It’s easier to see the purpose of the pain in retrospect. In the moment, it can be difficult to understand the pain of growth, unless we know there is purpose in the suffering. Just as a child endures a stormy week of tears before reaching a new developmental milestone, so we often struggle when on the cusp of a new stage of maturity.
Last week I shared vulnerable thoughts about a necessary perspective shift that’s happening in my life. Truly, I’m in awe of the way God takes my mess and turns it into something beautiful. There are times when I’ll have a song or scripture on my heart for months, and gradually discover it holds a clue to the developmental work that is going on inside me. For two years now I’ve continually had the song “New Wine” on my heart as God revealed necessary growth being prepared in me. He’s been taking things apart so he can rebuild.
When my husband began breaking ground for his latest building project, the excavators found an existing foundation from a church that had once been on the property. The basement was intact, full of broken bottles and other remnants from the past. All of this had to be removed so the ground could be properly prepared for new construction. If it had been ignored and built over, the new foundations would have collapsed within a few years. To keep the structure’s integrity, the work had to be done completely.
Moments like I shared in last week’s post are seasons when the old is being broken down. The bigger the structure to be removed, the more painful the process may be. You may have heard this referred to as “tearing down strongholds,” anything we have constructed to shield ourselves from needing to live the reality of trust. Anything we’ve been using to protect ourselves from the pain of change and growth.
I had a vision not long ago of a stony ruin, old walls that were breaking down under the persistent growth of abundant flowers. The walls represented pride; strength that comes from man’s ability to have it all together. The flowers were grace, mercy, peace, and joy overtaking the ruin of the former structure.
Trusting God means letting him lay waste to our structures of self sufficiency. We construct strongholds of fear; fear of being known, fear of coming to harm, fear of running out. Trusting God means letting all of that go.
I’m reminded of the familiar parable of the sower in the book of Matthew. Jesus says, “The seed sown on rocky ground is like a person who hears the message and accepts it with joy at once, but has no root in himself. So he stays on for a while; but as soon as some trouble or persecution arises on account of the message, he immediately falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21 CJB) For the reality of the kingdom to take root, the ground must be prepared. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
God is turning up the soil in me, clearing the rubble and preparing my heart to build a structure that will last the ages, far longer than my own strongholds can last. I’ve got to surrender to the pain of change, knowing the purpose of the work. He’s breaking ground.