I don't like hard things.
I wish I did. I wish I could say I look forward to a battle, that I relish the challenge of something that pushes me to my limits. But I don't. I like things that turn out exactly how I envisioned them or even better. I like it when everything falls right into place and goes according to my plans. When I can accomplish my goals and see progress being made in realizing my dreams. I like beauty, laughter, peace and smooth waters. I consistently avoid sad movies and books. I like happy endings.
But life doesn't stay in these cozy, safe parameters I set up for it and I am certain you have found the same to be true as well.
There are times, many times, when we find ourselves in places we would rather not be. Hard places. Places where the opposite of what we have planned for and desired comes rushing in as our new reality. Places where our voice seems silenced and our name seems forgotten. Where we look around us and have a difficult time piecing back together what used to be our dreams out of the rubble that lies at our feet.
I don't like these hard places, and my guess is neither do you.
But I am learning to treasure them, because I am finding out they are full of treasure, these places I would never choose to go to.
They are full of His priceless, matchless presence - the presence of the One who promises "I will be with you" in the raging rivers and the blazing fire. (Is. 43:2) And wherever His presence is, even and especially in the midst of our hard, painful places, it transforms those places into holy ground.
Moses bumped into holy ground somewhere in the middle of nowhere, after his life came crashing down abruptly and he ran away from everything he had ever known. But God knew where he was and arranged a surprise meeting where all of Moses' claims about who he wasn't and what he couldn't do were answered with a gentle but firm reminder he was standing in the presence of I AM. (Ex. 3) Hagar's holy ground was in a desert, on the side of a road. She was pregnant, unmarried, unwanted and completely on her own. But after her conversation with God, she knew two things: this was a Living God and He saw her. (Gen. 16:13) David learned to recognize holy ground even in the valley of the shadow, where he could sing out he had no fear of evil because the Lord his shepherd was with him and was restoring his soul. (Ps. 23)
God is present at all times and in all places. There is no place that can bar His presence, nor season of our lives that He does not preside over. But when we can recognize we are standing on holy ground even though, and especially when, our hearts might be breaking, our health may be failing, or our dreams might be dying, there is something that begins to build in our souls that is worth more than gold.
There is a knowing of God that you just can't gain sitting in straight rows in a classroom, but only in the trenches. There is a knowing of yourself - that you are broken, weak, and not at all what you desperately want others to believe you are - AND IT IS OKAY because God has always known we are all smoldering wicks and bruised reeds. And there is a knowing of God's goodness that you can never fully grasp until everything seems like it is falling apart and you find that even when it does, He still has you, still loves you, and THAT IS ENOUGH.
Hard places always lead to holy ground when we have the courage to keep walking forward. And then we find that He was already there ahead of us, waiting with His arms full of grace, strength, and treasure.
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