It was early on Saturday morning when I first saw the weary homeowner. He stood alone in front of his stately residence, resting on his shovel to catch his breath. Not even ten o'clock and he was already tired from tedious work of spreading the mountain of mulch spanning the length and width of his double wide driveway.
"I know what you'll be doing this weekend," I called out as Pippy, Molly and I scooted past the house on our morning walk.
The owner laughed and shook his head. "This weekend? If I'm lucky!"
Without much thought I shot back with a word of encouragement. "Keep your head up, it'll go faster than you think!"
I didn't think much about that pile of mulch until later that afternoon when Pippy, Molly and I set out on another walk. Out of curiosity for the progress of the mulch pile I decided to take the same route I had that morning. Sure enough, the home owner was still in his yard, shovel in hand, but this time he wasn't alone. He had called in reinforcements - two to be exact. One hardy helper was covered in dirt, knee deep in a flower bed while another made trips between the yard and the mulch pile with a shovel of his own. When the homeowner saw the dogs and I coming he paused in his driveway and pointed his shovel at the pile. "Looks like we've barely even touched it, doesn't it?"
He was right. The pile still looked gigantic but to maintain my encouraging attitude I told him I could see progress. He didn't seem to buy my optimism and neither did his weary workers.
It wasn't until the next evening that I thought about that man and his mulch. The weekend was nearly over and I wondered if he had "lucked" out by clearing the driveway by sundown on Sunday. I clipped the dogs on their leashes and headed out to get my answer.
As we made our way down the steep descent of the hilly Pittsburgh neighborhood the mulch house should have come into view. It was right at the bend, I was sure of it, but the mulch driveway was no where to be found. I nearly forgot which house had been delivered the mountain of dirt just the day before until I caught the glimpse of the most pristine yard in all the neighborhood.
At the house where the mulch pile once loomed big and dirty in the driveway was a yard of beauty. The mountain had been transformed into a lush lawn boasting immaculate flower beds. The bushes were lovingly tucked into the rich soil. The blooms were bursting in all of their vibrant color against a blanket of freshly cultivated earth.
And the driveway was spotless.
I couldn't help but stop and stare. I was awe struck not so much by the bushes or the flowers but by the transformation. Overnight a mess had turned into a masterpiece. In one weekend a dirt pile had become a garden oasis. With three sets of hands and two shovels a mountain had been leveled and the pavement swept clean so that not even a stray shed of bark remained.
I needed to see that driveway full of dirt become a yard of beauty because I needed to be reminded that God makes masterpieces out of messes.
In my life I have mountains of mulch, gigantic challenges that look to me like sure defeat. I don't see how they will ever be moved. I can't imagine that they will ever be cleared away. The task looks to tedious. My shovel is too small, my arms are too weak and the weekend is too short.
But God's shovel is bigger. His arms are stronger. His weekend is just the right length of time. He can move my mountain. He can clear away the driveway of my life of even the messiest of challenges.
What's more, is that when God is done moving the mountain of mulch He accomplishes a task more profound than making the pavement clear. He makes the yard beautiful, too. He enriches my life with beauty. Through the daunting trials and overwhelming challenges, God creates His most glorious masterpieces and reveals His most awe-inspiring transformations.
In the mulch pile I saw my life as it is today. I have a mess but, shovel-full by shovel-full, God is clearing it away. The work is underway and, although it may not be complete by sundown this Sunday, it will be done just in time for the big reveal. In God's perfect time the yard of my life will be transformed into a garden oasis rich in His goodness, bursting forth for His glory.
Because God is faithful and true to His promises, I know that His work of mountain moving is underway even now. I just need to keep my head up because, faster than I can imagine, this mountain will be gone and all that will remain is the most amazing testimony I could have never planted without all the mulch.