(Oh, shush. It's a good pun. For the prequel to this story, click here.)
My mind has been at war with my heart lately. Actually, my everything has been at war with my everything else lately. Heart. Soul. Thoughts. Emotions. I've been feeling distant from God, and this feeling has begun to manifest itself in my actions, or lack thereof, of prayer, reading the Bible, and intentional, positive fellowship with...well, anyone. I know that it seems like at times I go on and on about the doubts of faith I experience. However, I feel like if I just get them out, articulate them, and express them (poorly) through this blog, then it helps me to understand what I'm wrestling with. And it keeps me from getting myself up on some kind of silly pedestal.
So, since the weather has turned Springish again, I decided to go outside and once again get my hands dusty and dirty. Work through the dirt so that I might work though things in my mind, if you will. Ashley and I cleared out the azalea beds, getting them ready for Year Two here in SC. This meant raking out all the existing pine needles, clearing out the dead undergrowth, and yes...weeding.
Now, keep in mind that the weather's been nice for a few weeks by this point. This means that for the past few weeks, I've been taking my handy li'l spade, going up and down the flower beds and throughout the yard, digging out the various and sundry green things which try to get in the way of my Southern-male-well-manicured-lawn.
And all was great...until Paul showed up. Paul. Paul is the name I have given my pain, this particular weed which JUST. WON'T. GO. AWAY. My weed in my flesh. My perceived horticultural stumbling block which I have physically removed time and again.
Funny enough, Paul's a flower. Not a weed.
Regardless of his herbal classification, Paul keeps growing back in a very annoying location: dead freaking center (and yes, I have measured it) of the base of the stairs which lead to the sidewalk in front of our house. So picture this, if you will: nice green grass, a freshly-swept sidewalk, and then this frigging thing just jutting out for all the world to see.
One day while I was outside pondering the practicality of a tactical nuclear strike on my sidewalk to get rid of Paul once and for all, I felt God speak.
This flower - life - is a symbol of God breaking through me. He continually breaks through - quietly, persistently, and sometimes slowly - what I think is best. I'm the sidewalk. God is the flower (God is life; go figure).
Is it an annoyance? Yep. It's supposed to be. Life is messy, unruly, and unordered...to my eyes and how I think things are supposed to be laid out. I don't stop to try and see the order behind what I perceive as chaos - namely, Paul growing where I don't think he's supposed to.
I don't stop to see or even consider God growing because I'm too preoccupied with what else I think should be growing where. At least, not until I begin to see a bloom showing through in an area where I wasn't planning on there being one.
God has other plans. And if I'm honest with myself, sometimes I get as annoyed at His plans as I do at poor Paul at the base of my sidewalk.
And taking this metaphor a step further, if I try to use a sidewalk (my efforts) to cover my past or my sins? God breaks through. Life will exist where and when I feel I am at my most barren and devoid of the ability to live again. Because of what I have laid down (the concrete), I can't get to the root of the flower. My plans, my sins, my everything: nothing I do can or will overshadow and keep God from breaking through.
So, paraphrasing what Keith Green and Randy Stonehill before me have sung, I should feel like a barefoot child dancing in the sun, unafraid, facing each day, because Your love broke through and continues to break through.
I'll just do my best to not trample Paul. Literally and metaphorically.