Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hopeless Patches.

(This post was originally written in April of this year. I revised it today and am posting it now for the first time.)

A couple of months ago, as I stood at the bus stop waiting for the #2 to come, I found myself staring at the ground next to me. Behind the bus stop was some of the most trampled, rock-hard dirt I had ever seen.  I stood there for several minutes, hypnotized by the barrenness of it.  I found myself thinking that it would be virtually impossible for anything to grow there. First, because of the state of the soil. Thousands of people wander across it every day... packing it down hard enough that I don't even think a day of rain could turn it to mud. Second, because even if something miraculously decided to grow there, it would soon be trampled by the pedestrians (myself included) who had made it another path to the bus stop.  I boarded the bus saddened at the thought of the bleak prospects that corner of earth faced.  Life was never going to grow there. It was a Hopeless Patch.

A few weeks later, I was back at that very same bus stop, and I was shocked to see that hopeless patch of earth was being worked on by men armed with garden tools, dressed in overalls.  They were sweating as they stomped on shovels; tilling the hardened surface of long-unloved soil. It was difficult work because of how compacted it had become, but they were succeeding. Again, I stood and stared. I watched them until my bus came, wondering what the point of their efforts was.  I still didn’t believe anything could grow in there. and yet, over the course of a couple of weeks, I repeatedly witnessed the consistent effort they were focusing on that patch of earth. They were really giving it a go, you know? They were going to try to make something grow there. It was kind of inspiring.

Still, I was doubtful.

A few weeks later, I once again walked up to the bus stop that I had become quite familiar with and I stood in awe of what I saw. The workers were gone, and in their place were hundreds of tiny, baby blades of grass. It was GROWING. It was actually happening. Life! I was floored. 

Two weeks after that, I approached the baby blades of grass and was humbled.  It had grown up and in its place were thousands of blades of the brightest, greenest grass I’d ever seen.  Not only that, but it was protected by a hedge of bushes that had been planted. No one was walking on this new grass. They couldn't! Because of that hedge of protection, it was thriving.  It was then that I felt the Spirit whisper to my heart, “You didn’t think anything could grow here. You thought it was impossible, but I have caused this area to thrive and flourish. I’m going to do the same thing here in this city, and I’m going to do the same thing in you. The parts that you don’t think can grow and change, I’m going to do a miracle in.”

(Or something like that ;) )

I was deeply humbled in that moment because I was faced with my own unbelief. Most of the time, I really don’t think anything can happen or grow or change here.  I just see this city and this place as the soil that’s been trampled and destroyed.  I believe God showed me that hopeless patch of grass was a metaphor for this country.  The workers that tilled and spent weeks working the soil, planting, and putting up a hedge around it were people I know. I felt in my heart, that in His own time, God would perform a miracle here.  On a personal level, I also felt that God was telling me He could take the parts of me that had hardened and stopped growing - the Hopeless Patches of my heart and soul - and that He would create new life there, too.  

An iPhone photo of Hopeless Patch flourishing.

Dirt, soil, plants I'm not one who typically notices things like that, which is why I believe that it was God who allowed me to become fascinated by this patch of earth, and that it was for a reason.  I have very few moments in my life when I feel confident that God was speaking something to my heart, but this was definitely one of them. So take heart, friends, and remember that life can still happen in the most barren, hardened, and Hopeless Patches. 

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