Jesus, Dig Me Out of These Weeds

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By Anika Ortiz | Instagram: @anikacortiz

Since we live near rivers, my husband, Matt, thought having a canoe sounded lovely. I agreed. Just not this one! The holes in the hull confirmed my suspicion that this boat would sink the moment it met water. The peeled blue paint and the nails poking where the railings used to lay, made my eyes cross, contemplating the arduous workload it would require. It was ours if we wanted it, but I turned my back and left it right there.

I walked away. It was simply too much work.

But after thinking about it for a week, I eventually came to the same conclusion as Matt and imagined sailing on rivers in our new canoe. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, and I’d need to release control of my timing in the repair process.

The next week we brought ropes and bungee chords to where the sun-scorched canoe rested. We traipsed through knee-high itchy grass to find the dilapidated frame. We awkwardly loaded its heavy brokenness on top of the car, drove it home and laid it to rest on our backyard’s grass.

Hours upon hours were spent resurrecting this canoe. Our grass provided a soft landing for fiberglass shards, and goggles covered Matt’s eyes as he chiseled the sides, sanded the railings and delicately stroked red paint over the blue. Finally after two long years, The Red Rose, as we affectionately named her, made her debut.

The radiant sun shone on her, and the red reflected off the water. As I climbed inside the swaying canoe and grabbed my oars, I couldn’t help but think about the process to get to this point.

Our hearts can feel like this canoe: abandoned, isolated and overtaken by weeds. When battered rains have swept over us for far too long, we don’t know how to rewrite the story. But we’re not meant to stay there, and we can’t do it alone.

Six years ago I found myself in a season of darkness. Literally and figuratively. Light triggered daily ocular migraines, creating spotty vision and temporary blindness with flashing lights. The migraines came out of nowhere, lasted about 30 minutes and were debilitating and freaky.

The first one happened a few minutes after landing in Haiti for a short-term mission trip and paralyzed me with fear as my vision disappeared. After returning from Haiti, the only way to avoid the sun that summer was to close the shades, stay indoors and hide from the very thing my heart desired and needed the most: Light.

The weeds of fear began to grow. And grow. And grow. Choking abundant life.

While medical tests to figure out the cause proved empty, my journal pages quickly filled as tears dropped onto the honest paper, and prayers of desperation rang from the deepest recesses of my being.

It was in one of those vulnerable, broken times where I just stopped. I stopped trying to understand. I stopped figuring it out. I stopped pleading for my circumstances to change, and instead peeled open my clenched fist and started thanking Jesus for even this.

In that moment, I felt the tender hands of Jesus dig me out of the weeds, throw me over his shoulders, and begin restoring what was broken. 

My circumstances didn’t change for a while, but my view of them turned upside down. And in that way, everything changed.

Promise after promise took root, diminishing fear’s ugly power with each stroke of truth.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” —Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

“But the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” —2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” —Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

The last time we took The Red Rose for a glide on the river, she bubbled a bit by our feet. Of course I thought we were about to sink into the murky waters and imagined myself swimming back to shore. But the bubbles were simply a warning to check the boat’s heart. We scooped the leaking water, and my oar cut into the river as we rowed back to shore to patch her. I earnestly watched the bubbles and simultaneously checked my heart, searching for places I needed Jesus’ healing hands to patch wounds and restore.

When grace breathes new life, our brokenness turns into a display of beauty. Not for our glory, but for his. And when the bubbles return once again, which they will, we remain in the loving hands of Jesus. He is our lifeline who never turns his back or walks away from us.

We are never, ever too much work for him.

______________________

About Anika:

I’m a wife to my husband, Matt, a mama to three lovely souls and am fully immersed in the chaotic beauty of middle school life and toddlerhood. Right after our nuptials, we moved to Kenya where I taught and was taught by the beautiful lives I met. Now we live in Oregon where we restore homes and enjoy the green trees, winding rivers and endless trails. You’re welcome to come alongside life’s journey with me on Instagram @anikacortiz or on my blog at www.anikaortiz.com

 

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