Rest in peace Fernie Sanders.
(Yes, I name my plants – what about it?)
I kept Mr. Fernie alive for an entire season. It was the longest I have ever sustained potted life in, well…my whole life. He was a good plant. And for awhile I was a good plant caretaker; I watered him, gave him food, and gave him shade on 95 degree days.
But, life got busy and I started to forget about Fernie. Heading to work each morning I passed by his judgmental leaves, suddenly remembering that I hadn’t watered him the day before. (Insert cringing emoji here). A few early mornings I found Fernie on the brink of death and scurried into action. More food! More water! He actually came back from the dead a few times. Fernie was a fighter.
Sadly, I neglected him far too long. The front porch realizations turned into dry days, and dry days turned into wilting weeks. Before long I was faced with an arduous decision: Fight for his little fern life or call it quits? Eventually, something pushed my decision along. . . the calendar.I glanced at the date: November 1st. Soon Michigan would get crunchy and chilly. I knew he wouldn’t have long. I watered him one more time and then I let him go.
God has used Fernie to remind me of something:
There are things planted inside each of us that are far more transformative and indispensable than my fern.
Inside of you, Holy breath and endless time become divine seeds meant to be scattered across the world as you move and speak and create. You, my friend, contain a garden much smaller, but no less good, than His creation on day one.
But do you feel good? Do you feel those seeds blooming and putting down deep roots? Do you feel like everything that’s been planted in you is alive and thriving?
I don’t. And my guess is that you don’t either.
I’ve been feeling like Fernie Sanders a lot lately.
Feeling like I’m up against time and fighting a losing battle.
Feeling like, despite my grandest efforts and 3 o’clock prayers, I can’t quite feel Him anymore. Feeling like even in the wake of my constant striving and fast feet, there are still things inside of me that seem to be withering away.
Earlier this year I sat on the dining room floor and argued with God. Straight up battled him. It started with me asking Him a simple question and ended in a barrage of disappointment-fueled accusations:
God, do you give just to take?
Do you put hopes and dreams inside of us only to crush them?
These passions and desires are so deep that I fear they have become a part of me.
And when you kill them, Father, I feel a part of me die too.
How can you stand to let them die?
You’ve forgotten me, haven’t you?
You’re just letting all of this wither away. Why?
If you don’t bring them to life, then I’ll dig them up and be free.
In that moment I heard his voice so clear:
“The question isn’t how can I bear to watch them die…the question is why would you ever want something to thrive without me? If it lives, it only lives through me. If it dies, it only dies because I’ve uprooted it for a purpose. Stop asking the wrong questions and get ready for rain.”
Elisabeth Elliot once said, “Don’t dig up in doubt what you’ve planted in faith.”
That’s great. Really. But sometimes it’s not about what I’ve planted. It’s about what He’s planted. And sometimes I don’t dig it up in DOUBT – I dig it up because I’m an IDIOT.
Maybe that quote should really say, “Don’t dig up in stupidity and fear what God has planted with wisdom and a plan“
I’ll admit that in the trenches of doubt I have started to dig up the garden He’s planted inside me. Faced with the quick passage of time and such limited understanding I’ve often started to till the soil; too impatient to wait for growth. I’ve started to uproot dreams and desires because the withering in my spirit was too painful to just do nothing. Instead of waiting for the rain to come I’ve started to dig and I’ve kept asking, “Why?”
There is a song by United Pursuit that says these words:
You’ve been faithful to plant the seed
And you will be faithful
To always send your rain
So I’ve been repeating this to myself: “If He planted it, He will grow it”
Hear this: It is not our job to grow OR our right to uproot.
He does it. He does what only He can do.
He was good enough to plant. To plant it in you. To give you the drive. To let it consume you. To keep you up at night and kick you out of bed in the morning so that your spirits can mingle and charge the most ordinary of days with divinity.
He was good enough to give to you. The dream. The calling. The purpose. The desire. To give you a taste of what it might feel like to be fully alive within His garden and fully satisfied in Him.
He is faithful in this dry season. Even when you feel that thing inside of your heart withering. Even when you think He only planted it in you to tease you or torture you or take it away. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be deceived. He. is. FAITHFUL.
He will send His rain. Oh baby, the rains are coming. Those symbolic clouds are going to fling themselves wide open and you won’t even be able to stand up under the goodness and growth that He has in store for you.
The rain is coming and my prayer is that when it does we won’t be found with our garden tilled for our false ideas of “better things”, but that we will be found waiting. My prayer is that we won’t be found with the roots of what He has planted furiously torn up in doubt because it was “taking too long”, but that we will be found even half as faithful as He has been to us.
The rains are coming and I want the One who has planted in me to find me ready, waiting and burning to bear fruit.
So let’s stop asking the wrong questions and get ready for rain.