Tuesday, October 6, 2009

True Refreshment

A few months ago, after a long day at work, I couldn't wait to get home, trade my shoes for a pair of flip flops, and step out into the shade and relaxation waiting for me on our back patio. Each afternoon, I would unwind from work by sitting outside, sipping on a cool drink and taking in the beauty of our yard. Imagine my surprise, when I drew back the blinds and reached for the handle of our sliding glass door, only to find sunlight flooding not only our backyard, but every single inch of our patio. How could this be? What had happened to our shady backyard?

Evidently, while I had been slaving away at work, someone else had been slaving away pruning the trees in the yard that backs up to ours. The huge cottonwood that had once provided shade for both our yard and our patio, now barely made any shade at all. The heat from the sun was intense and so was my disappointment.

While the tree was most certainly in need of a “haircut”, I questioned the timing. Now?! In the middle of July? Now?! When shade was in hot demand? Now?! When each afternoon, I counted on the long branches of this tree to provide me with a cool oasis in the midst of the southwestern desert heat! NO! This was all wrong. How could this tree let me down like this? I needed it to stand up tall and be a tree!!! I needed some shade to kick back and relax in! As I stood there looking out my sliding glass door, covered from head to toe by the sunlight now streaming in, God used this moment to illuminate my own life and speak to my heart.

Everywhere we look and every place we go, we find people in need of a spiritual oasis. The struggles, trials and heartaches that often accompany life can be relentless at times, beating down on us until we are weak, dehydrated and desperately in need of a time of refreshment. God created you and me to be an umbrella of His love to those in need. Our prayers, our words of encouragement, our helping hands or listening ears can help to shield a hurting heart from the heat of life. Just like I counted on the cottonwood tree to be there for me, people in our lives are counting on us.

How many times have I disappointed others by failing to provide them with the “shade” they are so desperately counting on? How many times have I taken care of my own needs without giving any thought to the timing or the subsequent consequences of my actions in the lives of those around me? How many people have come to me hoping to find shelter from the heat of the battles in their lives only to be disappointed with my lack of interest, lack of compassion and lack of support? As I slowly closed the blinds, I realized God was doing some pruning of his own… in my heart.

Maybe God was calling me to stand up and be the child of God He had created me to be. Maybe, instead of going out into my backyard, God was challenging me to step out my front door and into the lives of those around me. Maybe God was desperatley trying to open my heart to the simple truth found in Proverbs 11:25, NLT:

“those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed”

Maybe, my finding shade wasn’t nearly as important as my giving it away to others.

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