As the pear and magnolia trees begin to blossom, and the daffodils, crocus, and hyacinth begin peeking through the earth to bloom, I find myself wanting to wander through the forest slowly soaking in the awe and wonder of spring. Not because I’ve got lots of extra time on my hands. But because I know I need to savor the truth that God is changing everything.
And when I give myself permission to do this, to soak in the wonder of the certainly coming spring, I connect more deeply to that which is truest and deepest about myself. God is changing me, too. I don’t have to do everything. In fact, I cannot do everything. With every breath our creator so generously gives HE is reminding me I am accepted and empowered and I have the strength to keep going because HE is changing everything.
Do you need this reminder today, too? Does winter’s cold and darkness make you weary? Have you been in a long season of waiting and praying for something that still has not happened?
Me too. And it is here that God meets us, right at the place of our deepest longings and unmet needs.
Sister, the Spirit of the Living God is pouring His life into you, even now. Keep the faith. His presence is here, now, even in these cold, dark, lonely days before spring.
Because as a mom of two teen boys and an almost 30-year-old daughter, I know my way of growing things can be all kinds of imperfect. That’s a gentle way of admitting I’m glad kids are more resilient than plants (Thank you, Jesus) because I’ve overwatered, underwatered, or all out neglected to the point of death all kinds of green things. And oh, how God has been faithful through my mistakes and missteps!
And when you look outside, there are blooms on branches that have looked lifeless all winter. BLOOMS, even before the leaves on some trees. Do they not know frost might still be coming? These are brave blossoms! I long for the blooms, with all their lovely smells and textures and colors. And yet, I’m reminded in this season that it’s important to take note of the darkness. It is necessary for us to see and appreciate and respond appropriately to the light.
Here’s a for instance. Remember the poinsettia and Christmas cactus left over from last holiday season? Those actually only bloom following long periods of darkness. And all the beautiful blooms we’re starting to see outside, now? They’re coming out after a period of dormancy and darkness. This period of rest is crucial to their survival and health. God’s way of doing things involves regular rhythms of light and dark, activity and rest. I love how the garden can teach us lessons like this.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:3-4 NIV)
I love how this psalm gives us a recipe for a healthy life rhythm.
Trust God first… (Rest and build your relationship with him) then get some work done.
Dwell in the land…(waste some time with Jesus) and then eat some salad.
Take delight in the Lord… (worship him) and then He will do what only He can do.
I can certainly create some levels of satisfaction and calm and productivity without accessing God’s supernatural power in my life. I might even be able to live a life that looks pretty successful on the outside without giving Him much credit.
But I want more than that. Don’t you? In order to live a sustainable life, a fruitful life, a God-honoring life, I’ve got to get on my knees on the regular to train myself to listen, rest, and rejoice in Him. And while I’m down here on my knees, I notice something in the dirt. Really. Come on down here with me and get close to the dirt. Lean right down here and notice what’s happening. What do you see? What do you smell? What does it feel like? There is LIFE in this dark earth. Did you know God played in the dirt in order to make you and me?
At the time God made Earth and Heaven, before any grasses or shrubs had sprouted from the ground—God hadn’t yet sent rain on Earth, nor was there anyone around to work the ground (the whole Earth was watered by underground springs)—God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul! (Gen 2:7 MSG)
I like to picture this moment. Can you see our creator playing in the dirt and considering forming a human in his image? I can picture the loving way God would have moved his hands through the dirt. He might have lifted it to his face and smelled it. He would have held it and shaped it. He would have enjoyed the process of creating us because he delights in us.
And Jesus was born in a dusty place - stables and barns (Luke 2) are not the tidiest. And he made a miracle from dirt - he healed a man born blind (John 9) by spitting on dirt, making mud and putting it on his eyes. And he drew in the dirt (John 8) to remind us he is our advocate, not our accuser and that we are not to judge harshly ourselves or others.
There are more examples, too, that tell me it’s important to God that we stay low enough to notice what’s happening in the dirt. Do you remember what it was like to play in the dirt? When we were kids, we would do it all the time. And that’s what I love about gardening. It connects me more to my younger, more creative, and carefree self. And I believe it’s also bringing me closer to God and the way he grows things. From the ground, up.
This spring, consider getting back to playing in the dirt. It’s a good time now to plant so many good things. The garden center is overflowing with edibles like beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and collards. Strawberries, lemon, lime, and peach trees are in now, too. And if you're wanting to bring life to your yard or indoor spaces, choices are abundant. And remember...
No matter how much you may have felt abandoned, mistreated, neglected, or wounded, God sees you. He's with you. He's for you. If you're feeling weak, undervalued, and alone, I'm praying for you, now. This time in the darkness is preparing you for bountiful blooms.
In the old testament (Judges 6) we find the story of Gideon threshing wheat in a wine press. He's hiding. He's hungry. He's scared. He's lonely. An angel of the Lord comes to him and says, the Lord is with you mighty warrior. Go in the strength you have.
Go, in the strength you have. You see, the Lord is not comparing our blooms to those of others. He does not love the berries more than the Brussels sprouts. He loves you exactly as you are and calls you his beloved and is inviting you to an abundant, flourishing life in him. Go, sister, the enemy is under your feet. Go in the strength you have, trusting that spring is coming, God is with you, he is changing everything, and your roots run deep.
Tonia Lyon is a compassionate, high-energy, and engaging facilitator and speaker who is dedicated to helping leaders reach their full potential. Her desire to help others drove her to leave a 20 year long career in journalism to pursue pastoral care and other helping ministries. Tonia aided Pastor Steven Furtick and Elevation Church in launching and directing the megachurch's now global outreach effort.
Tonia now works as a wedding officiant and personal and professional development coach, guiding people from all areas of life to become their best selves. She is also the President's Special Assistant at Montreat College, a private Christian school. Tonia's core values include Jesus as the Center, Trust, Cooperation, Mindfulness, Connection and Compassion. You can find more about Tonia by following her at @toniablyon or jumping on her webpage.
Kaley Rivera Thompson is an author, copywriter, Bible teacher, speaker, and worship leader. When she's not championing other women, cheering on the rising generation, writing or playing her guitar, Kaley loves to sip strong coffee, go on hikes, or take a day trip to the mountains with her family. She takes the most pride in being a mom to three little girls, Lina, Lili and Ceci. You can follow her on instagram at @kriverathompson or find out more on her website at kriverathompson.com.