Thursday, 23 June 2011

Rain clouds and apple trees

It still feels dark to me. This morning the sun was streaming through the window as I opened the curtains with eyes half open but it's been a while since it's felt sunny to me.

Right now it looks like rain, and that's more like it. At the moment I'm waking up every day and going to bed every night feeling heavy, weighed down. The looks like rain feeling. I know you're there but I can't find you. I know you haven't left me but I can't feel you. I'm holding on to what I know of you, and I know that you love me, and you are faithful.

I don't know why all of a sudden I feel so defeated; so much has happened this year that hasn't knocked my duck off (as they say in this neck of the woods) that it's sort of taken me by surprise that all of a sudden I feel so low when in some ways the mists are starting to clear. Today is another appointment with Katy's consultant and I'm hoping that she'll discharge her, or at least leave the next appointment a few months. I'm hoping that the biopsy results will be nothing to worry about as it's been three weeks since Katy's surgery so I assume that if it had been urgent we'd have been told by now. Her wound is finally healing well and dressings might not be necessary any more. Indeed, I'm sure that there's been a tiny bit of divine intervention (thankyou) as her current dressing almost came off in the night so the removal won't have to be such a performance. Here's hoping.

I'm tired. I am in need of A Good Night's Sleep. I could do without the living room radiator dramatically exploding at the valve last night and belching out torrents of filthy water onto my carpet. I could do without waiting this afternoon for the plumber to come and put it right. I could have done without having lost my contact lens this morning and I could have done without Katy headbutting me in the cheekbone about half an hour ago.

I'm definitely in danger of only seeing the bad things. At home group last night one of my good friends prayed that we would not only start to notice the things that go wrong but to see the blessings too. I know that I'm in a frame of mind where I've been wondering why things keep going wrong for so long that I just associate the next thing with the preceding disasters and assume that it's all in the same pattern. I need to watch out for the little glimmers of light in the dreariness as well.

Last night good friends came round for home group and we had a good time. Enjoyed each other's company and had a good talk. People spoke of answered prayers, finding blessings in unexpected places. I'm not sure that I was particularly positive and at prayer time I couldn't find any words. All I can do at the moment is hold it all out to you.

I had a picture last night of sitting at a table and laying out my worries and anxieties and fears and problems and unease in front of me as if I was dealing cards for a game of patience. I was holding them tightly in one hand and laying them one by one at the table. Someone prayed the words, 'Lord, draw our prayers together, those said and unsaid,' and suddenly my angle on the scene swivelled round to the other side of the table and I saw myself, hunched over the 'cards' on the table. I still held the pack in my right hand and I was looking down at the array of things on the table. If I was at that side of the table I must have been looking at the scene from your perspective.

I am laying my rubbish in front of you as if they are cards in a hand I've been dealt. I know that I need to give them to you. I am holding them tight and slowly, painfully, arranging them on the table for you. I don't take my eyes off them. I look at them with my head bent low. I hunch. I clench my fist around the rest of the pack of cards in my hand.

Why on earth aren't I throwing them down with abandon and pushing the whole pile of jumbled rubbish over to you? How blessed am I to have someone who says, 'Don't worry about it. Give it to me. I'll take care of it.'?  It makes no sense to me that I fuss so much over my troubles and seem reluctant to give them up.

If someone said to me, 'I have this injury. It hurts, and it makes life difficult in so many ways. I wish I didn't have it. The doctor has told me that it's easy to sort out, and he can cure it completely so that it won't bother me a bit if I'll only go and see him and let him treat me but I haven't managed to get to the surgery yet.'

I'd think 'Whyever not?' Why would you not take up an offer like that and stop walking bent over in pain?!

So why can't I find the way to the surgery? What's stopping me?


Life has it's ups and downs, doesn't it?

'If the clouds are full of water, they pour rain down on the earth.'

Ecclesiastes 11:3

They certainly do. There seem to have been some pretty big rainclouds evacuating their contents on me recently.

'Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the black chariots of bright grace. These clouds will empty themselves before long, and every tender herb will be the gladder for the shower.'

Unless it rains, the plants won't grow. So says Charles Spurgeon, who seems to have something to say on most subjects.  A man after my own heart... I've read many times recently that unless we go through tough times, we won't grow either. 'God wants you to grow up' said Rick Warren, in my chapter of 'The Purpose Driven Life' last night. I'm quite sure you do. So what am I learning in this season of rain (and hail and high winds)?

I know that you are with me no matter what.
I know that I can, with the help of friends and neighbours, sort out a torrent of dirty water issuing forth from my living room radiator and arrange to get it fixed.
I know that I have good friends who care for me.
I know that nothing is forever, except for you.
I know that after it's rained, the sun might come out.
I know that my contact lens may well turn up later, dried out and stuck to my foot at bedtime.

I know that I am loved. And the fact that I am loved by the Creator of the universe, the Lord of everything, the Saviour of the world is a wonderful thing.

Will my troubles bring me blessings? Will something special come out of these months that I can't yet see?  I know you, a bit, and I think this is probably something you might do. I just can't see the full picture from my side of the card table. I'm too busy looking down.

I know that you have a plan for me and that I am not finished yet. I know that you are moulding me into something better so that your plan might come to fruition. I know that I want you to make me more like you; but how naive I am when I say that and expect that it won't hurt. Why should I think it would be easy?

My little apple trees
I need to cheer up. Buck up. Get my pecker up again. Start looking on the bright side. Find joy in my blackbird, in the seedlings in the greenhouse.

Did you know that a week or two ago Elizabeth ate an apple while watching me plant seeds in the greenhouse and then gave me four seeds from her apple and said, 'Can we grow an apple tree?'  Well, three of those four seeds are little brave seedlings now with their second and third pair of leaves sprouting. I just wish I could remember if I bought Braeburn that week or Royal Gala. But a little tree or three have sprouted in my greenhouse.  We found seeds in the middle of an apple, we put them in compost, watered them (generously!) and left them in the warmth and the light. And lo and behold, we have three little trees.

I'll start with that. Got to go to the hospital in ten minutes to see the consultant. I think I might just go and say hello to my baby trees first.

I'll tell them you said hi.

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