Saturday, June 17, 2017

Becoming Unordinary by SUSAN HARRIS

I just wanted an ordinary, simple life.

May 2/17. Trees bare from winter.
My gaze falls on the grove of trees that fringes the north side of our yard at our new acreage. In the height of winter I watch their bony arms raise to the heavens as if for mercy, for clothing green to cover nakedness. Being leafless though is pretty ordinary for that season.

April comes and goes, no buds, no shoots. The first week of May still gives no indication other than brown bare. 

Then suddenly it is there. Green. Although I am watching it everyday, it is only when I photograph the men at work laying the foundation for the garage that I notice how leafy and lush the grove has become. This transformation takes place in a mere ten days.  In this quick growing season, that too, is ordinary.
May 12/17. Green in ten days.
But alas, the long awaited glory is short-lived. Unbeknownst to me, and many others who thought this would not happen for another dozen years, the province is invaded by tent caterpillars. In my memory surface the plagues of the book of Exodus, the blight of the Egyptians. Prayer groups rallying around the globe on my behalf did not dent the infestation that feasted on hundreds of poplar, chokecherry and Saskatoon trees in our immediate perimeter and thousands nearby. I feel blighted too. In less than two months of living in the countryside, the joy is usurped.

For the first time the blinds on my kitchen window are pulled down against the revulsion of caterpillars in piles, caterpillars crawling, on the dirt, siding and stairs, caterpillars eeeewwww, too gross and vile to be pictured here.This is not ordinary. The history states it is an infrequent occurrence, but I’ve seen it three times in fifteen years, and twice in succession over the last two years. That's enough for my lifetime!

The grove to the north of our yard is once again desolate in the height of spring, their bony arms calling to Heaven for mercy. This is not ordinary. And imprisoned in the house, I too, weep for mercy. 
May 29/17 Leaves eaten off trees.
Garage foundation being laid.

Air attack is the only option. Spray in addition to pray. But the wind seems impervious to prayer. Eventually, on June 2 it succumbs to the calm needed for spraying and the acres are doused from above. The plague is ended. Thanks be to God, and the spraying team. 
June 2/17. Aerial spraying over the trees eaten bare.


Our help has always come from above. Lifting pleas to the Lord who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2). What ought to be the ordinary action and reaction of the Christian – turning to above- proved to be the same for the good of our trees.

My blinds up again, within  a week I notice a  greenish hue from the window. Could it be? I’m astonished, nay, astounded. How can growth rebound so quickly? 

June 12/17. Regrowth in ten days. Awesome.
The words of the prophet, Joel, ring in my ears: And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller,* and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25 KJV)

God has restored. God will restore. God is restoring. All these statements are true of the windbreak that guard our house. To see the word “caterpiller” in the KJV, to actually have been the victim of caterpillars, to see the destruction of the caterpillars and the resounding victory of the restoration, blows my mind. This is not ordinary. The hundreds of thousands of trees along the highway and surroundings are desolate. They have not regrown. This miracle is unique to our property. 

Jesus points us to the environment which we can understand, and then uses the  concrete experiences in this physical world to unfold lasting truths in the abstract, spiritual dimension. He urged His disciples and the crowd that followed Him, and us:  Look at the birds…Look at the lilies… (Matthew 6 NLT). 

June 2/17 The wildflower, Sweet Rocket in our yard,
comparable to the wildflower, Lily of the Valley.
Yellow circle shows ravaged trees.
I look... and LOOK WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE is my worshipful refrain. This wonder. Hourly, daily, each time I peer through the kitchen window I’m awed, stupefied by this resurrection unfolding before  my (incredulous) eyes, and my heart reshapes  at His doing. My spirit is tender, pregnant with  expectation of an unseen but tangible renaissance similar to what I’ve  witnessed in this snap of time.

For I know that God is a compensating God. He is a God of the making-up. The One who gives back fully. The heart-mender. The joy-giver. The body-healer. The mind-restorer.  The finance–provider. The eternal, prayer-answering Father. He who rains down favour. He who surprises us by giving far more than we could ask or think. Who takes us from being despised to being sought after. From ordinary to unordinary.

He refuses the ordinary for me because He made me to be so much more. To be unordinary. In other words to be peculiar, royal, chosen, holy, as declared in 1 Peter 2:9 KJV.  It probably grieves Him that I - we- (for He wants the same for you) settle for ordinariness, and for this I repent. 

As I ponder on the regrowth of the trees, I am willing to drop the status quo to pursue this great unordinary that He is thrusting me into. For I have looked, and convinced and convicted, I surrender to the bid of becoming unordinary.

* Emboldened text added. Note the spelling of "caterpiller" is as in the Bible.

SUSAN HARRIS is a speaker, and the author of 12 books, one of which is entitled Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are



Peter Black said...

Wow! What a horrible invasion, Susan! I've seen a number of tent caterpillar infestations in our area, but this one you describe takes the prize. I'm glad that the process of recovery and restoration came. Great post and scriptural application.~~+~~

Susan Harris said...

Nothing like I've seen before, Peter. Nothing. One lady near Saskatoon posted a video of her situation. You can check it out at the link Certainly, it's allowed me to see the power of resurrection at work and I'm excited for what is to come.

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

I like this Susan. I'm acquainted with the dratted caterpillar and its unholy work. When we lived in the north they invaded and ate every leaf. They grew back, but late. You used this to bring out a beautiful thought . . . using one of my favorite verses - He will restore what has been destroyed" - a blessed thought.

Susan Harris said...

It blesses me that the article blesses you on these levels, Rose. Now to see restoration unfold to each who believes. Thank you for engaging in the post.

Glynis said...

"My spirit is tender, pregnant with expectation of an unseen but tangible renaissance similar to what I’ve witnessed in this snap of time."
Something very close to my heart with this lovely statement, Susan.
So sorry you have had to deal with this Caterpillar Crisis (name of your next children's book, perhaps?) But thanks be to God, look at the lesson you have drawn from it all and how you are sharing it all with us now. So encouraging. Bless you as I am sure you continue to clean up.

Susan Harris said...

I'm most blessed when another can bear a witness to what I've written, Glynis. We will have to follow up up on the great expectations. And yes, God does make purpose from the ugly. Have a wonderful day, my friend.

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