Reflections — May 2017

Does your mind ever play tricks on you? Mine does, especially in the early springtime. Snow has disappeared. The grass has greened up nicely. Forsythia bushes and daffodils wave in the breezes. Ah yes, this is at last what I’ve been waiting for! And, I muse, soon the blossoming trees will display their splendor just before the tulips and lilacs burst forth. Such a soliloquy I can enjoy for the moment. My mind races with enthusiasm as I excitedly venture off the patio to tour my gardens up close and personal. And then — reality sets in to diminish my exuberance just a tad. No, nothing has been removed; rather it’s what has been added. On closer inspection I see leaves and sticks, pinecones, weeds, lawn grass that has intruded, even moss!! Where did all this mess come from? We cleaned up so thoroughly last fall. Adding insult to injury, I find our tulips and newly emerging hostas have already been munched by hungry deer and bunnies who got to them sooner than we did with the spray repellant.

Springtime is decidedly not a season for a gardener to sit back and simply enjoy what comes. It is instead a time to be persistent, to adapt, and to modify schedules and activities to ever changing needs. Always there is the yearly routine of removing winter debris, loosening the soil around perennials as they pop up, fertilizing everything, applying weed retardant, pruning deadwood and broken branches from roses and flowering shrubs, digging up and dividing plants that have grown too large, replacing others, edging and mulching. And then always the possibility of inclement weather on days I have set aside to work outside which can easily tip the scale, and definitely not in my favor. Next comes a little spring trickery — some springs are unseasonably cool and rainy so tender roots may rot in the ground; other years, rainfall is at such a deficit that the soil is powdery dry, requiring frequent watering. Then there are the battles with insects and plant diseases. Some years, after all that work, the results are beautiful and rewarding. But there are other years when the results have been dismal and pitiful. The rewards are not always what we would have liked or have imagined back in the planning stages.

And aren’t our personal lives very similar? I find nature often mirrors our life situations. We have blessed times, periods of calm and harmony, great joys, and devastating lows. Life doesn’t always follow our anticipated pattern, does it? We can experience tremendous surprises that have us elated. But we also have to find our way through dark valleys of despair and sadness, along twisting paths of confusion, setbacks and shattered dreams. However, along any path, we have Jesus’ assurance that we don’t walk it alone; for He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”(Heb. 13:5) God created us to endure and spiritually prosper from life’s trials — even when it feels like we are crumbling inside. Each difficulty and every bit of confusion provides us with a fresh opportunity to connect with Jesus, however unwelcome we may find that challenge to be. With Jesus there are no failures, no defeats, just new opportunities to grow in our relationship with Him. His word will always “be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto our path” (Ps. 119:105).

Perhaps some of the best “fertilizer” for our souls and spirits comes from reviewing and remembering how complete God’s love for us truly is. Rom. 8:37 reminds us that “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”. And vs. 38-39 gives us our part, “For I am persuaded (hold that confidence close and tightly) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And to sow just a few more positive seeds in our spiritual garden, Phil. 4:8 is priceless in its admonition, saying “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” Then cap it off with your favorite praise song or hymn and see what a lovely spiritual garden springs forth — absolutely weed free!

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