It’s a bit cold to be sitting in my tree-house this morning, but as I think about what to write, I notice my view has changed. Trees are down, some blocking my path and others are no longer standing next to the stream. There are even more snapped limbs, a few still dangling precariously above. This is the result of some extra heavy snow that fell a few weeks ago.
Now that I think about it, my snowshoe path was blocked in numerous places as well. I discovered that the hard way because a day after the storm, I set out on my usual winter hike and found the path more challenging to navigate than normal. I had a choice, I could turn back and give up on the pleasure of snowshoeing or I could try to find another route.
What did I choose? Both. I pushed myself through the brush until the way became too difficult. Because the path was no longer clear, I decided it wasn’t worth getting tangled up in the briers or tripping over hidden branches in the snow.
A question worth pondering: are the unexpected things in our path God’s way of getting us to go in a different direction? Or are they just distractions to keep us from reaching our destination. Cutting my walk short wasn’t that big of a deal in the scheme of things, but quitting on other things when they have become hard, could be. For example, The Apostle Paul was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead. (Acts 14:19-22) God raised him up and he went back into the same city. Wow! Talk about persistence! Then there was a time when Paul and his team wanted to preach the word in Asia and the Holy Ghost forbade them. Then they planned to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit didn’t allow them to. (Acts 16:6-7)
We need to be sensitive to God’s Spirit to know when to push through when things are hard and when to change course.
Another thing worth mentioning is that all the trees were covered with snow, not just the ones that broke. Selah. Some came down or snapped under the external pressure. Others bowed beneath the weight; they bent and were stretched, but did not break. Symbolically, we all have weights, tough situations that try to hinder or stop our spiritual growth. To force us off course or cause us to react poorly, instead of representing Jesus well through them. If you’re stuck under the weight of sickness, financial difficulties, an unfulfilling job or an unreasonable boss, rebellious children, etc. (insert your own weight, whatever you’re going through that’s trying to keep you down), you might feel like there is no hope and at any moment you could snap. Don’t let the cares of this life overwhelm you.
This makes me think of the woman in Luke 13:10-13 who was so bowed over with a spirit of infirmity that she could not straighten herself or even look up. But do you know why she “didn’t snap”? Why she bent under the pressure, but didn’t break? Because she didn’t allow her condition to keep her from the house of God—from fellowship with Him. It was there in His presence that she found strength and hope. The Bible said she had this infirmity for eighteen years. That’s a long time, yet she remained faithful to the Lord who in turn gave her the ability to make it another day, another week, another month, year by year.
She didn’t expect God to come to her; instead, she came faithfully to Him. Then one day, her “suddenly” came. Jesus was in her midst, teaching in the Synagogue. On this day her path immediately looked different. She was now able to stand straight. To look up. To see Jesus. To cast off the oppression that kept her bowed. Her whole world looked different because her vantage point changed in the presence of a merciful God.
Now, what if she had quit trusting in the Lord years, or even weeks, earlier? What if she didn’t stay attached to the vine that was her life source? What if that day, she decided to say home? She would have been a branch that dried up and snapped under the weight instead of bending with it.
Struggles are guaranteed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Even when things look or feel hopeless, they only are when we stop believing that God has a plan for our lives beyond what we can see at the moment. Stay attached to the Tree of Life and you’ll find He doesn’t give you more than you can bear.