Reflections by Dot Cutter — April 2019

Out on a hiking trail one glorious day in early spring, I suddenly became aware of something uncomfortable in my hiking boot. The trails were soft and muddy with no place to sit down and investigate the problem. Knowing I’d be unable to balance on one foot, I tried moving the offending object around with my toes as I continued my trek through the woods. But every few steps it moved itself back into position where it really hampered my walk and distracted me from taking in the beauty around me. Eventually a downed tree came into view and I exhaled in relief as it provided a spot to untie that boot. The pebble I found was so small as to hardly qualify as such. Yet the trouble it had caused already revealed a developing blister. How could that be? Thanking God for the Band-aid I carried in my jacket pocket, I repaired the damage and happily continued my jaunt, enjoying the emergence of spring, the songbirds in the trees, the bursting forth of trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit, the search for beavers at the pond.

Over the next several days that pebble came to mind numerous times for a blister was only part of the problem. It had also caused a small puncture wound and apparently bruised the underlying tissue, causing me to favor that foot while it healed. Periodically I silently grumbled at the inconvenience and I muttered to myself, “How could such a small pebble cause so much distress?” In time it healed and I forgot about it until one day, not long ago, I began seeing “pebbles” of all sizes, shapes, and colors—some smooth, others sharp—but where I turned there they were: on pathways, in landscaping, mosaic floors, inlaid countertops, decorative housewares, inlaid pillars, driveways, embedded in concrete patios, along riverbanks and streambed bottoms as spawning grounds, even in photos of a few beaches! I was being bombarded with pebbles. What was going on?

I soon realized it was not what, but Who? Once again God was speaking to me. So I listened and pondered, gaining some insights into how He calls us to respond to annoyances, uncomfortable situations, and even physical discomfort. And suddenly, in a flash, it hit me! God uses these things for His redemptive purposes. He brings beauty out of ashes – but we have to be willing to see it. We usually only see what we look for! He brings joys and contentment in the midst of trials and hardship. But we have to look for them, too. Sometimes they are right under our noses. We have a choice to either continue to complain about our condition or pause to look for the songbird singing in the thicket. He brings provision out of lack, but we may have to be open to change that we have previously rejected. He mends relationships but we may first have to extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness, even if we never receive the deserved apology. He replaces pebbles of anger, resentment, and bitterness with love but we have to be willing to release those emotions to Him. The bottom line was: drop those pebbles from your hand into the pond. Our “containers” can hold just so much and the overflow reveals what is really there. Jesus is with us, wanting to release us from captivity.

Are there “pebbles” in the bottom of our hearts that are hindering our witness to others? Referring to the ministry of the coming Messiah, Isaiah 61:1-3 provides wonderful hope:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (Jesus), because the Lord has anointed me to bring
good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim
liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who
mourn in Zion, giving them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness
instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, so they will be
called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Spring has arrived! May God’s resurrection life spring forth in our lives as well.

Blessings in Christ,
Dot Cutter