We’ve been putting it off for a few months…knowing that the back border needs tackling in our garden. One tree dead and another overgrown conifer trespassing onto the patio. So last Wednesday we set at the task. My wife cutting the small branches and I doing the heaver labour, armed with small loppers and a spade.
We went through a gamut of thoughts over the next two hours. ‘It’s not so hard, just some small trees….oh, these branches are bigger than we thought…the loppers won’t go through this…maybe we should get a professional in…we won’t give up yet…don’t know how all this foliage will fit in the car…phew the branches are off, now for the roots…they won’t budge…at all…excavating around the tree…snipping off the small roots…no movement…can’t see what’s holding it…ah, some big ones now…one by one…it’s shifting…round the other side…chopping wearily now…loosening…sheer brute force now…over and on its side…one last tug…out!’
Well we’ll think twice about breezily taking on such trees again (I strained some forearm tendons in the process!) but we did it. There was, and is, great satisfaction about overcoming challenges that seem bigger than us. Whether it is a work project, or rocky patch in a marriage, or financial struggle or longstanding fear, with God’s help we can find reserves of determination, love, hope and faith to conquer things we thought impossible.
Jesus encouraged faith that could take on huge challenges – “say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Matthew 17v20). I don’t think Jesus was meaning easy faith, for he himself wrestled in prayer at different occasions. But he did mean overcoming faith. As the elderly apostle John wrote, ‘everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith’ (1 John 5v4).
We will enjoy a better view down the garden, and decisions about new shrubbery now. And in other aspects of life conquering challenges through faith and perseverance opens up the way for new growth and opportunities. What might God be encouraging you to tackle and overcome in this season of your life?