There are some places that mean a tremendous amount to me.
One of those places is The House of Retreat in Pleshey (you can find out about it here www.retreathousepleshey.com). It means a lot to me because, when I am there, I spend with a wonderful group of people who hold a special place in my heart but also because it is a place of prayer.
I had the joy of spending a couple of days at Pleshey this week and during that time we had some very noisy, high powered winds that hit during the night (confession time, I was doing my well known impression of a pneumatic drill and missed the whole thing). In the local area, trees were brought down, branches and rubbish were strewn all over the place. In my own town, chimneys were damaged and a roof was blown off a pub!
The following morning, I was walking in the garden at Pleshey and snapped the quick photo of the snowdrops. As I did, I heard God whisper to me “pearls of hope” and that set me thinking…
I wanted to know what a pearl really is and so I asked a well- known search engine whose name rhymes with frugal and discovered that
Natural Pearls form when an irritant – usually a parasite and not the proverbial grain of sand – works its way into an oyster, mussel, or clam. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating, called ‘nacre’, is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed.
It really hit me that something, so beautiful, is formed out of an irritant! God can do the same, those things that hurt and are painful in our lives can, if placed into God’s hands, produce something incredible and beautiful. My own pain, hurts whether “big” or “small” can be used by God to produce something amazing.
The other thing that I began to think about was the state of the garden itself.
January can feel a bit bleak. Not much colour or variety and yet, in the midst of this barrenness God plants his little pearls of hope. Sometimes we have to stop and really look for them, other times they leap out at us. In those bleak times of our lives, God plants his little pearls of hope. Sometimes we have to stop and ask God to open our eyes so that we can see them.
After the storm the other night, I went out into my own garden and surveyed the damage! Thankfully, not much damage but you can tell that there has been some disruption. Lids off water barrels, shed door looking worse for wear, next doors fence is looking decidedly dodgy now.
Sometimes, major storms can hit our lives too. Major disruption and big damage. But, just like the snowdrops, God always plant his little pearls of hope. We just have to look for them.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12 vs. 12)