed. Being back in our hometown had stirred bad memories. Walking the empty halls of our old house had brought a wide range of feelings; happiness, yes, but also a sadness to let go. You walk tall with a big smile, and it’s not necessarily just innocent optimism. I think there’s some pride in there too. No one wants to talk about the battles they lose, or the time they had to wave their white flag of surrender, but there it is, underneath it all, trying to keep you down in the trenches.
It had begun the downward, financial spiral almost two years ago, I realized. We started off by selling our big ticket items that we could get along without. We didn’t have a yacht or sports cars, but we lived life comfortably. So when my husband’s business began to go under, we made it work. Ahh, the plans of mankind and whatnot. We sold the children’s outdoor jungle gym, the second shed, a freezer we could do without. Then we sold collectibles, jewelry. We had our first big yard sale. We made ends meet in hard times. That’s what you do, right?
You persevere, you look on the bright side, you trust in the Lord. It still hurts, but you do it. You try, at least. Things got better. They did. Good thing, too, since we didn’t have any assets left to sell. It wasn’t as hard as those first six months, but it wasn’t easy either. The thing about problems is they tend to follow you no matter how far away you go. The Walmart card to buy groceries, the Discover to purchase gas. Those pesky bills you rack up in the midst of making ends meet, they confront you, again and again. We had lost the store, been forced to find new income, gotten rid of everything, and taken off to keep from going completely under. The only reason we never lost heart was because we knew Jesus was there. He was leading us, walking with us, and surrounding us with His peace. Had things not fallen apart like they did, we wouldn’t be in the beautiful ashes now, picking up the pieces and building something new and wonderful.
If it hadn’t fallen apart, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Maybe fear would have kept us from moving towards God’s plan for our lives. Our complacency, comfort, pride, and a million other things. We always had prayed that He would lead us to the ministry calling He had given us a vision of over twenty years ago. Be prepared when you pray for something, to get the answer, but oh, how His ways are always best.
Last night, as I struggled for which direction to take for our future, I read a scripture from the Book of Joel. I had heard it before, the first part anyway, but it was the second part that grabbed me.
Joel 2:25 read, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”
Oh, how wonderful! Restoration!
Yet it also read, “my great army that I sent among you.”
Almost as an afterthought, ownership is taken of the locusts that brought ruin. In that moment of scripture I realized that sometimes the Lord brings you locusts. We know that God is for us, and that His plans are to bring us hope and a future. But maybe sometimes we miss the meaning behind the locusts that come our way. We only see ruin, and we lose sight of the new harvest that is coming. Just like how an unkept fire can ravage a forest, a life not led totally for the Lord can be broken. Yet after the fire ends, the soil flourishes. New grass blooms, fresh trees spring up, and a lush landscape takes over the once barren waste. The grass is greener, the trees stronger, the foliage thicker. The fire consumes, but it leaves behind a new earth ready to produce even more than before.
So, if you find yourself in a season of locusts, don’t lose heart. Even as you are holding to faith that the Lord will work it out, remember that He also has a plan of restoration. I don’t believe the folks who say our Heavenly Father is hands off, uncaring of the paths we take here on earth! I believe life is more than chance. I believe God has a specific purpose for each of our lives, and sadly, we don’t always follow His plan. We’re too distracted by the world. So sometimes He has to send locusts to ruin your crop so He can grow something new. Especially if you’re praying for Him to reveal His will for your life!
If you find yourself in a season of hardship, don’t be discouraged. It could just be something you’re going through so the Lord can take you to something better. Your hard path may just be your path to true freedom and peace. Through the past two years, as I’ve walked my own (uncertain path), I have found new ground, fertile soil, where fear and anxiety can no longer grow! I had to walk through ruin to reach freedom. The Lord had to send me locusts before He could send me restoration. For both, I am grateful.