I remember praying for our new, as yet unknown to us, neighbours. We got along well with the former residents, but when they decided to move out of the community, the possibility of good, bad or indifferent replacements loomed large.
With shared lawns and no fence between our properties, I longed for a continuance of the peaceful relationship we'd enjoyed. Our prayers have been answered, and well beyond our expectations.
I should explain that although there is no barrier between our properties, Isabelle does have a fence around her backyard garden. It's fairly tall, fairly sturdy (although it did fail to deter a marauding bear attracted by her compost pile), and it hosts a lot of great vegetables.
Walking down the back lane the other day I noticed that three beautiful squash vines had crept through that fence and deposited their fruit on the grass beside the pavement. Rooted in the fertile soil, they survived and flourished outside the security of the wooden enclosure.
I've been thinking about that for several days, comparing it with life. How many times have we found ourselves without the comfort or security of the familiar? How often have circumstances rendered us feeling fearful or alone? Who hasn't wrestled with the pain or despair that accompanies the loss of someone or something dear to us?
The lesson of hope is simple but profound: as we place our trust in God, not even the barriers of our circumstances can stop us from continuing to grow and produce "fruits unto righteousness."
"You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him." (2 Samuel 22:29-31)