I have been pondering growth a lot lately. It is probably due to this conference I have been asked to participate in that has me thinking about soil and seeds and water and nutrients.
I watched my babies grow and celebrated each milestone and worried over each delayed milestone. In parenting I have felt the pressure that all children should be experiencing this or that by a certain age even though it is common knowledge that not one child is like the other and therefore have different rates of growth and achievement.
At times that’s been difficult to remember.
I am at a point in my parenting where I am, at times, anxiously waiting for the seeds that I planted into my kids’ hearts to take root and grow. When they were young I amended their heart’s soil by adding in the nutrients of unconditional love, which did what was best for them and not necessarily what they wanted.
I planted the seeds of kindness, selflessness, respect, responsibility, repentance, and forgiveness. I hopefully gave them the right tools to tend to the garden of their souls.
I watered it with gentle responses (at times not so gentle and thank God for their forgiving hearts). I watered it with showing them kindness and respect. I watered it with humbling apologizing for my own parenting failures. I water it with prayer.
Now I wait. I continue to plant those seeds, but now I wait.
I wait for God to give the growth. I can walk my kids through the steps of what selflessness looks like. Maybe it’s seeing trash on the floor and instead of walking by it, we go together to pick it up and throw it away. Or maybe it’s doing a sibling’s chore. And sometimes it’s walking with them through the repentance and forgiveness process for something they did wrong.
But I wait for God to cause those seeds to grow in their hearts. I cannot make them grow. I cannot force them grow. I want to though.
Especially when it’s hard to wait on God.
This is part of my rest. This is part of my desperation for God. It’s the waiting on him. It’s the stilling of my mind and soul and emotions to be still in his presence and whisper, ‘God? Here I am. I am a jumbled mess. But here I am.’ and then be quiet.
Being quiet in God’s presence takes practice. It takes discipline. It takes moments of failure to train our minds to be quiet. To be quiet of worry, but to be loud in pondering the nature of God:
The goodness of Him.
The love of God, the love so overwhelming that it drives out all fear.
The power of God that causes those seeds to grow.
You are a seed planter. Plant your seeds and wait on God to water them and grow them.
Fall is whispering its arrival in the cool nights and the turning of the fields. I have always thought the fall sky is a different sort of blue than the blue of summer or spring or winter. It takes on a brilliance that is emphasized with the myriad of colors in the fields, trees and lawns.
It’s a time to reap what was sown.
It’s a time to calculate the bushels grown and collected.
I watch the cycle of seasons as they unfold and with it I see the cycle of my spiritual life. Often times, in my walk with Christ, I go through quiet seasons, similar to winter where things seem barren, but life is there, it’s just hidden for a time. It’s a time where the Lord is revealing a hidden truth to me so I dig deep and mine it out and ponder and let it grow within and stir my soul. Sometimes I learn a hard truth, such as a pattern of thought that doesn’t please the Lord and sometimes it’s a healing truth, such as he chooses me. Me! The unchosen! (you know those playground games where teams are chosen and there is this one kid that gets picked last, but nobody wants her, but you have to pick her anyway? That was me.)
Then spring comes and with it there is mud, icy rain, and more mud, but eventually, because it alway does, life pokes it’s little head up through the muddy soil and reaches for the warmth of the sun. So it is with God’s life-giving truths in my spirit. As I accept those truths, they can’t help but poke their little heads up, looking around, trying the world on for size, trying me on for size. It’s the best part of God’s truths. They affect us and the world around us. They bring beauty.
Summer arrives and plants grow and flower and flourish. That ‘truth’ that God revealed to me in winter? Well, it begins to bloom and produce fruit, yet it needs to be protected from the weeds that will choke a new plant out. What are those weeds? My defaults. My knee-jerk reactions to people and circumstances. When that happens, I have a choice. I can choose to pull it out right then and there or ignore it and wait for another day more ‘conducive’ to ‘weeding’. The thing is…the longer I allow a weed to take root in my flower bed, the harder it is to pull out. So it is with spiritual weeds. Pull them while they’re little and your heart’s soil is soft.
My favorite time of the year. The colors are brilliant. The sky takes my breath away. The sunrises and sunsets are the most spectacular. It appears that plants are dying, but it’s this time when we can offer our fruits to others. We’ve grown and taken in nutrients from the soil and sun and we have produced fruit! The truths we learn, the hard things we face, the growth we experience are not meant for us alone. Everything we experience can be turned into praise when we allow the Holy Spirit into those places to be used for God’s glory and purpose in someone else’s life.
Then there is a season of rest–winter. And the cycle continues. We are not meant to live always in summer or on a mountaintop, but there are winter times and valley times and new growth times and muddy times and cold times and warmed by the sun times. Embrace it all and smile into the face of the future. God is there.