The giant mango tree in our backyard is shedding an impressive amount of leaves these days. Sweeping them up each week isn’t exactly on the top of my priority list, but it was getting out of control so we finally decided to tackle the mess. For two days we swept the leaves into piles. Yesterday we piled up the first layers and by sunset we could finally start to see sprouts of green grass again. Then today we swept the rest of the leaves up into new piles. I grabbed my trash bag and started to pick up the leaves, sticky with sap, and put them into the bag. When the bag was full, I would carry it over to the fire, pour it out, and start to fill it again.
There was only one problem…one very frustrating problem. As I would bend over to pick up these sappy leaves, more leaves would fall from the tree onto my head, or into my lap, or right beside my neatly swept pile. Every few minutes, a gust of wind would blow through the yard, and 20 more leaves would fall and scatter across the ground! It was the most defeating feeling knowing that even after all my hard work this afternoon- my aching back, the smell of fire soaked into my skin, and my hands covered in sticky sap, even still a whole new layer of leaves will be waiting for me tomorrow when I walk outside in the morning. What’s the point?!
The feeling I had in those moments when the leaves continued to fall around me as I was picking up my piles- it was a really familiar feeling. I couldn’t place it at first (I’m not exactly known around our house for sweeping up the leaves often), but then suddenly it all clicked for me- this is really what life is like…
Many of you know, because I talked about it some, that last year was a tremendously hard year for me. Trials and testings just piled on like wave after wave, leaving me with no time to come up for air. I went home to America at the end of it all for some much needed rest from life here.
But after those 7 weeks at home in America, I came back here to the Philippines revived and stronger, soaked in prayer- so very sure and confident that the worst of life was over. I just knew I was heading into calm, easy waters this year. I had done my time and cleaned up my leaves, so to speak. All those problems and trials from the year before that had surrounded me were all swept up into piles and burned. The only residue remaining on my hands like sap were the lessons I learned and determined to hold onto as reminders of what God brought me through. Everything else was gone-in a good way- and I was more than ready to enjoy my beautiful, clean yard I had worked for! 2016 was surely heading into bright sunny days…
And in fairness, I should mention that this year is exponentially better than last year! Hallelujah and amen. I’m truly so in awe and thankful at the goodness of God’s perfect plans for my life. BUT friends, this year is not without trials of it’s own. Haha, oh how I wish! But that’s just not how life works is it? Just like the mango leaves that continue to fall in my yard as I sweep, life continues to throw hard, albeit different, circumstances my way this year. We can strive and strive to clean up our life, work through our struggles and neatly sweep it all into piles and throw them into the fire. But when you turn around, there will always be more waiting for you..
There are always ever changing seasons in our lives. During rainy season, way more leaves fall into my yard than during the summer. But I can always be sure there will be leaves around somewhere for me to sweep! It’s the same for you and me- some seasons of life will be harder than others. There are refining times where we walk through fire, and there are other times in life that are more like mountaintop experiences, and then of course there’s the mundane, every day life in between those two extremes.
But there is no such thing as a problem free life. And sad for me- there is no such thing as a leaf-free yard! But it reminds me that life isn’t really about arriving at perfection. It’s all about our day-to-day journeys with God- the sweeping, and the burning, the washing and the remembering, the striving and the resting in our lives- those are actually the very moments that matter most…that build us and shape us into who we are.
If you are chasing after a trial free life you’re just chasing the wind…you will never find what you’re looking for. But if we can accept that this is life- the changing seasons and all- then we will surely find the deepest joy that God created us for.
So may your knees always be grass stained from kneeling down to carry your piles in prayer. And may your sap- covered hands remind you of all you worked through and how far you’ve come…happy sweeping!