Futile. When my fingers grow weary of tracing the silver lining, this is the word that dances through my heart and mind.
For my boys, classrooms once filled with collaboration and creativity have collapsed into packets of worksheets that often feel futile.
Last night, after putting our youngest to bed, we ripped open a wall that I had carefully painted last week only to find more mold. I went to bed with a few tears hitting the pillow as the word futility seemed to sink into my already-heavy heart.
Perhaps we are not the only ones who feel like they are facing down futility. When every day feels like more of the same and there is no clear light at the end of the quarantine tunnel, futility feels like it is leaking into the crevices of every part of our lives. Small business owners wonder if their efforts to move online and create a sustainable niche are futile. Teachers wonder if their efforts to make learning through a screen engaging and interactive are futile.
Today, I am fighting to bring all the seeming futility into his presence and place it all into his hands. I am fighting to trust in my heart what I know in my mind to be true: anything and everything placed into his thoughtful care can become fertile. If a master gardener can use most anything in his or her compost pile, slowly letting even decaying matter turn into an active fertilizer and growth agent, then we have great hope that the Master and Maker of the universe can turn even futility into fertility.
Mold-infested walls and a disrupted, crowded home can become growth agents in the lives of our family. I have had tunnel vision for three weeks, working overtime beside my husband to try to bring order into our disordered home. But this morning, I am having to entrust even those seemingly futile efforts to him. Perhaps living in the midst of a construction zone will be more fruitful in their souls than the ordered safe haven I have been frantically trying to restore for them.
My ways are not his ways. His ways are so much higher and deeper and more mysterious than the plans I draw in pencil and then try to solidify with Sharpie. I long for smooth sailing, but the Lord has concocted quite the perfect storm for us these past few weeks. I have tried to fight the waves, but now that I am tired, I am asking him to teach me how to float. Floating requires a calm, trusting spirit, not a sinewy resolve. The latter comes much more naturally to me than the former.
Often times, God seems to have his people march around the perimeter of the impossible, exposing their apparent futility. He had Abraham and Sarah sit long in their infertility. He commanded Moses to camp the escaping Israelites right beside the Red Sea. He had Joshua march his rag tag, exposed troop around the formidable walls of an established and fortified city. He had the disciples stare at a crowd teeming with growling tummies. He let Lazarus’s corpse sit in a tomb for days. He did not call in legions of angels to get his Son down from an instrument of shame.
He did these things, not to subject us to futility, but to showcase his fertility. He is the Master of Life. He speaks and things become. Marching around the perimeter of what seems impossible, we are forced to lift our eyes to him for whom nothing is impossible! In God’s time, Abraham’s aged arms cradled Isaac. In a moment, the sea parted and God’s people proceeded through on dry ground. Impenetrable walls fell at the sound of horns as God’s people watched in wonder and amazement. A little boy’s lunch was multiplied in the hands of Christ to feed the crowds. Lazarus stepped out of the tomb pointing to the day when Christ would walk out of the tomb as the first fruits of Resurrection life!
Oh, that our eyes would be fixed on the fertile one rather than the seeming futility of this season, whatever it looks like for each of us.