"Persistent Climbers and Twiners!"

Every summer I fight to eradicate a persistent, pesky vine from preying upon my border plants, shrubs, and beloved rhododendron! While I have never completely identified the exact species, I think this "climber" is in the family of summer annuals like a "Morning Glory." One thing I know, although it has heart-shaped leaves that are configured alternately on the stem, I have no love in my heart for this "twiner!" Nearly every season, this vine will spread like a canopy upon the tops of the rhododendron until it shades and smothers this plant that we prize for its beautiful lilac flowers. When I unloose the vine and pull this mass down to dispose of it before it completely suffocates the plant, it fills up half of a large lawn-waste container! 
Where is this rambler going?

This vine is the enemy! Just this week, I was surveying the roof and siding of our house for any wind damage from a recent storm. I looked up some eight feet at the corner molding behind a downspout and just under the eave... and what did I notice? You guessed it! Shooting up out of nowhere was a green, leafy slithering stem emerging from within the protective vinyl. What was this? I got out a step ladder for a closer examination and noticed immediately that it was another pesky "climber and twiner!" This plant is giving new definition to the idea of persistence! My patience has been tested once again on the lawn and garden front! 

In my faith journey, I have learned in moments of exasperation to ask this question, "Lord, what am I supposed to learn from this?" I often think about how challenging it is to "be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble" (James 1:2 MSG). How is this disposition even possible? It's not unless we appropriate God's wisdom and discernment! James further explains the process of our maturity in Christ, "You know you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything. If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won't correct you for asking" (Ja. 1:3-5). 

I am desiring of a durable or persistent faith!  This is the kind of faith that stands up under testing times. So often, we give in or up too quickly. We fail to understand that God in His time and in His way personalizes and customizes the trials He allows and uses to shape us. In building Abraham's faith, God asked him to do something impossibly difficult in sacrificing Isaac, his one and only son of promise. Joseph went through a journey of trials that included being thrown into a pit by his brothers and into prison by an enraged Potiphar before God would eventually, and after thirteen years, place him in Pharaoh's palace. This would be the exact place where he could save his family from famine. Moses waited eighty years before he would discover his full usefulness in God's plan. During these decades, his life would be in peril numerous times in Egypt and in the desert wilderness. A friend of mine says, "trials have people's zip codes and thumbprints on them!" 

"Lord, what am I supposed to learn from this?" You have to supply the specifics. God is developing each of us in specialized ways in order to bring us to maturity in our faith. But the advice of Scripture is clear: Be glad with where you are and with what you are facing. Accept the testing times because God uses them to develop durability in our faith. And this takes time! So wait patiently and persistently so that when the process is complete... the fruit of your faith will ripen and emerge in full maturity! 

One of my favorite worship songs these days is "Way Maker" written by the Nigerian gospel singer, Sinach. The lyrics of this popular piece lifts our praise to God as "Miracle worker, promise keeper," and affirms, "Even when I don't see it. Even if I don't feel it. You're working. You never stop working! My Jesus! Light in the darkness. My God! That is who You are!" Let's keep trusting! God knows what He's doing!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

Comments

  1. Thank you for your words, I definitely needed this today. God bless you Mike. Love you.

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