The Frost of Heaven

freedigitalphotos,com
freedigitalphotos,com/”Beautiful Branch of an Apple Tree With White Blossums” by Serge Bertasius Photography

“Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?” (Job 38: 28-29 NASB)

In the final chapters of Job, the Lord gives the suffering servant somewhat of a dressing down. At least that’s how I interpret the exchange. Job reminds me of a sassy, rebellious school-age boy receiving a lecture by his father. The answer to all of God’s questions would have to be a basic no. No, I cannot do anything. You, dear Lord, are able to do it all.

In my part of the world, the change of seasons is unpredictable from year to year. All the data confirms spring comes after the last frost, which should occur by a late day in April. But, I’ve learned to hold back before planting. I wait and see. I may purchase my seeds and transplants and keep them in my little greenhouse till I know it is safe. I avoid rushing into my garden because I’ve been sorry in the past—frosted out of fertility.

The grip of blue sky atop a ripe plot of soil, accompanied by a delicious warm breeze, is intoxicating to the point of coercion. The yearn to plant can overwhelm even the most conscientious like a drug sneaked into iced tea. However, my education in planting with the seasons allows me some control in that I have my safe place, the greenhouse, to use as shelter. For fruit trees, I’m out of luck.

Commercial growers have elaborate coverings and spray systems to protect tender blossoms and buds from pending, expected frost. As a humble backyard hobby gardener, I possess no such resources. My poor little orchard has to stand and take it, unprotected and vulnerable to the loss of fertility. Each spring I watch and pray over the timing of the frost, knowing the outcome is entirely in Nature’s hands. The Lord is in control and I am not.

Those years I’ve awakened to the dismal reality of frost on the budding trees, I’ve learned to sigh and accept with humility and great disappointment there will be no pies that year. If the pattern repeats again the following year, I may moan and complain but there will still be no pies. Like Job, I have to submit and accept I was no where to be seen when the Creator of the universe laid the foundations of the earth.

The past few years for me have been afflicted with many untimely frosts. Just as projects have been ready to launch, next steps planned to be taken, and expectations of fruition of great effort, a brutal frost descended with vigor and nipped it all right in the bud. There will be no fruit from my efforts, no delicious aroma of baking pies of success, and no stock pile of baked goods stored for future enjoyment. Just as I’ve learned to do with my orchard, I must wait out another season of loss.

The frost of heaven may have been the manna to nourish and sustain the wanderers. For me, the frost from Heaven has been an opportunity to place myself on a diet from the world and learn that the Lord is my sustenance and His word is my nourishment.

Eventually the frost restrains its painful, untimely occurrence and the Lord will once again allow fruit. There will be pies once more. I remain in my safe house, the shelter of his Hands, as I watch and wait for another run of warm inviting days. Like Habakkuk, I realize that even if there are no buds on the vine and no cattle in the stalls I will rejoice in God, my Savior. He is Sovereign and my strength.

 

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ID-100256393Psalm 33:22King James Version (KJV)
22 Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

This verse from Psalms is a memory verse from Andy Stanley’s DVD “He’s Still Got the Whole World in His Hands”. I’d read it many times but Pastor Stanley greatly illuminated the meaning in his study. I highly encourage anyone to view this three-part teaching if figuring out life is something of interest.

Depending on the Bible version, mercy may also translate as love. The psalmist, most likely King David, begs for God’s unfailing or everlasting love to be with him as he shifts all of his eggs into God’s basket. This move is somewhat counterintuitive to modern man as we are told to diversify and be self-reliant. How many of us treat God as a back-up plan rather than a first line of defense?

The theme I most appreciated in Pastor Stanley’s study is that he told the truth about life. Life in this world will disappoint us, fail us, and fall short of our deepest desires. No matter how spiritual I think I am, I admit he is right. I know in my head that true, full, meaningful life only exists for me as a Christian within the boundaries of God’s will and plans but in my heart and mind I have tried to find life in all the things the world can offer.

Even churchy stuff can be stuck on my list of less-than-fulfilled if the activity is an end unto itself and not an offering to God. It’s pretty easy to participate in all kinds of religious activity, looking great on the outside, but coming up empty deep inside. Too many of us have been invited to the party, and we show up well-attired and trained, but in the end we have to admit we didn’t enjoy it.

Then we blame God for the failures of life and ask a lot of why questions. Why did that fail? Why did he die? Why did she leave? How could this have happened? And too many pulpiteers swear that if we just sign up we get prosperity, with Jesus thrown in for good measure. Ask yourself…could any of your attitudes really be rooted in the fallacy that you can actually be the master of your own ship to the end of the rainbow?

Pastor Stanley admonishes to do all the good stuff anyway. Study. Learn. Serve. Train. Work out. Be positive. Strive. Stay faithful. But in the end if your hope is in anything but the Lord, your world will cave without the strength of God’s unfailing love to sustain. In a world of positive thinking, to say that life will disappoint sounds negative and futile. But to me, I found a new truth that set me free.

I must continue on to do what I believe God has called me to do. Yet, I’ve learned that the pain and disappointment of life is not caused by God. He is not to blame. It’s just life. No matter how diligent, educated, talented, beautiful, wealthy, or faithful a person is—life can crash. Life is uncertain but God is not.

Erwin Lutzer says God is just as much in control in waiting as He is in winning. Take heart. If your failures exceed your successes, know you are in good company. Keep on but rest in the unfailing love of God who never fails and has secured a sure hope for believers. Check your basket. Where are your eggs?

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net, “Fresh Eggs in Basket”.