I love perennials. First and foremost, I am cheap. They do come back if you do not have a killer instinct–and sometimes even if you do! Secondly, they gain strength with each year. Thirdly, they multiply.
Four years ago, my mom bought plants for me for my birthday. It was so much fun to go together to pick them. One of the plants was a peony. It came in a small pot, but I saw the potential of what was to come. The problem, I did not plant it in the ground until the end of summer when it was root bound. It was as good as dead! Each year, I am amazed when leaves come up out of the ground in spring. Until this year, those leaves have been quite pitiful. There was a time when my nephew actually weedeated said leaves.
Imagine my joy and surprise when the plant’s strength seemed to have tripled this year. And, hold on to your seats, there were actual blooms. Everyday for a month and a half, I examined the blooms sure that they would pop any day. The day finally came. These soft pink, velvetly, flowers with heavenly aroma came forth. I was overjoyed. For four years, I had waited for those blooms. It was worth it!
It seems I waited so long for the blooms to burst forth into flowers. I could not see all that was going on inside–the processes, the growth in the roots below the soil. The beauty of the opened buds cannot be explained properly.
As always, gardening turns my heart and mind toward the spiritual. I think about these young women that I pour into. I can tend the garden, but I cannot produce the fruit. I can love and pray, but I cannot see all the processes going on in the roots (the heart). Sometimes there are years (just like the peony bush) where processes of growth are going on beneath the surface—little incremental leaf growth that disappears in winter then grows again. Planting, watering, mulching, then doing it again. Pouring His word into lives even when you cannot see the effects–faithfulness even in frustration–does reap fruit! We may get to see the harvest, and we may not. When the blooms burst forth, we see it is worth it.
When those blooms burst forth, I already lamented their dying. I thought “I wonder how long they will stay?” Big rains were coming, and I ended up cutting them and putting them in my living room to be enjoyed. I took pictures to remember them. I know that life holds seasons all for purposes–blooming,pruning, dying, growth beneath the surface to burst forth again. The beauty of the flower can become an idol instead of trusting the One who brought the growth.
My prayer for all the women I disciple–that their roots continue to grow deeply into Christ whatever season it is. One of my favorite songs written by David Wilcox says
“Summer lasted a generation then the winter wind. Bounty harvest seems so endless, til it gave what it could give. Prosperity will have it’s seasons, and even when it’s here, it’s going by. And when it’s gone, we pretend we know the reasons. All the roots grow deeper when it’s dry.”
“Looked so easy, we change the weather. We would turn this world ourselves, our world so small. But slower rhythms, still unheard of, say that every blessed summer some day has to fall.”
Another song comes to mind:
“This is my prayer in the harvest, when favor and providence flow. I know I’m filled to be emptied again. The seed I received I will sow.”
An encouragement to you disciple-makers–Trust the One who brings the fruit–not the fruit itself. Trust the One who has purpose for each season–we do not see the depth of what He is doing. Pray, fertilize with the word, love, be patient, pray again, exhort again. If the Spirit is there, there will be fruit. And, in the times of dry where the unseen roots are growing deeper, remember the beauty of the fruit of the past and remember He is faithful.
Remember that in Christ, we are perennials. With each year, we gain strength because He establishes us more and more in Him. And, in times we cannot even see, multiplication is going on. Fruit in our lives brings further fruit and spreads to the establishment of others. Tend the soil with the fertilizer of His word. Water comes with fellowship with Him. Spread your arms and face toward the Son. Grow in Him, the Vine, and allow Him to prune those areas of growth so that He may be further glorified.