Monday, March 5, 2012

Blueberries and the Rain

Clouds gather, the afternoon warm and muggy. Impending rain hangs heavy in the air. Adam and Jayci hurry outside with the wheelbarrow to plant blueberry and strawberry bushes before the threatening clouds begin spitting rain on their seedlings. Carefully, hurriedly, they dig hole after hole in a measured row. They gently lower in each bush, then take time to pat the soil down. I cringe a little as Jayci wipes her dirt-covered hands on her purple tutu; toes and sparkly pink sandals spotted with flecks of mud and clay.
"Mommy" she announces, "tomorrow we will share our blueberries with all our friends!" I smile at her  eager generosity, and explain that it will take a little while before any berries actually grow on the plants.  I point to tiny buds, small promises that will one day turn to juicy purple blueberries. I explain how plants need sunshine, and rain, and time, and perhaps some singing, in order to grow. And that fruit-growing can be a long process.

Later that night, Adam and I sit on the front porch as drops finally fall from pregnant-skies. Lightning flashes, and we hold hands, watching the water wash in deluges over our new little plants. Adam tells me how much fun he had gardening with Jayci. He tells me about how he dug the holes and then watched as Jayci oh-so-carefully put the strawberry plants in. Only she put them in upside-down, every single time. And Adam went behind her, gently up-righting them, without her noticing. And he told her how happy he was for her help, and how much he loved when she planted with him. Even though it took him twice as long with her than it would have without her.
 
And I can't help but think how it's the same way with my own heart and in our ministry. Fruit-producing is a long and painstaking process. I am impatient, and I want fruit tomorrow, today even. I want Jayci to learn patience and obedience tomorrow, not some distant months or years down the road. And I certainly don't relish the painstaking work of cultivating them in her. I want our kiddos to trust us, to change the paths they are walking on, to stop stealing, and having babies at fourteen. I want our ministry to bear fruit NOW.

But that's just not how fruit works, is it?  We plant, and our hands get dirty. We make ourselves vulnerable, tilling the soil. We carefully and gently cover the seedlings with dirt, certain that fruit is imminent, frustrated when it's not.

And the Lord comes behind us, gently up-ending all we've done, turning what we think we know on it's head. The first will be last. Blessed are the poor. Joy for mourning. New life through death.

Sometimes, in the cultivating, we are surprised to find that our lives and hearts bear fruit in ways we couldn't have expected. We learn faith and trust in ways much harder and in soil far rockier than we would have chosen. We surrender our son, and Christ cultivates joy and peace in our hearts. We open our home back up after having a wallet stolen, only to have our "honeymoon fund" piggy-bank taken. And Christ cultivates forgiveness and grace.

Through it all, God sends the rain and sun.

Sitting on our porch watching the rain, I suddenly realize how grateful I am that God lets us be a part of tending His garden. That even in our fumbling efforts, even when we plant things upside down, He delights in working alongside us. Because He can certainly change this city without our help. But He is gracious enough to allow us to garden with and for Him. And sometimes we are changed more in the gardening with our Savior than we will ever see fruit from those seeds we painstakingly plant. 

Because there is frost, kiddos move away, storms come, mistakes are made, things are stolen, hearts are broken, and sometimes there is sickness or even death. But through it all, God has us just where he wants us. 

And so we are learning to wait patiently for the slow work of God. To enjoy gardening with our Beloved. To wait in hope and faith, caring for seedlings with tenderness and love, and maybe a little singing. Because we are absolutely certain that His perfect timing will produce the most beautiful fruit.
 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15: 5

7 comments:

  1. Thank you Becca. Thank you for planting. Thank you for following Jesus. And thank you so much for sharing your journey. You are an inspiration in every way. Love, Becky

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  2. Beautiful post today and so true. You would think I would know this by now !

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  3. You have a beautiful way with words, my friend! Thank you for sharing your heart.

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  4. You should write a book!!! Beautifully written as always!

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  5. this is a dream. so stinking good. sorry to be a creeper. i'm so blessed by your posts and missed like 5 years of them, so like to "catch up" whenever i have time. :) long way to go... you're not getting rid of me anytime sooN!

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