“So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.”
These charming lovelies are a variety of clematis called ‘Ville de Lyons’.
Aren’t they pretty?
They have an interesting habit. They grow by sending out twiny tendrils that sneak around twigs or branches – or fenceposts, in this case. Those tiny little tendrils – mere strings in girth – weave their magic, climbing and clinging to whatever surface they can.
They can be mighty stubborn.
I’ve tried to gently release them from the folds of a cranberry bush adjacent to their home turf, but it’s tough work. Just when you think you finally released a stalk in twelve places, you realize it is held fast by another twenty further down the line.
Good grip, for sure.
But – it has weak knees. Most of the growth is up at eye level. It can have thirty or more blooms at once, so it gets pretty top heavy. Once it’s grip has been broken, there is nothing to hold it up.
It can snap in two like a toothpick.
Ever feel like that?
Like life has been slowly chipping away at you, prying your fingers one by one off the fence post? Like if you ever let those last two fingers go, you might just fall right off the face of the earth, and snap off at the knees?
I know you have.
I felt it this very week, to be honest.
But I know something very helpful – call it a trade secret.
I know from my friend the clematis that it is stress, need, that produces all those tendrils. The windy days encourage the plant to do more to hold itself up. And the more vines that are produced, the more flowers.
In the same way, we get a grip on life when we are challenged. Hard pressed. Shaken up.
Stressed a little.
But unlike our flowery friend pictured above, I don’t need to rely on my own will power, my own Herculean effort to keep my life propped up.
When I am under stress, it sure helps to remind myself that where I end, God begins. And when my fingers slip and slide and I’m afraid I’ve lost the battle, the truth that He has already won on my behalf sure helps me get a grip.
The important thing isn’t really how good my grip is – even though I can definitely improve with practice.
It’s what – in this case, Who – I hold onto when in crisis that really counts.
Because I belong to a big God, I can head into a challenging day knowing I am held. I know He has my back. I know that what I learn when things get tough will become a treasure trove when the process of refining has run its course.
I don’t like challenges.
I’d like to just have sun and sand and a breeze from the ocean.
But my Head Gardener knows that my best won’t be drawn out if I never have to problem solve. Never have to adjust my thinking, make mistakes, or taste defeat. Never have to figure out where my limits are.
Never have to admit I can’t do it alone…
So, my friend, stand tall.
To Jesus, that is.
Get a grip on Jesus – and grow beautiful with me?
Father, life squeezes and pulls and wears away until we feel that we just can’t hold on for one more second. How grateful I am that You promise that in the trials of life, there You are – and You can make us beautiful as we learn to cling to Your truth and strength. Amen.