Do you see what these roots are doing to the sidewalk, and how they are adapting?

This takes tenacity on the part of the tree.

It does not give up.

It does not say, that concrete is too hard, I’m just going to give up and wither.

It probably didn’t even stop to consider the obstacle as a permanent barrier, it just adapted and grew.

That made me think about us, well me really.

What do I do when things get tough, do I adapt?

or complain?

or give up?

or demand that God remove the barrier?

or accuse God of not caring about the difficulty?

What if the barrier is something that will not only make me stronger, but also make me more creative?  What if the barrier, when properly approached will enhance my faith?  

I know from experience that the spiritual life has many barriers and that sometimes things get really tough.  Sometimes it seems like God is absent.  In fact one of the books I have on prayer is called, “Drinking from a dry well”.  I have had that book for maybe 20 years and I have never finished it.  I do go back to it, when I feel in a drought with God, but the book is full of advice on how to plod through the drought, and I want answers on how to find the oasis.

As I looked at how that tree adapted and it’s roots intertwined with the cobblestones and became a work of art I began to wonder about my attitude.  Maybe I need to read that book when things are going well, and learn to put into practice the dry well drinking, so that, when I do enter a drought I’ll have the resources to not just cope, but also to overcome.

I wonder if I can find that book in all the rubble of my half packed office……..

But that tree also makes me think of people that have come to me for help over the years.  There is so much in this world that defeats us…. our ill health, the deaths of those we love, sick children, and the list goes on. When people ask for help, they are usually at the end of their rope.  They don’t see a way out.  They think God has abandoned them. They have given up on God.  In fact, one woman once announced that she wanted to divorce God.  

This is an attitude that has existed from ages past.  In fact the Psalms are full of the laments of those who have felt abandoned by God.  They complain that God is not listening to their prayers.  Sometimes they wish God would just kill them and get it over with.  Yet in each case, the psalmist chose to hang in with God and was rewarded with a renewed faith, and a confident trust.  

I always try, when talking with others to help them realize that they are not alone.  God is with them, is always with them, and will always hear them when they pray.  I know, from experience that when there is no light at the end of the tunnel that it seems hopeless, but I also know that at the other side of the difficulty that I see how God has been with me the whole way.  

Following one such dry spell I wrote what I titled “A personal psalm”

God, your goodness surrounds me
Peace and joy come with the morning
The singing of the birds are like songs of praise
The song that they sing:
                    Through it all,  you O God are good.

God, oh God, where have you gone?
Doubt and fear are all around me
The clamor of voices, the shouts of anger
The song that they sing:
                     Where is your God, whom you call good?

Enemies shout, doubt distracts, fear attacks
But in grace God comes, bringing calm and comfort
His messengers bring aid and words of hope
They remind me:
                       Through it all, God is good.

I lay my burden down
I surrender my will to God’s
I look at the unfolding of God’s gifts
And I sing the song that fills my heart:
                       Through it all, God is good.

My heart rejoices, my spirit soars
Again I sing the song that fills my heart
Through it all, God is good.

I am reminded, that God loves me and God cares for me and about what happens to me.  If I hang in with God I can trust him to hold onto me with a love that will never let go.  Now to remember that the next time I feel the walls crashing around me.