I’ve been to some very beautiful places. I’ve been snorkeling in Cozumel. I’ve been on the white sand beaches of Aruba. I’ve hiked mountains and witnessed beautiful views. But even though I’ve been to some beautiful places, if I were going to share with you my most life defining moments, I wouldn’t take you to any of these places. They didn’t happen there. I find that quite funny because we often put a lot of emphasis on beautiful places being our most memorable moments in life - like a bucket list or a highlight reel of our life.
But if I were going to share with you the most life-defining moments of my life, they all have their genesis in some pretty ugly or mundane places. I would take you to the back bedroom of my childhood home and show you the place I kneeled next to my bed day after week after month praying for deliverance. I would take you to the sixth pew from the back of the church where I stood broken before the Lord and he answered me by raising my hands to the ceiling. I would take you to the cold concrete floor of my unfinished basement where I sat and cried to the Lord because of a brutal betrayal that left me spiritually and emotionally wounded and the Holy Spirit showed up.
I was thinking about this the other day - how the most life-defining moments I’ve had are not the high places, but the low places, and why is that? And there can only be one reason - The Lord. He can take our low places and turn them around into launching pads that cause us to soar. He can take our low places and make them gardens.
We’ve heard Garth Brooks say “I’ve got friends in low places”, but I want you to know that you have a friend in low places too, and it’s the Lord.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. …” John 15:4-5
Much of scripture points us to the image of the Lord as a gardener. We’ve often heard God referred to as the Lord of the Harvest. We know that human life started in the Garden of Eden. We know that Jesus used many parables of plants and gardening to explain things to his followers, like the parable of the sower and the mustard seed. We know that the Holy Spirit is referred to as Living Water and one of the names of Jesus is The True Vine.
These references from scripture can offer us much comfort when we find ourselves in a low place. Here are three things to remember when we find ourselves in a low place...
First, when we are in a low place with God it is not going to stay a low place.
What a wonderful truth to hold onto, friends! Without the Lord, low places are often just that - low places. You may have had plenty of low places. But when we invite the Lord into them, they become something more. Low places are fertile ground when the Lord is involved. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The Lord works through our low places and is able to bring something good out of it. The God who took the dust and breathed life into it creating humankind, is the same God who can take your low place and make something beautiful out of it or make it the launching place to something greater than you imagine.
Second, God will often dig up things that need to be dug up in us.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2
God often uses low places as a time to dig something up in us. I think one of the reasons for this is because during low places we are more apt to lean on God. We are often more teachable in low places because we are at the end of our rope and more prone to reach up for him. During the lowest places of my life, God has dug up and revealed things about myself that I didn’t know were there, like pride, lies I believed, attitudes I had, and reliance on self rather than God. Often this digging up is uncomfortable, but it is necessary for our growth.
Third, God will plant something in you and he will water it.
Low places are growing places when we do them with the Lord. God will plant seeds in us and he will water them. As we walk with the Lord, they will grow. But during this growing season, we have a choice to make. We can hinder this growth or we can yield to the Spirit and be teachable. If we lean in and pursue God in our low places, we will bear fruit in time.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:25