I was tired of looking at them……….the dried up remnants of my once bright and beautiful flowers in my two little flower beds off the back patio. The extreme summer drought and heat had taken its toll on my flowers and had turned their former glory into black ugliness. Long gone were the cheery yellows of the Black-Eyed Susans; the pretty pink of the Coneflowers; the stunning orange of the Tiger Lilies; and the soft purple of the Garden Phlox. It was time to do some trimming………trimming that is usually left until autumn but was necessary now, in August.
Taking my pruning shears and my garden gloves, I headed outside and was soon filling up my pop-up container with the dry, dusty remains of my flowers. As I clipped, I wondered if any of these perennials would return next spring, even as I noticed places that were already bare – where death had already sunk deep into the roots and destroyed the visible plants as well. Two summers of severe dryness and burning sun had indeed claimed many flowers and trees and vegetables. Even with what watering we did, nothing could replace refreshing rain and kinder, cooler temperatures.
My garden shoes crunched over the brittle mulch as I bent over to cut away the deadness. And as I clipped the useless remnants of my flowers, I noticed that even in the seemingly lifeless garden, some creatures and plants continued to live. Here and there were weeds……..a chickweed growing against the brick border……….a clump of crab grass nestled in the dry mulch. How do weeds manage to live even in the midst of such drought? Around me I saw grasshoppers lunging up as I disturbed their hiding places. As if my struggling flowers needed any other detriments to their growth, I thought. Those ugly grasshoppers would eat any remaining life out of these poor flowers for sure. The life that I was seeing in my flower garden was not the kind that I wanted to see at all!
Yet as my shears stripped away the dull remains of my flowers, I saw some color. There, nestled amidst the blackness, was the welcome sight of a yellow Black-Eyed Susan; a bright pink little Coneflower; a softer pink Garden Phlox. They were both a reminder of what had once been and the hope of what could very possibly come again next spring. Dryness and death doesn’t have to be the norm, I thought. There is always hope that the rains will come again; that the sun will be kinder; that replanting or reseeding can occur. In the meantime, here and there a flower still grew, and the purpose of these seemingly dead plants was evident in the midst of awful circumstances.
I’ve experienced dry times in my life. We all have those seasons…………or will have if we live long enough. Prolonged stresses and disappointments just suck the life and the beauty out of our very souls. Days are long and nights are longer. The heat of our worries and trials beats us down, blacken our outlook, and steal our joy. There seems to be no evident end in sight………no welcome rain cloud to provide moisture or to shield us from the sun’s burning rays. And in our weakest moments, we see weeds sprouting up around us………..weeds of worry, of bitterness, of anger, of blame, of defeat. Or the hopping grasshoppers of our thought life, hopping to this conclusion or to that decision that is not in God’s plan for us at all.
David experienced these desert seasons as he ran from King Saul. Here was the future king of Israel, appointed by God, yet hiding in caves and running for his life. He was falsely accused, thrust out, tormented, and unwanted – with no end in sight to his suffering. In Psalm 63, David poured out his heart: “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for you; my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” What did David do in that dry and weary land in which he found himself? Did he worry, complain, become bitter, or throw a royal fit? No! He sought God earnestly – and not for what God could do for him, but because of WHO God is. He thirsted and yearned for God, “……to see Your power and Your glory.”
How did David seek God? “Because Your loving kindness (grace) is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your Name.” (Psalm 63:3-4) David took action! He didn’t sit there and allow ugly weeds or grasshoppers to clutter his soul. He used his lips to praise God and he lifted his hands in worship of God. He opened the way for God’s beauty to fill his being even in the midst of a dry desert and a dark cave. Just as my little blooming flowers shone in my ugly flower bed, so David’s praise and worship was a shining light in his own heart and to those around him…………a light to reveal the great God Who loves us and delights in our praise even in the dry seasons of our lives…………..ESPECIALLY in those dry seasons!
It’s up to us…………..will it be ugly weeds and destructive grasshoppers? Or will we lift our hands in worship and open our mouths in praise in the middle of the heat and dryness of our prolonged trials? (Psalm 63:5)