“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)
Our middle son was tragically hit by a drunk driver while riding his bike on the side of the road, struck down in his youth, only 16 years old, his future suddenly gone, his life snuffed from him, and our child cruelly ripped from our family. This horrific event happened in November of 1997, in the barrenness before the Winter season arrived.
It was during this season of my life, the sudden and unexpected death of my son, I would walk the most difficult and anguished journey I would ever experience, known as Grief.
It was on my walk today during the same time of year our son was taken from us, where I reflected, noticing the varying stages of plant life; the trees having no leaves, the bushes bearing no flowers, the grass dulled, was a time in their plant cycle where their fruit lay dormant. The word hibernating came to my mind and I saw this as a season of unseen fruit, a time of barrenness.
This brought to my remembrance that time in my life in losing our son and the many days, hours and months following, where I felt lifeless, where I felt limp, where my life source felt dulled to everything except the incredible burning deep pain I carried each moment, where stepping one foot in front of the other took all my effort in overcoming this incredible inertia.
Yet, as I viewed these plants, barren of their fruit, I knew life was still coursing through their limbs, as their roots traveled deeply underneath the earth, digging into the richness of the waters that sustained them. So was it during my time of feeling lifeless, that I knew my life source of Christ’s Spirit still resided in me, yet I could not sense Him.
As these plants were barren of any fruit, I felt barren in my grief, where I lived in the dry desert of not sensing God’s Spirit life within me, where I felt like I too was in a sort of hibernating state, moving around in a dazed state of being.
It was during those dark days I felt as if I was trudging in heavily laden thick mud, the trenches where I did not sense God, where I did not see God, where I did not feel His presence, nor did I feel His hand upon my life.
I never thought I would get through some of those days, nor did I think I would see any normality returning to my life, yet the inner part of me who trusted in my Father’s Word, the part of me who knew His ability, was still there, and the known reality of His Promise, to never leave me, was infused within my soul and I knew He still existed, even though I had no visible evidence, I knew beyond a shadow of any doubt, He was still with me.
It was during those times my walk became Faith. It was during those times, I placed my confidence in the experiential knowing that all things are possible to continue moving forward by relying on this internal source of His Word, who is Christ, to breathe His resurrected life into my mortal body, where His Spirit was my source of all my need, where I had to dig deeply into the roots of His life given waters, to discover Him in the midst of my adversity.
It was during these barren, dry, hibernating seasons, as I walked this journey in Grief, my choice to continue in the reality of whose I had become, to walk in the promises written in His Word, and to rely on His Spirit life to enter into my brokenness, allowing Him room to be with me in my suffering, where I looked forward expecting this same power that rose Christ from the dead, would be the same power that would bring forth His life in this dry season of my union in Him.
In looking back at those seasons, it was in those darkest of days, in the toughest of times, in those seasons of unseen fruit, where I grew and matured the most in my faith walk.
It was during those days I thought I would never survive, that His Spirit was germinating, birthing new fruits within my inner heart, sprouting in the right time, in the right season of my life, when my faith would become the vehicle giving me a spiritual sight, granting me His ability and it would be in His Strength I would be able to endure in those driest of times.
I knew somehow, that He would bring me through those long days, months and years in my journey experiencing varying degrees of grief. I knew placing my confidence in Him to give me ability where I had none of my own was how I had to live.
This was the faith spoken of in the Scriptures where I had to walk in the unseen, the unknown, the uncertainty, the unfamiliar. These were days I fully knew in my head, He was with me, yet did not sense Him during these hibernating seasons in my experiencing grief.
It was in those seasons of hidden fruit, I found myself having to walk through cold days of a long hibernating winter in my soul.
The psalmist describes some of the most heart wrenching of human emotions, and it was in the midst of those seasons of winter, in the times of intense difficulties, they too found God to be their source of all strength, their source of all fruit, and their source of the often hidden and hibernating spirit who is at work in us, even when we do not sense or feel Him.
We, like the psalmist can cry out in thankfulness to our God, who hears us, who responds to us, and who is the source of all of whom we are becoming in times of dryness and in times of plenty.
We can know, it is He who remains faithful and true to us and to His character, always being the One we can run to, always being the One in whose we are, always being the One who embraces us with His forever love.
I remember this verse of a song I knew in the youth of my faith, where I sang with my spiritual family in the early season of my walk with the Lord, and I share it now, for it rings true to my heart.
“For we know whom we have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day!”
I am sure we can all reflect, in remembering those times in our lives where we experienced a barrenness in our Faith.
Perhaps you are going through a season of feeling this way now.
Know this, He who has begun a work in you will steady you and He will bring you through times of intense anguish in and by His faithfulness as you place your confidence in His Spirit of ability to do so, walking the path known as Faith in the often-unexpected difficulties found in our lives.
Lorraine Taylor – Lay Minister
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