I was burning hot mad. Someone had invaded my territory off my watch and massacred my yard along with the symbols of Spring’s hope that my fragile soul was clinging to. And the invasion came within inches of my child’s grave.
The day before was supposed to be our due date. My husband and I had withdrawn to a quiet retreat several hours away from home to focus on celebrating the value of the life of our son and to ask the Lord for healing in our mourning.
Months earlier, we dreamed of waking up in the wonder of expectation for the life that had been placed inside of me. Instead, we woke up to a flurry of text messages about the births of other babies and an unordinary message from our landlord, wishing to do some yard work at our home, and no baby in our arms.
It seemed that sacred day was being cast into the darkness of life as usual. It felt we were forgotten; that our pain and the day set aside for a holy milestone was to be abandoned for the bustling world that demanded we move forward.
That day actually turned out to be quite beautiful, though. It was a slow, still watered day after we traded those hectic messages for the tuning in of our hearts to our Good Shepherd. We returned home that evening, with hearts full of thanks to the Lord for getting us through such a difficult day’s passage with grace.
But the next day, morning light and the ravenous hum of a chain saw revealed anything but a peace in our borrowed plot of land.
Not yet fully awake, I peaked out my window, only to find my landlord swiping his fierce electric blades across every single Crape Myrtle Tree on our fence line. And there, in the middle of the yard, another Crape Myrtle was already reduced to stumps.
I got myself as decent as I could and stormed out the back door with the rage of a Mama bear. I don’t know when I had been angrier before that moment. I pulled my knees up in a march as I proceeded toward the man who had done far more to our yard than he communicated in his messages to us on our sacred day before.
“I am SO disappointed!” I exclaimed.
He wasn’t expecting me to say that. He was expecting me to say I was so thankful.
Our conversation turned into what felt like a shouting match. I tried to communicate to him that those tall Crape Myrtles along the fence line were symbols of hope to me because they would soon cover with blooms the eyesore and heartsore of the hospital where our son was to have been born. All he heard was that the hospital was ugly. He said that he and his wife didn’t enjoy looking at it when they lived there either. But he missed the point of it all. He missed why my broken heart led my feet to march out to confront him.
I pointed to the Crepe Myrtle in the middle of the yard. It was less than six inches from the rose bush that marked our son’s grave…the rose bush we had asked him to stay far away from. He had not honored our request. He remarked that it was a pretty plant, but he missed the point.
Though he still did not understand the backings to my hurt and confrontation, he did try to console me.
“Just you wait. There will be shoots off these stumps by August.”
It was the last day of March. I didn’t believe him. And I googled it later. Google said that it would likely take three years.
I looked around what was once my beautiful yard and all I saw was destruction from a chain saw happy man who had invaded my territory with disregard.
My territory had already been invaded that year. I was sick of it. I was sick of the massacres. I was sick of all the stumps that my life had to show for it. All I wanted was the beauty of the tall branches with buds. I didn’t want the shortened pieces of wood with roots deep in the ground. They were so ugly. Nothing covered the place that reminded me of what I did not have. I just wanted…no I needed…something beautiful in my backyard to remind me of hope. I needed something I could see.
August came and brought the first anniversary of the day that I labored to deliver the remains of our son’s broken body. And with August and that anniversary, came shoots — tall shoots— from the stumps of the Crape Myrtles. The lord of this land who wounded my pierced heart was right in his predictions about what would come from what his swift blade had cut down. I couldn’t believe it.
Do you have stumps in your life leftover from unwelcome massacres?
It hurts, doesn’t it? It looks so ugly and seems like nothing beautiful could ever come from those plantings again.
The landscape of your life will never look identical to what it looked like before the things that stood tall in value were unexpectedly cut down. No, it will never look the same.
But it can look new.
Your butchered life’s landscape can take on a new kind of beauty, one that you never expected.
God knows about stumps. His chosen people made decisions that let their territory be invaded and chopped down to a stump. In His kindness, He gave those whose roots still dug deep and drank from His waters the hope of a strong, beautiful shoot that would one day bring new growth and fullness of life for them.
Some stumps are left by the choices we make, some are left by the choices others make, some stumps are left because of major pruning, and some stumps come because of a well planned, new unfolding for our landscapes.
If your roots run deep and drink from the water the Most High Lord of your life’s landscape offers, you will see shoots of new life in places that looked utterly destroyed.
I didn’t expect that I would see healthy vital signs again in the stumps of my territory. But what has sprung forth from a cut down tree has turned my eyes upward from the ugly to the unfolding of the beauty that comes from new life and deeply planted hope.
Sometimes evidence of hope is hard to find because hope doesn’t always appear tall. But it’s roots always run deep. Deep roots eventually bring tall new branches. For the roots to be deep, you have to water then.
If you watch attentively, friend, you’ll start to see the new life that can come from your places of ugly remains.
Dig your roots deep to drink in the Living Water of Jesus, friend.
And then, watch His shoot grow tall from your broken stump.
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from His roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:1-3