You slowly wind around the black paved driveway, pull through the main brick gate, and reach the front grounds. Natural beauty explodes before you: manicured, lush lawns; countless colorful displays of petunias, roses, and day lilies; fence rows neatly trimmed; trickling brooks and spraying fountains, cast iron benches, marble statues amidst pebble ground covers, white canopies and wooden trellises, fruit trees and birdfeeders, and not one weed to be found.
Sighting thoroughbred horses in the distance dotted across miles of green and yellow Kentucky oceans, you breathe deeply of freshly cut grass while the spring sun warms your skin.
Driving over the railroad tracks to the back forty, suddenly you are met with quite a different atmosphere. Oh, the overarching beauty lingers, but reality has a way of settling in and providing ample opportunity for contrast. Blooming weeds are everywhere, the barn and out-shed are falling over, and the gravel lane could use a bit more gravel. Dust hangs in the air, and a stray, scrawny dog darts away when he hears you bumping down the lane.
Same property. Same owner. Same day.
As I considered such disparity, I thought about how we are no different. We paint a crystal-clear public persona, an attractive picture of ourselves and our lives for others to behold. We are prim, we are proper, and we have our acts together. We smile and nod at acquaintances as if our lives were rosy and squeaky clean. Our ducks are in a row, the bills are paid before they're due, and there's a blackberry cobbler baking in the oven.
In this young blog, would it surprise you to note that the two posts that have received the lion's share of hits compared to the others were about Suffering and Tribulation? Our lives appear superficially pristine, almost effortless successes, yet under the surface they are riddled with pain, angst, discontentment, and hunger.
Christian, whom do you invite into your back forty? Is your energy spent attempting to please God or man? Who knows you and loves you anyway? With whom do you reveal yourself? Who holds you accountable? Does anyone acknowledge your defeat and despair? Your fears and misgivings? Who is there to help you trim the weeds and gravel the lane? How many invitations have you received lately to stroll through someone else's back yard?
Take down your guard and get busy in the back forty. It is there that God will meet you. It is there others will know whose Spirit is at work in you. And before you know it, your back forty becomes God's resting place. Your whole life declares sight of God's goodness, glory, grace, and provision--the "Garden of Eden" notwithstanding.
As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him,
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