On Friday, after a week of very grey days, a friend and I took advantage of the sunshine and scooted over to Appleton Farms. Not only a beautiful farm covered in fields bubbling over with fresh produce and flowers, the property also has many trails to explore by foot, bike, or horse! In this perfect autumn season the trails were nothing short of magical. The leaves were freshly dipped in the richest reds, oranges, and yellows imaginable and the soft crunch beneath my feet combined with the fresh autumnal scent was more than enough to lift a week of grey and (slightly) glum spirits. Many times throughout our running we had to stop and stare at our little map of colorful lines, trying desperately to locate where we were and where we were trying to go. Twice we stumbled upon tall and elegant statues, whispers of the lives that used to trod those overgrown paths. As we carefully stepped around the towering subject, squinting our eyes to read the words engraved on the worn surface, a little snake slithered just beyond our feet - the first of three we would run into that afternoon.
Running around colorful trees and old statues brings to mind a lot more than an appreciation for life, autumn, and friends. These days my mind has been consumed with different seasons of life and how they contrast one another so drastically. Some seasons of life I feel like a little tree that can barely keep up with the leaves and buds sprouting all around me. Constantly my limbs feel stretched and the growth is evident. Other seasons however, I feel more like those statues - somewhat stagnant, not very interesting, and at times quite uncertain as to what I am contributing to anything.
So far this year, I am a statue. This semester seems to be one of discipline and chiseling... and so far I am not doing a very good job. Instead of sprouting lots of new buds, I feel like each day God is taking out his little chisel and chipping off teeny tiny parts of me, lovingly forming me into who he wants me to be. It is definitely not easy, nor enjoyable. It's a whole lot easier to be selfish, impatient, rash, bitter, and childish...but the chiseling goes on regardless. I cannot always see why that one little chip matters, or why he must continue to chip away in the same spot day after day- and though I sometimes squirm like a little defiant child, God is patient. He is not putting the tools away and giving up. He is not walking away from this work that he began; he will continue it until it is complete. It is difficult to be faithful. It is hard to continue to be obedient in tasks that you do not necessarily love. It is a challenge to work with people you do not always agree with, to love people in the midst of adversity...
but this summer God taught me that if we put our hands diligently to the work that he has set before us, he will be faithful in carrying out his will. If we continue to walk faithfully and obediently even when we don't feel like it, or want to, or even want to want to...he will bless even our feeblest effort as he did with the loaves and the fish. If we are willing to offer what we have even when it seems like nothing, if we are able to trust that he is here and chipping away at us however slowly, he will be glorified. What more can I ask for?
It definitely is not very fun to be a statue, I'd rather be a tree any day... but with hope, all of this chiseling will help me to be more courageous, more honest, steadfast, loving, gentle...
"Lord, make me an instrument of your pace
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
And where this is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And in dying that we are born to eternal life."
-St. Francis of Assisi