The far north is a place where things are pared down, taken to the lowest common denominators of life. Rock, water, sun, insects and wind. And of course, in the winter, the world is pared down even more to the denominators of snow and ice. It is a place where the word survival is never far from one’s thoughts.
During a recent trip that part of Canada, it was a marvel to me how the tiny delicate flowers of Baffin Island could survive. There is very little soil yet they spring up and cling to solid rock. Vibrant dwarf fireweed, saxifrage, anemones and the ever-present Arctic cotton abound. The tundra seemed to be in motion as they swayed in the constant wind, lifting their heads toward a far-away sun. We stepped around them, our heads bent in homage, our camera shutters clicking.
As I moved across that barren landscape I couldn’t help but think of the barren landscape of cancer I have been wandering in. The similarities are stark. There isn’t much to hang onto at times. The winds of fear and loss seem always in my face and the sun can seem oh so far away. But I stared at a bright yellow anemone and took heart. If this little one can survive in this, her desolate place, then so shall I in mine, by doing what she does season after season. Cling to the rock.
There are times in everyone’s life, in every writer’s life when this is necessary. We tend to think of these times in a negative way. As when we envision a harsh northern climate, we hear the word, cancer, and shudder. Yet there are those wildflowers. There are moments when God’s presence is so real the beauty of his grace is all that matters. There are those times when you know He’s carrying you across this barren landscape.
Our Rock is more solid and everlasting than those slowly disintegrating across the tundra. Our Rock speaks and comforts and holds our hand. Our Rock carries us when our knees buckle and cradles our head when we just need to cry. Our Rock hides us in his cleft and sets our feet on a firm foundation.
And when I “lift up my eyes to the hills,” and ask, “Where does my help come from?” He answers – “My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over you will not slumber … The Lord watches over you, the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:1-8).
If you are in a barren place in your life, medically, physically, emotionally or spiritually, take heart. You can be like those Arctic flowers – cling to the Rock.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has three devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released here. Visit Marcia’s website