Friday, September 30, 2016

A Heartfelt Thanks

I was mid-hustle and bustle this morning when I glanced out my back window and my eyes fell on this glorious sight. The sun was shining, no, streaming rather, across a very narrow sliver of my backyard. Fall is upon us and the days are getting shorter and the sun is getting lower and so the rest of the yard was still covered in shadows, all but this one small piece. Four square feet of sunshine and wouldn't you know what one plant had a front row seat in the splendorous beam?

I was instantly struck, so much so that I grabbed my camera and flip flops and ran outside to take a picture. "Oh my gosh," I thought to myself. "What a perfect little picture from God this morning, to testify of his glory amidst the struggle. Thank you Jesus for using your creation to stop me in my tracks." 

Some might call me crazy or over dramatic but I believe our human souls are wired in such a way that sometimes God speaks to us through something as silly-sounding as a flower, if we will only slow ourselves down long enough to listen. For me this morning, it was in my overgrown, weed-filled backyard. Let me fill you in on some of the back story.

I have tried for two years and running to successfully grow sunflowers along my back fence. This year alone I planted and replanted those darn little seeds, (THREE PACKETS WORTH!) over and over only to come outside and find empty sunflower shells strewn about, and holes dug into the soil where they once lay buried. Some creature with an impeccable sense of smell had discovered my plans and was snatching the seeds and calling them dinner before they were even allowed to germinate.

Time and time again though I tried, convinced that sunflowers would look amazing along that back fence line. After maybe the 3rd or 4th planting, my persistence finally paid off (or I hit a lucky animal-free struck), and I went outside and rejoiced to see 5 small green stubs poking through the dirt. Five out of the 100 or so seeds I'd sown, had survived the initial sprouting stages! The little seedlings grew and did well and I was careful to water them often to facilitate their survival. I bought a couple of supplemental sunflower plant starts to balance out the fence line and fill in the gaps. Everything was going so well and I thought I was in the clear.

The plants had grown to be about 18 inches in height when I noticed the first sign of flowers on one of the starts. I was elated. That afternoon, I went outside to inspect their progress more closely. As I approached the little dirt patch, my heart sank. Not only could I no longer see the flower that I'd spotted only that morning, but there, along the fence line, stood just the bottom halves of my sunflower plants, rooted in the dirt, but much shorter now. Beside each stub, lay it's corresponding top, in a neat little row, severed down the middle as if to mock me. What was this!? Some kind of sick joke? It appeared as if someone had taken a pair of clippers and chopped off the tops of each and every last one of my precious plants.

I couldn't believe it. I was furious. Foiled again, by some twisted and evil creature after weeks of care and labor! So I threw in the towel. I gave up on my sunflowers and walked away and surrendered that little patch of dirt to the animals. I figured if anything was to grow there, it would have to grow without my care and attention because I was done.

Imagine my surprise when last week, here at the END of September, I looked out the window and spied a sunflower plant, growing and thriving and climbing towards the sky. "What? How?" I wondered at the absurdity. "Where did that thing come from? How did it survive?" All I can say is that, as I sit here today on the eve of October, against all odds, that mysterious sunflower plant finally began to flower. And man is it ever showing off!

This sunflower served as a reminder to me this morning that God is at work in all of us and at all times. He's at work in the strangest of places, in the weed patches that we've abandoned for dead, in the areas of our lives that we feel are perpetually sabotaged and even in the areas that we've turned our backs on. One day, on days like today, we wake up and realize that life was happening, change was in process, deep and hidden and now there is surprising, unexpected glory.

I want to take a minute now say a heartfelt thank you to all of you who read, commented on, reached out to me, and responded to my post last week. I hope you all know that in writing these things, it is never my intention to draw attention to myself. I feel moved to share my journey, even as I journey it, and I wasn't really sure what to expect after sharing something so deep. But your reply was powerful. Although I didn't need any of those sweet words from all of you to keep writing, they sure do minister to my soul.

The great author C.S. Lewis says,

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one."

There is a deep connection that occurs when one steps into vulnerability and shares a struggle with another and I want to say thank you to those of you who raised your hands and said "Me too." You are brave souls. 

Love to all you precious people today!

1 comment:

posted by kelsie