For years, our basement would provide the means for the spring thaw to trickle back into the earth, seeping through the walls to belligerently steer its way down the slight decline to the drain. No need for pre-soaking those laundry piles! No need for what’s in those storage boxes! We fast became accustomed to prepare in expectation of the thaw’s royal procession.
We assembled early summer to draw up a battle plan. The boys and my husband would, come spring, dig down to the footings of our near-century-old house, repair and seal the foundation, and then fill up the trench with earth and rocks. I glanced out the window at the lush display this side of our fence. Really? The dignified hydrangea was laden with lime green and creamy white poufs. Mummy’s lily of the
valley had been sprightly and fragrant, its waxy leaves now framing where the delicate white bells had been. The day lilies brought robust punches of cheerful deep ginger and orange. The variegated hostas opened their lush mounds of leaves in applause to victorious stems with their crowns of mauve-blue trumpets. The lemon verbena beckoned with its gentle waft of citrus. The clusters of coreopsis turned cheerfully to me and smiled. “It will be alright!” they squeaked. Really? Everything was just so perfect! Soooo beautiful! But. Everything. Would. Need. To. Come. Out. Everything. Clay pots would provide temporary housing to select residents, mindfully attended while the mighty men did their work, to find new ground when the job was done.
Setting the stage for new ground. Digging up the perfect. Waiting for the fixing up to be fixed up. But while the digging occurs, am I hopeful or fearful? While I wait, do I trust or do I waver? Am I faith-full or faithless?
Has that ever happened to you? Have you found yourself in that happy, contented and perfect place, only to be forcibly uprooted, hovering it seems in a netherworld, then transplanted to unfamiliar territory? Oh, the odious lay-off! I have felt the dread as I walked into the boss’ office to hear those fateful words that briskly elbowed me off into a new direction. I’m not ready for this! Why me? What do I do now? Will I get a job before the unemployment premiums run out? Will we be able to make ends meet? How do I move forward?
Have you ever sucked in faith, pushed out fear, and shoved yourself forward out of amazing fulfillment into the fog of God’s vague call? Oh, the rewarding perfect-fit job! What do you do when well settled into that environment you have this thought that tickles, nags and nudges you to leave and move beyond? Why, ponder it for at least a few years to make really, absolutely, decisively and unequivocally sure of course! Nah, it couldn’t be. If that’s you, God, give me a sign. Was that a sign? I need another one. If it was you, you’d be clearer, right? Would it be enough if I let go of this corner? More? All of it? Oh. But this feels tailor-made for me! Will the new be better? I need a sign that it will be better. I need more time. But, aren’t I too old? Ok Lord. Let’s do this. A strange thrill bubbles up and charges through. I close my eyes and take a leap into uncharted waters, following a voice on the wind that seemed to say “Let go, and let’s go!” And here I am. Exploring. Writing really long-winded thoughts. Blogging and having so much FUN! Is this what God had in mind for me? Maybe it’s something for whilst I’m in that clay pot? Maybe I’ve always been in clay pots? Do I have what it takes to do this, even in an interim? I don’t know, God. But, if you say so, ok. You know what will come of this, and where I am meant to be to fully be me. Oh, and Lord? Thank you for being soooo patient with me!
Sometimes the open sea of change is calm, and I can focus clearly on the lighthouse on the horizon. Maybe my faith is such that I can even venture out of the boat. But what does it say of this kind of shallow faith to step out into deep but calm waters? Sometimes change is a stomach-churning, all-hands-on-deck-head-spinning voyage on choppy seas, where rogue waves threaten life, where I stress and struggle to keep my stomach down, the mast up and water out of the boat. Sometimes it’s a dizzying combination of both, or something in between that has me yowling out to God above the gale of the wind. There’s no way I’m stepping out the boat, God! Uh huh.
Whether I welcome it or not, plan for it or not, change seems to arrive like a surprise houseguest, and always returns to become a regular lodger. There’s no condition I can create that will make it feel unwelcome enough to stay away. But really. Why would I? Like it or not, life is an ongoing symphony of change, percolating with the beneficial power and potential of stretching aptitude and refreshing attitude. Change is the water that tests the foundation and signals new layers of growth ahead.
“It’s amazing. Life changes very quickly, in a very positive way, if you let it.”
– Lindsey Vonn
Can I focus on the shimmer of light through the storm clouds?
Will I choose to consider change a tool that can loosen and uncover, and bring very-much-needed inner review and revision, attitude re-alignment and adjustment? Can I see that more and more change can help me to step more and more into who God wants and helps me to fully be? Will I trust in God, the never-ever-changing Captain, who supplies the boat and has the map, calms the sea and directs the wind, and who knows me, and my destination? Will I trust, and weather it all with confident hope, and patient perseverance?
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”
– Frederick Douglass
Change is transplanting and branch-pruning; maybe even in-gathering of this season’s crops. It is the lifting of cramped roots through fresh air and into new dewy acreage, ushering new tender sprouts to grow, containing vision of many more abundant harvests.
New sprouts of confidence in adventure, opportunities and possibilities.
New roots in hope and dreams, faith and patience.
New flexibility, experience and strength.
New reserves of excitement, anticipation, discoveries and treasures to uncover.
New willingness to give my toe, my foot, my fingernail, my hand to partner with God to uproot, and transplant me.
New depths of love for the Gardener who hovers over me, on tiptoe with excitement, basting me with hope and faith as I sit in the pots of uncertainty, who soon gently spreads my clumped roots out across a wide swath of rich renewed earth, covering me with the cool of rejuvenation. When I have outgrown that environment, even while he harvests, his eye is on the new plot.
I imagine flurry of excitement in the unseen. The delighted Father rubbing his hands, says “Yesss!”, and reaches out to grab my toe that ventures over the precipice. He whisks me even closer to himself in tight embrace, pointing to our destination, and declaring with confident authority, “Forward! Together!”
We finish repairing our foundation this year. More upheaval. More plants in pots. More mud and vision. More excitement and experience. More joy-filled expectancy … and new harvest!
God is the one who saves me. I trust him. I am not afraid. The Lord, the Lord, gives me strength and makes me sing. He has saved me.
Isaiah 12: 2 (International Children’s Bible)
Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Hebrews 13: 8 (Complete Jewish Bible)
An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get ready and go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” … So Philip got ready and went …
Acts 8: 26-27 (Good News Translation)
Soil and Seed
Early this morning, around 6:00 or so, I happened to glance outside and see something unusual and pretty unexpected for the month of May.
I opened the door just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, and was greeted by an unusually cold blast of air. Yes indeed. Snow.
Not big flakes, mind you. In fact, at first I mistook them for drops of rain, but no, there they were. Tiny, fine flakes of snow blown by the wind, weaving through the air to eventually land and melt into the ground. Itty bitty flakes that can’t seem to be captured in a photograph despite my attempts, but trust me, they’re there.
Every season has a surprise or two, doesn’t it? Sure, I can plan and go about doing what each season calls for: turning soil and planting in Spring, weeding and trimming throughout Summer, cutting back and putting the garden to bed in Fall, dreaming of what’s to come in Winter. But sometimes there are surprises thrown in by our Gardener. Today, it was snow!
What do I do when there is a surprise or three or more thrown in during a season? Some are delightful little surprises that seem to be gifts to lift my spirit, when I open myself up wide to the Gardener and share a smile, and laugh and delight in God’s engaging sense of humor. Others I find, quite honestly, far from delightful and humorous, but downright painful; surprises that intrude and unbalance the things I’d been planning and have managed to accomplish that the day, month, year. Will this mean all that I’ve done will perish? Will the plants I’ve grown die? I turn my attention to me and my plans, my inconveniencing, and sometimes surprises do succeed in destabilizing me. And when I do this, I withdraw from the very One I should be running to, curled up in a loop of questions and bewilderment.
What do I do in those cases when I question God’s intent? When I wonder why he would allow this or that to happen to me, or to others?
I’m learning to decide that I don’t have all the answers, and that I don’t need to, and that I can choose to go with the flow. I’m learning to understand that I need to seek him out, to be open and honest with him, and listen to him rather than my own understanding of things. Most of all, I think I need to remember that the Gardener is unchanging, and so then his vision and focus. He is the same in all circumstances, offering the same peace and sharing in his joy, and that each surprise is actually a gift to accept that certitude. The Gardener graciously doesn’t push his gift on me; he leaves me to decide whether to trust and accept or distrust and reject. He knows and sees though I do not, though I get lost in and distracted by surprises. He is always present, always radiating the same deep fondness and tenderness, always ready to soothe with his warmth and encouragement, to affirm that he is in charge.
The sun peaks through the clouds now, as if tapping me on the shoulder to the fleetingness of the flakes, and the hope of what is to come. I may not have understood the meaning behind this surprise, but the Gardener does!
Oh, Jesus! I need to realize that I don’t need to know the meaning of everything, but I do need to trust you. All the time. I need to trust in you, in your promise that each surprise will be as these snowflakes – none will last forever, but will melt and serve the garden of my heart for your greater and grander purpose. And Jesus, I need to be reminded that hope never disappoints for it fertilizes faith that flowers in its season!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8, New Revised Standard Version)
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
(Psalm 145: 15, New Revised Standard Version)
When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
(Genesis 9: 16-17, New Revised Standard Version)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4: 7, New Revised Standard Version)
Soil and Seed