I'd plant the bulbs, but when spring arrived, I’d find evidence of a mole feast. Finally, after several failed attempts, Pat told me I wasn’t allowed to waste any more money on bulbs that became food to the varmints beneath the earth.
However, last summer when my hubby Pat and I added a small front porch and sidewalk, I decided it was the perfect time to attempt a green thumb once more.
“Why are you planting bulbs?” Pat asked.
“Because I want spring flowers!” I replied.
“They never grow!” Pat insisted.
“I have to try!” I retorted.
As I planted, I prayed silently over every single bulb as I placed it beneath the dirt. “Please, God. Guard my bulbs through the winter. Don’t let any creature think they are food.”
Then I waited.
When spring finally began to take its turn, I was excited to see daffodils rise from the earth. I was overjoyed when I saw my tulips do the same and take their stand. Only two bulbs had gone missing! Finally, after years of waiting…and trying…. and hoping…my desire to see spring flowers, and especially tulips bloom had been answered. Honestly, I smile every time my eyes fall on them.
Spring in Upstate New York can bring temperatures from all seasons, so every forecast of snow or frost brought a bit of alarm. But this year the threat never seemed certain. Imagine my surprise when I woke one morning to discover my tulips, as well as my daffodils, were crushed beneath the weight of—not a mere trace of snow that had been forecast—but inches of snow. My poor tulips (and my poor heart!) were so sad and droopy that I wondered if they’d survive the crushing.
But you know what happened? That same day the sun began to shine, and the snow melted away (this is a miracle, as snow rarely melts that fast in Central New York). Later that day, I had a thought as I walked around the yard surveying the damage done to my flowers. I was reminded of how hard it can be to spend years praying for the Lord to answer a heart’s cry only to have the answer come and then seem to be stolen from us.
Life can throw us off-kilter when challenges are thrown our way, and it seems as though the answer we’ve been waiting for has suddenly been snatched away. Yet, perhaps that’s not what happened at all. Perhaps, God has indeed answered the prayer, the appearance is just different than we imagined. When we ask Him to meet a desire or longing, are we only willing to accept His answer if it arrives on our terms?
Do you know what I found the next day when I opened the living room curtains? My tulips were standing tall again. I never expected any of them to survive the crushing weight of that snow and cold – but they did. There was only one daffodil that was broken at the stem. In the same way, there have been countless moments in my own life when I’ve felt crushed by the weight of a heavy burden. In that moment, I believed I would never survive through the situation, only to discover myself standing on the other side.. Oh, sure, some of my most pain-filled moments changed the way I stand. It’s hard to stand the same after you’ve been broken. I’m sure we each have a story to share about brokenness in our life.
What I noticed in the daffodil with the broken stem, however, was this: even though it was now broken at the stem, there was still beauty in the flower as it continued to bloom. I simply picked the flower, placed it in a vase filled with nourishing water and enjoyed its beauty from a new point of view. Isn’t it marvelous that even when we feel broken, our faith in Christ enables us to see things from a different perspective? He gives us a new point-of-view, even from the broken, hard places.
While the storm raged, my flowers endured a rough few days. I recognized they remained standing because their roots were deep in a good foundation. This reminds me of the importance for me, or us, to have deep roots in the foundation of God’s Word. Especially when we endure those days, or perhaps weeks, when one storm seems to produce another. It's during the moments I feel pressed and overwhelmed that I am thankful I am planted in the Word because I know it’s here that I will be able to withstand the crushing storms in life.
In his book Crushing, T.D. Jakes says that God plants us in rich soil to produce a greater fruit. He says, “God is adamantly invested in developing us into something we would never be without His direct intervention. When we find ourselves broken, battered, beaten and bruised by our circumstances, it’s possible that the Master who we’re praying will remove and solve the problem is the very One who sanctioned it and is using it to accomplish some greater effect.” What we might believe will kill us, actually will reveal something beautiful from within us. If we allow it.
Our identity changes one letter at a time when we allow the seed of God’s Word to take deep root within and realize the relevance of Paul’s words,
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 2:7-10, NLT).
Stand tall. Bloom even if you find yourself a bit broken today and #beYOU.