Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The West Sun

During my first summer here in Texas, I learned about the “West Sun”. In my opinion, this is the hottest sun known to mankind. Soon after moving here, I was at a drum corps rehearsal on a particularly sunny afternoon in July when some poor corps member said, “Where are we rehearsing? The face of the sun?” In fact, it gets so hot here that there are many rules in place for any school activities that practice outside in order to keep kids safe from the scorching heat of the West Sun. To sum it up, the afternoon summer sun in Texas is HOT- fryin’ an egg on the concrete kind of hot.


And unfortunately for me, my house faces the West Sun. Which means you can’t touch the handle on my front door after 2pm without being branded. But for me, even more unfortunate than accidental branding is the annual death of my garden. Every year, my garden is baked in the West Sun. I live in a cookie cutter neighborhood where all home owners are expected to keep up their gardens and landscaping. We are supposed to plant flowers and make it look nice and good and suburbanish. Oddly enough, I enjoy the challenge and try to live up to these expectations, but the West Sun has thwarted me at every turn during my seven year tenure here in Texas. Every spring, I go to the garden store with renewed hope that this will be the year. This time, I will find the plants that will grow and flourish on the face of the sun. This will be the year my garden will thrive instead of bake. And every year, the newly-planted flowers succumb to the heat and hand their lives over to the West Sun. It’s very frustrating.

So, over the years, I have gone head to head with the West Sun. And each year, I think of new ways to battle this unrelenting warrior. In the early years, I had an important weapon in my arsenal- water. Before the reign of water restrictions, I was able to let my sprinkler system water my garden every day. And this was a big help. This allowed the flowers to survive through the end of July. However, when the water restrictions were imposed, I was forced to water the garden by hand either in the early morning or evening. Because I am a busy mom, this didn’t always happen, and the garden was baked by the beginning of July. Since the water restrictions, I have not come up with any more solutions to keep the plants alive, and so every summer by the 4th, my garden is a flower graveyard- a sad sacrifice to the West Sun.

But this year, something strange has been happening. As always, I planted the “full sun” plants this spring with renewed hope. And as soon as the summer West Sun shone hot in the June sky, the plants started to succumb, and my hope faded. But then, it started to rain. We have been in this tropical weather pattern for a few weeks now, and the clouds and rain have chased the West Sun away to tolerable levels. And the flowers are starting to recover. I have never seen a recovery in my garden, and I am at a loss for words. But the whole point of this overly long diatribe about the salvation of my baking garden is this: the garden could not be saved by any solutions I could come up with, but rather the unlikely and somewhat miraculous event of extended tropical weather in North Texas.

As I have walked on this road less traveled, I have struggled a bit in my prayer life. I have to admit that I lacked trust in God. I did not like to pray for specific things because I did not want to be disappointed when they didn’t come to pass. I didn’t want the evidence of unanswered prayers to shake my faith in my Creator. I didn’t want to be tested in this way. But then I discovered that if I didn’t trust God with my specific problems, then I was keeping myself from growing in Him. If I don’t ask God for the water, then how can I bloom into the beautiful flower He longs to see in His garden?

So, I tried it. I stepped out of the boat and immediately sank in the water. I specifically prayed for the resolution of some financial issues my husband and I were having, and the specific resolution did not come to pass. My fear of unanswered prayer was realized. But it didn’t shake my faith like I thought it would. After I let go of the anger and went to reconciliation, I heard His voice tell me “stop giving me solutions and just let me have the problem. Trust that I have the solution.”

So, I have been mulling this over. And I have realized that we cannot go to God with our problems along with a list of solutions He is allowed to choose from. God does not work that way. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows the best way to work something out so that we will be able to see Him better and walk that much closer to Him. He already knows the end and His goal is to draw us closer to Him so we can feel His love and peace as we live this life to that end. And that is what I have to have faith in.

I must trust. I must trust God with my specific problem and then trust that He has a specific solution. I can’t go to Him asking for fewer restrictions with water so that I may water the garden, but I must go to Him asking Him to nourish the dying flowers in the best way He sees fit. My prayer must be for Him to change my heart to His will and to open my mind to His ways. I must give up my desires and trust that the desires He has for me are greater than I can imagine. When I find His will, then the miracle of tropical rain will wash away the dust and help me see the world from His perfect perspective. I must trust.