I don’t know what to do!
I was recently showing a friend around my small orchard. I am proud of the trees my husband and I have nurtured and the abundance of fruit they are producing after all the rain we have had. However, there was one tree that had several leaves starting to curl on the edges in an unusual fashion and I felt concerned.
I simply said to my friend “I don’t know what to do. Can you help me understand what is causing the leaves to curl and how I can help my tree?”
The advantage of expert advice
Fortunately my friend is a horticulturalist and understood exactly what was happening as nutrients in the soil had been washed away with the recurrent storms we had experienced. My friend was able to describe the type of fertilizer I would need to resolve the issue and how best to care for my stressed tree that had taken the brunt of the storms.
Wisdom from the land, wisdom from the mouth of Jesus
I often find that wisdom learned on the land becomes a metaphor for God lessons in other areas of my life. I guess that is why so many of the parables Jesus told had to do with nature. He knew they would be stories we could all relate to and use as helpful analogies for other areas of our lives. I have found my orchard experience with my wise friend has helped me think more about my relationships in this season.
The challenges of these last few years has been like a series of unseasonal storms and has left some of us rather washed out.
Although we have all lived through the experiences, some have felt the brunt and grief of the storms more deeply than others. I have noticed that my friends have continued to produce the beautiful fruit of kindness during this time.
However, there has been so many losses small and large.
Hope when we are feeling washed out
The substance that has nurtured our spirits has been washed out by the grief of it all. For many there has begun a turning inward, surprising relational tensions, harshness and conflict. Metaphorically, some of our relationships have experienced “leaf curl”.
Some of us have come to the point where we are walking around the names of our relationships in prayer and coming to one relationship where we say to God “I don’t know what to do.”
If that is you, as it has been me, I am so sorry that it has been hard. I do want to tell you there is hope. The words of the Bible have become like a good friend helping me understand that the problem is not the obvious harsh words spoken, but rather the lack of nourishment.
In Matthew 5:9 it says the peacemakers will be blessed and be called God’s children.
I am sure like me you want to be a peacemaker in this world.
As I have invested in exploring more about what it means to be a peacemaker today, I have learned that compassion is key. Proverbs 5:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stirs up anger.” It is easier to give a gentle answer if I have waited and listened with compassion to the other person first.
I am still learning and find that being involved with PeaceWise helps me stay connected to the learning journey of becoming a peacemaker who begins with being a compassionate listener to the underlying grief people are carrying, while I also get help to tend the grief in my own life.
Kath is co-founding pastor of Northridge Vineyard church with her husband Phil. They have 2 adult children and are happy grandparents. Kath and Phil are PeaceWise trainers and are mentors / spiritual directors for leaders in Christian ministry.