Like Swiss Chard
My fingers moved across the spindly plants that were limp and clearly near death. I had grown them from seeds. They had survived an unexpected frost and had continued to grow. Recently, they had just plateaued. I thought to myself that maybe I just wasn’t very talented at growing Swiss Chard. Maybe, they just needed to pulled and thrown into the compost, so another plant could have its chance in their space.
Yet, I had grown these from the beginning. To give up and discard was not a decision to be made lightly. I had diligently cared for them so far, and I was not about to stop now. I gently uprooted each plant and moved it to the side.
I mixed up cow manure, decayed mushroom compost, chicken manure, and various other kinds of compost. I prepared a hole in the earth where the plants had been and dropped the smelly mixture. I spread it deeply, placed my plants back on top, and covered them carefully with the remaining soil.
I watered them. Faithfully. The first day, they looked terrible. I wondered if they were angry with me for uprooting them. Did they think I was careless? Did they know how close they were to death? They probably didn’t care.
The second day, they looked noticeably better. Their color was deepening. Their leaves were starting to stand up again. I watered them.
So came the next day and then the next. Weeks have since passed, and the plants that were once the shame of my Square Foot Garden are its glory. The have vibrant florescent green leaves and ruby red stalks. Their leaves are flowing manes that overflow the width of the square. They still bear the scars of a few insect bites here and there, but they are worthy plants now. Glorious examples of Swiss Chard.
I have no doubt that when it is time to harvest that they will serve their purpose well.
Let me just be honest with you for a few minutes. I’ve been stuck in one cycle of grief after another for over a year.
It began with accepting a child from the foster system into our home that we desperately tried to adopt. He needed a stable home, and we had one. The system was more broken than we could have ever known, and our dreams of providing for this little one were not only broken but used against our family as weapons. I bear the scars of fostering for that season.
Shortly after, a ministry situation too close to home spun wildly out of control, because domestic violence is scary and quickly spills over into the lives of everyone it touches. We had to move away quickly to protect our family and to figure out what was next.
Before we had even moved out well, I had to have an unexpected hysterectomy. While we were thankful it was possible to resolve some serious health issues, there has been a grief that has accompanied it. It’s a strange grief, because while we knew that 4th child wasn’t really possible, the completely sealed door has ushered in its own mourning.
Recently, we have been working through the heartache of having a closed door on a housing situation we really wanted and finding out from a doctor that my health issues may never resolve. My migraine disorder and all of its accompanying problems may be related to a car accident from over ten years ago. All of the money we have invested into finding answers has likely been for nothing. I may never be able to drive again. In a sense, I may be permanently disabled.
My heart has hit a wall processing it all. I have woken up every morning with my heart full of sadness, even though it is strange because I am blessed beyond measure and have so many people who love us well. Even though I know that God is so good and faithful and I have seen His wonders over and over again, His light seems far away in the dark.
I have been here before. In the past, God has led me out into the light when I couldn’t find a way out, and I know He will again. This is where I am.
Like a gardener, God often uproots us when we are weak and barely hanging on. With our limited sight, it may seem that He is killing us or discarding us. Surely, this couldn’t be for our good. Yet, there He is with us in our pain and misery. We just may not see Him. He is preparing our circumstances for our growth and good. When we are placed in the middle of manure and stench, we are sure that the good Lord is against us.
How could He be for us and place us in such circumstances of despair? Does He not care for His own? Yes, dear one, yes, He does. God is giving you exactly what you need to thrive. He is thinning the weeds from your life. He is maturing you in ways you wouldn’t have grown otherwise.
God is making you into the glorious creature you were always meant to be. He is making you like into the image of His Son, His greatest treasure.
If Jesus, the Son of God, was a man of sorrows while on this earth, can we expect any less? Yet, there is a strange counter to His sorrow. For the joy set before Him, Jesus was able to endure. The same is true for us.
The joy of what is to come, the joy of the Resurrection, the joy of everything being made right and all wrongs being undone, is what drives us dear believer when the growth is painful, slow, and hard.
God will sustain us. He is the faithful Gardener. Jesus does not lose anyone that the Father entrusts to Him.