The winter before I turned 15, my parents moved us all out to the country. That spring/summer, I begged to be able to plant a little flower garden. I think I had been reading The Secret Garden, or, at least, Mary’s request for “a bit of earth” was most likely echoing in my mind. I was given my “bit of earth,” and I planted roses and various other plants in it. However, I was not the world’s best plant keeper, and my little flower garden became overrun, and over the years, several things died because of lack of care. I continued to be a wannabe plant person over the next few years, but the cold hard truth was that, if you had a plant that you wanted to kill the surest way to kill it off was to give it to me. I gave up on live plants for a while and transitioned to artificial plants because those I could keep in relatively decent condition. But, somehow, in the past year, I have been able to keep plants alive. My vegetable garden did extremely well, most of the trees we planted have made it and are thriving, I was able to resuscitate the houseplants that I almost killed, and my flower gardens look like they will be shaping up to be pretty amazing this year.
I have been so impatient with my flower garden in the front of my house. This spring has been so weird, several of my early spring plants were/are stunted, and I had so many plants that I just KNEW had not made it through the cold winter. So today, I decided to clean up my flower bed. I have desperately needed to weed it, and as I pulled weeds out from among my flowers, I thought that I would just go ahead and start ripping out all my dead plants as well. Armed with a trowel and some shears, I set to work, and as I worked, I discovered that all of the plants that I knew were dead were, in fact, very much alive. Again, and again, I was shocked to see new growth around dead branches, and I started thinking about how we sometimes get it into our heads that, because we see a lack of surface growth in our lives, God must not be at work. I am so thankful for some of the verses and truths that God brought to my mind today that remind me of how God is continually at work in the lives of His children, and I hope that they will be an encouragement to you as well.
1. Don’t grow discouraged when you can’t see the immediate results of God’s work in your life.
This is so hard for me to remember. I am very much the type of person who likes to see immediate results. I have this hydrangea bush that did not do well last year, and I was convinced that it was dead. When I went to rip it out, I discovered that, while things looked dead on the surface, there was LOTS going on below. When there are big things that I want answers to, it can be really easy to assume that God is not at work when I can’t see anything happening like I want it to. His promises to me can sometimes feel empty. He is still working, of course, and it is just my own fallible nature that makes those incorrect assumptions. I love Numbers 23:19 because it reminds me that God’s promises to me will be fulfilled. They will be fulfilled in HIS time, not mine, and even though I may not see immediate results to my pleas, God is STILL at work in my life. “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
2. Remember that God makes all things new.
When I made the choice to turn my back on the things of the Lord, it didn’t take long for despair to take root in my soul. The further I became entrenched in my sin, the heavier the conviction of the Holy Spirit became. I remember being terrified to go to sleep at night out of the fear that I would die in my sleep. I knew that my lifestyle and my choice to live an ungodly life could very possibly cut my life short. However, I couldn’t untangle myself from the web that I had woven for myself, and in a moment of complete and utter hopelessness, I cried out to God to make a way of escape for me. When you’re in the middle of a situation like that, it can be so, so easy to feel hopeless that anything will ever change for the better. But God is a God of miracles! He can bring the dead to life! And He can bring joy and hope to a life filled with despair when we humbly turn to Him and seek His forgiveness. The mercies that He lavishes on me on a daily basis have become infinitely more dear to me ever since that moment when I cried out to Him. I know that He can make all things new in each and every one that turns to Him because he brought that “newness of life” to my own heart. “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
3. Remember that God knows and cares for us.
Again, when you’re in the middle of a trial (or trials), it can be easy to get wrapped up in the “poor me” thinking. I often forget that God KNOWS exactly what is going on in my life and CARES about what is happening. I was reminded today about how God cares about me-down to the seemingly smallest detail. When my husband and I were newlyweds, there were these GORGEOUS peony bushes by the garage. When we returned from our honeymoon, he picked a HUGE bouquet of peonies and gave them to me, and peonies have been my favorite flowers ever since. Last spring, I planted two peony roots at our new house because I desperately wanted to have peonies to remind me of that sweet moment. But, my husband accidentally tilled them up, and I threw the pieces of the roots away. Nothing grew in that spot all last year, but today, as I was cleaning the flower bed, I noticed a peony bush growing where no peony bush had been planted. I may have teared up a little bit at the sight of that little plant, and it serves (to me anyway) as a very strong reminder to me that God cares about me down to the most minute detail. A peony bush? Really? Was I expecting it? Absolutely not! There is no good reason why it should be there, but I very strongly believe that God knew that I needed the gentle reminder that He is the One in control of my life and that He knows me, loves me, and cares for me. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6