For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11
The last several weeks, I have taken great delight in watching my garden grow. After impatiently waiting for tulips to bloom and the seeds we planted to sprout, it finally looks as though things are taking off and the garden will indeed bear fruit. I love looking things over and seeing how they are changing.
I have to be honest and admit that I don’t get to this point effortlessly. Every year, I eagerly look forward to planting and working in the garden, but I also fret over whether or not the bulbs and plants and vegetables will take off. I haven’t yet learned to not take it personally when something doesn’t flourish and often question my abilities and methods. Eventually, I convince myself to take a deep breath and enjoy the process. And when signs of growth finally become apparent, I am filled with relief, as well as gratitude and thanksgiving.
It’s not lost on me the connections that this has to my inward spiritual life. I regularly pray that God will grow me in the fruits of God’s Spirit, help me love as God loves, and be a person of grace in my interactions with others. Yet it isn’t always easy to see that growth actually taking place. In fact, the reminders of how frequently I fail to trust God’s provision, to look upon another with friendly eyes, and to turn my concerns over to God are many. Sometimes I start to wonder if or when I’ll ever change.
But then, every so often, something will happen that helps me see that I am indeed growing and that God isn’t through with me yet. And when that happens, I am filled with a deep sense of peace, as well as gratitude and thanksgiving.In thinking of this, I am reminded of the words from Isaiah quoted above. These words remind us that God is at work in the world, and in us, and that God’s word accomplishes that for which it is sent.
Although it may not always seem obvious that this is the case, we can trust that God will lead and guide us. As we ask God to grow us in Christ, we can be confident that our prayers will not return empty. And when we get frustrated by what seems like slow progress, we can take a deep breath, knowing that God is in control of the process and does not leave us to figure it out on our own.