Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chamomile, Cilantro, and Rhubarb

This fall, I've developed an interest in planting and growing things... I think it is partially due to my southern nature anticipating a long, cold, dead winter ahead, and partially due to my pseudo-hippy side wanting to be more organic. But I think it's mostly because I love object lessons, and my faith grows and deepens when I have something tangible to remind me of spiritual truth.  

Sadly, I apparently don't have much of a green thumb. I planted twelve herbs in our kitchen about a month ago, and so far I've basically seen results from two: chamomile and cilantro.

The chamomile was first to appear, but has been so slow in growing that I've wondered a couple times if I killed it. It still seems fragile, and I'm somewhat afraid of loving it too much... which was the problem with the bamboo and beta fish I tried to have in college. The cilantro shot up overnight, but it was so crowded together that Hannah said we needed to thin it out... silly as it sounds, that was difficult for me, because it was the healthiest looking plant we had and we were throwing bits of it away. But then last week it started producing leaves that actually look like cilantro, which is exciting.

I'm learning how frustrating it can be to try to be a gardener... All I can do is prepare soil, plant seeds, and provide water, sunlight - healthy circumstances for potential growth. I can't make the seeds open up, I can't make roots grow deep, I can't make sprouts produce flowers, leaves, or fruit. It's aggrevating, and makes me feel a little helpless, especially as I stare into cups of earth with no trace of green, and wonder about the effectiveness of my attempts to invest in and cultivate ministry and relationships.

Then I remember that there is work happening that I can't see... God is busy under the soil and in the depths of hearts. The things I cannot control, he can do and is already doing. Faith is being confident in hope and certain of what I do not see, and my little cups of herbs remind me of that today. I just have to be faithful in what I am called to do, and trust the Lord for the miracles.

Another thing about planting, is that it is something God loves to do. I've been reading the book of Jeremiah this month, and while the first half of it was mostly about the destruction of a nation, this morning I read a beautiful passage about how God would redeem his people, bring them back, and plant them: "I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul," (Jer. 32:41).

I think maybe I like to plant because I want to do what I see my Father doing... and He is planting. He is planting his truth in hearts that want to know; he is planting hope and peace in those who long for it; he is planting me in the land of his promises and his grace, making my roots grow deeper as I rest in the richness of his love.

My friend Anna gave me an awesome pair of shoes as an early Christmas present. Aren't they cool?! They are soft and warm, and the color is called "Rhubarb." I'm wearing them today, and smile as I realize they are another object lesson to remind me... I am a plant that the great Gardener is tending and causing to grow, and I pray that there will be flowers and fruit, that I might be useful to him.

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