When You Need to See God

It's the third week of January when I finally figure it out.

I watch the sun rise and set for days and I snap pictures with an arm stretched out the window and I wonder how all this beauty on the horizon keeps finding me again and again and again.

I think maybe it's this out-of-season weather, all these cloudless skies and no water dripping down.  Or maybe it's just me, hungry for Him and Hope, my eyes always fixed on what's outside the window as I search for Light and Life.

Or maybe it's a bit of both.

But there comes a morning in January when the truth settles deep at last and I'm knocked clean off my feet by this one thing:

I'm seeing the sun when it rises and sets because it's the dead of Winter.

The trees, they've been emptied, stripped right down to their souls.  And me, I'm looking straight through them to what's been there all along--beauty and glory and light.

Yes.  I'm seeing the sun because it's the dead of Winter.

So when I read these words on the pages of a borrowed book, the story of a life begins to make a bit of sense after all the aching months of loss and longing:

Be the Gardener of My Soul

Spirit of the Living God, be the Gardener of my soul.  For so long I have been waiting, silent and still--experiencing a winter of the soul.  But now, in the strong name of Jesus Christ, I dare to ask:
Clear away the dead growth of the past,
Break up the hard clods of custom and routine,
Stir in the rich compost of vision and challenge,
Bury deep in my soul the implanted Word,
Cultivate and water and tend my heart,
Until new life buds and opens and flowers.
~Richard J. Foster, Prayers from the Heart

The calendar page bears the name January, and this chapter of a life, I'm calling it January, too.  All the days of a year that came before, they've done their work at last--me emptied out, stripped right down to the soul, and the clutter of a heart swept clean away.

And what I didn't know until now is that I haven't been laid bare just to make room for what's to come.  I've been laid bare so that I might see God.

Yes.  I'm seeing God more clearly than ever before because it's the dead of Winter and the past's been cleared away and the hardness of a heart's been broken right apart.  And I might be just a little overwhelmed by the newness of it all, a little unsure of what really does come next.  But God, He's the one stirring in the vision and the hope, planting seeds of His Truth right down deep.

Yes, God's the Gardener of this soul of mine and He's been hard at work for a whole lifetime of days.  And He won't lose heart and He won't grow weary and He won't give up on me.

He won't give up on any of us.

And I've never been more grateful for the hard days of Winter and the One Who lays us bare.

Sharing a day late with the community over at FaithBarista.com as we ponder the word "Clutter" this week.


  1. Hi - I came over here from Faith Jam and I just want to say this is beautiful. You can hear God's voice whispering through to you.

    1. @Kim Fernando: Thanks for coming by, Kim. So lovely to share life through the Faith Jam, isn't it? Thank you for sweet words here. I wasn't sure that what I had to say this week would be meaningful to anyone but me--but I am trying to keep writing even when the words don't come easily. Thank you, so much, for the encouragement. I'll stop by your blog later today to say hello. Grace to you, Friend.

  2. Yes! So glad hope is dawning for you. This week I was also noticing that because of the bare trees I can see the birds' nests. I pray that your "refuge" also becomes more apparent in this soul winter you feel. Grace to you, dear Courtney.

    1. @tinuviel: Hello, Dear One. I apologize for the delay in replying to your comment here...it's been a bit stormy this week, and I don't mean the weather (well, that's been a bit stormy, too, I guess :o). Thank you for the reminder to look even closer in winter days, to find His beauty nestled (or nested?) right in amongst the days and weeks of barrenness. And your prayers are being answered, right here in one of the hardest weeks. Finding refuge when everything's fallen right apart. Thank you, always, for prayers and grace across all these state lines. You are on my heart, Dear One. Always.

  3. hi Courtney!

    sorry to have been away from your blog for a bit--not because of anything as fun as a trip to italy, but because of an unusually relentness crush of work, that i *hope* is letting up...the only compensation of being away is that there's multiple posts when i come back.

    i very much resonate to the idea that emptying down/stripping out/laying bare comes before being filled up/made to bear fruit. because we can only one life at a time, not two, we can't be born to new life in Christ, unless we die to self and world first. but it's easy to lose heart, when life seems to be all loss and no gain; i'm so thankful that hard-heartedness is "broken right apart" and hope and vision--as well as dogged faith--are getting you through the hard days of winter!

    praying you'll abound in grace--


    1. @chris: Welcome back, Friend! I've missed you here and I'm glad the crush seems to be letting up at least a bit. I pray you will continue to find room to breathe in the weeks ahead.

      "only one life at a time." Oh, what truth! The being born anew in Christ, it can't come before the death of everything that came before. Yes.

      Thank you for perspective. Though progress often seems slow in the trenches, it's an encouragement when friends look over and offer a bit of the view from outside the hand-to-hand combat that sometimes makes up the daily faith life. You are Grace and Gift, Friend, and I am so grateful.