The trellis itself is a lattice of thick metal wires called a “cow panel,” used for the gate portion of pasture fence. A cow isn’t even going to bend it, much less push through it. The panel was stood on end and woven through a piece of twenty foot antenna mast set five feet deep into the ground. The fifteen feet above ground was held steady by nylon cord tied to two nearby trees.
The jasmine had already been growing five years, twisting its way up the fifteen feet of lattice work, and hanging over the top at least four feet. Most of the blooms were bunched near the top every year, the sides down toward the bottom thinner in both leaf and blossom. Still that huge vine was a beauty every spring and its scent often wafted on the breeze a good fifty feet away.
Then last summer, after the spring blooms had been spent, an afternoon thunderstorm blew through. Winds gusting up to forty miles an hour bore down on our property, littering the yard with limbs and twigs, moss and air plants. Afterward, we walked the place mentally adding up the hours of clean-up in our future. Then we headed down the drive and when we passed the two azaleas and two young oaks announcing the beginning of our yard, we saw the jasmine.
The two cords had snapped from the tension the winds had put on them and then the mast had simply bent over in a salaam toward the wood pile. It wasn’t broken or even creased, just bowed in an arc. The weight of that vine simply couldn’t stand on its own against the gusts. The “top” of the trellis now hung only a foot or so off the ground. Keith got beneath it and tried to stand it up, but the weight was too much for him alone. It would take at least two men pushing, while a truck pulled with a rope.
A few days later, before we had had a chance to do anything about it, we walked out again and discovered new growth all over the “side” of the jasmine vine, the side that was now the “top.” It looked like the vine would not only survive, but thrive. So we found a section of 8 inch PVC pipe that would stand on its end six feet high, and used it to prop the end of the bent trellis.
Within a few weeks the shoots on the vine were thickening all over the new top, and dangling off the sides. It was obvious we would no longer have a fifteen foot tall sentinel welcoming guests, but a fifteen foot long hedge four feet high would do just as nicely.
This past spring white blossoms covered the entire length of it, not just the mass at the end that used to be the top. The white was almost solid because the blooms were so thick and on some mornings you could smell it all the way across the field.
We don’t realize it, but the times when the storms of life hit us, are often the times our faith and strength shows best. When a trellis stands on its own on a calm day, so what if the vine blooms? Would we expect otherwise? But when the storm comes and the trellis is damaged, yet it not only continues to support the vine the best it can, but the blooms actually increase, now that’s worth noticing.
When life is easy, of course we can stay faithful. Isn’t that what Satan said about Job? But when a trial comes along, how we handle it can be a far more powerful witness of Christ in us than any service we might have given, any class we might have taught, any check we might have offered. Just like that bent over jasmine, our blooms will show brighter and influence more people when we faithfully endure the worst Satan flings at us.
Are you dealing with a storm in your life? Don’t think your usefulness to God and his people is finished. Don’t think that because some servant of Satan blew you over that you have lost your value. How you handle it, the fact that you keep on standing for the Lord, even if a little bent, will be seen by many more than ever before. The blooms will be so thick, and the scent so heady, that your example will not be missed. You may think you are of no more benefit to God, but He says otherwise. Those who appreciate you will stand under your bower and give you support, but the work you are doing as you persevere is still a service far more precious than you could ever have imagined.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. Prov 4:18