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“Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.”
1 Cor 3:6
1 Cor 3:6
I love it when God uses my personal life to teach me about Him. Probably you master gardeners have learned this lesson, but in all my years, I have never witnessed such a marvel.
Since my marriage to William last year, I assumed many household duties from our housekeeper. I especially enjoy our personal shopping, laundry, and the outdoor watering of our patio plants.
Over the past years, Bill had many friends who endowed their outdoor gardening talents at Aerie Hall. (“Aerie” means a high, hidden and safe cleft in the rock; an eagle’s nest.) Pastor Piersol generously planted beautiful trees and shrubs. While Bob and Nancy resided here, she devoted her green thumbs for transplanting, weeding, feeding and consistently watering all the plants.
When I arrived as the new gardener, the Texas summer heat had taken its toll and many plants were nearly dead. My own plants struggled with traumatic moves to and from Austin and a few had not survived. I culled through the pots hoping to recover any that showed the slightest life. Some were hopeless. I threw away soil and stacked empty pots in the shed. I pruned other plants radically and simply rearranged the remaining pots under the portico. During the year, I faithfully committed generous drinks of water to our plant life.
Following the hot summer, an unusually cold winter froze the remnant. I discarded more plants and dirt and I stacked up a few more pots in the shed. It seemed that deadness generated more deadness with one plant especially. Even so, I refused to give up and I continued to trim its leaves.
I also watered two dead Dracaena stumps, commonly called “corn plants.” Someone had planted them in the middle of the largest pot with some very lush foliage that flourished as the spring season arrived.
Midsummer heat cycled back around and after returning from our anniversary trip, I resumed the watering schedule. I made the rounds from pot to pot with the hose and to my surprise, one of the dead Dracaenas had a little bud jutting from the side of the stalk. I had no idea there was the slightest life in that dead stump.
Soon after noticing these buds, I showed them off to friends and family. One friend remarked,
“I wouldn't discount that second stump just yet.”
Even though it appeared limp and mushy, I watered the stump. A few days later, I discovered a new corn plant erupting from under the neighboring soil just as he had predicted.
Several spiritual applications for this story have touched my life personally so I saw them immediately. You may see others. First, I recognized the difference between surviving and thriving seasons. I noticed the importance of patience during dormancy, willingness in submission to painful pruning and finally, the stewardship of God’s faithfulness.
Transformation is a mysterious process. The most notable, profound and celebrated transformations happen from “glory to glory.” If you are in the season of that two-letter word, “to,” you, too, are in good company. Remember that a Saturday occurred between the most revered Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. The Gospels divulge little to nothing about what transpired in the disciples’ lives on that Saturday. Can you imagine the pressure and anxiety, disbelief and grief Jesus’ followers must have experienced during this shift in their world? Even an earthquake accompanied the most horrendous evils that Friday, and yet, Sunday came!
Transitions are critically necessary for “times of refreshing.” God’s redemptive plan always requires a transition from repentance to recovery. The requirement usually involves some kind of tension in our souls. As long as I consider humility, forgiveness and obedience as merely "options," conflict and uncertainty remain, as does my survival mode. Lost dreams and dashed hopes for a gratifying life, single or married, always appear in the “to and twain” times, but so do the seeds of the most astonishing deliverance! When I am tempted to ask, “Why is this happening to me” I hope I remember the seeds of a dead corn plant that did not merely survive, but thrived because of my willingness to respond.
God is faithful to provide. He carefully positions and promises colorful, productive maturation in whatever way He sees appropriate. I believe God waters the souls of people where there seems to be no spiritual life. He waters with no apparent motive except Love and His desire to generate prime, wholesome and enduring growth in His children. God blesses the just and the unjust alike to quicken our hearts toward Him.
A distinguished Christian author and historian, Philip Yancey quotes H. G. Wells, who was not a Christian, “Every historian’s test is a question, ‘What do we leave behind to grow?’”