“He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3
There is nothing more poetic than the Old Testament. Okay, maybe Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but they all learned from the Book. I’m a visual person so any words that create a picture speak to me. I came along this verse in a journal. Being a lover of gardens, it stirred a bit of longing for spring in my soul.
Here in Chicago, we’re just about finished with snow (please note the time of year and appropriately moan). Though it be the middle of May (!) when we could still have a winter storm (!), our rains have fully arrived. Spring runs a bit late here…unless it doesn’t. Planting, in ground, usually waits till June. Pansies are the one exception. I’m addicted to pansies, they can weather a cold snap, snow and hail and still bloom lushly through July.
Econominical are they
I didn’t possess this wisdom when we arrived in Illinois 20 years ago. I was a casual gardener. I wanted a beautiful yard but really didn’t care about getting my hands dirty. Growing up in California, I learned about roses, dahlias, fuchsias and begonias, all easily grown in the Bay Area. My dad was an avid gardner, still is. He grew dahlias the size of dinner plates, showed them at flower shows and even won a prize or two. People stopped their cars in front of our house and asked for cuttings, he generously gave.
California was an easy place to garden
Not so Illinois! The rule here is: first year it sleeps, 2nd it peeps, 3rd it creeps (unless it dies). I learned this by loosing plants. I also learned that “Division = Multiplication,” but only in gardening. Soon plants from friends and neighbors were popping up in my yard while some of mine were living in theirs. The best housewarming gifts are plants from your yard.
It’s a thing
There’s a chemistry to gardening. Tombs have been written about the subject, I own a couple. They sit on my shelf, mostly unread until I’m desperate. Entire societies exist simply to debate the merits of compost, dirt, organic matter, topsoil, fertilizers, pruning and weed control. I’ve met people who are as deeply invested in the finer points of this hobby as foodies and craft brewers. I can speak about sewing the same way, so I have an appreciation for their passion, but my all time criteria for soil and pruning?
Is it damp, dark and does it smell dirty? Is it dead? Cut it off…
As most things in life, I’m a hack gardner. Any shortcut? I’ll take it. Any quick success trick? Show me and I’ll use it. I’m not picky. I have no conscience about using chemicals, except when they harm the dog. And I’m all about those little fertilizer sticks you push into your pots or near your shrubs, easy peasy. Some would call me lazy but it just isn’t critical to me how I get my results, as long as I like them.
I like to think of myself as pragmatic
After I came across the above verse a bit of poetry rose up in my soul. Writing poetry isn’t my thing, and this one is crude at best! I guarantee it’s unfinished but again, I’m a hack and have moved on to writing easier, quicker things…
Rain arrives in a torrent,
Nourshing the ground for the arrival of spring
It loosens soil, softens the shells of sleeping bulbs
And tickles the roots of dormant plants and trees
Gradually each plant, young or old sends out tender leaves to unseen light
They stretch their arms up through the soggy ground
Cemented soil loosens, freeing plants from their cold and frosty chains
"Wake up! It's warm, it's light - it's safe!"
The sun peeks between the clouds
Warming the ground, penetrating hidden depths
Awakening the sleeping roots of dormant life
Feeding the hungry bits of life hardened by winter's chill
It occurs to me (as it has for millions through the ages) that spring is a brilliant metaphor for the work of God’s hand in our personal lives. It’s something called,
One of those NT words that has been abused through the ages. We rarely use it anymore, it sounds too theological. Simply stated, it means “to be made holy”. Its meaning is still profoundly important to believers today. We come to Jesus as we are, which is an unshakeable truth, but (you knew there was a ‘but’), we are also invited to change, to become like him in every way. And Jesus was everything holy.
That’s sanctification in a nutshell
Becoming like Jesus requires the work of a master gardener. One who is so intimate with the seasons and his garden that he can shape, prune, feed, nurture and grow us into a plant, tree, vine or lawn that is completely saturated with the stamp of his hand. He does the work, we receive the benefit. Our growth is a magnificent reflection of that work. Our deeply rooted chains, (unholiness) are broken allowing places in our lives to bloom in ways we never understood or imagined.
That growth and change are invitations to a hurting world to come and know the Master Gardener’s touch in their lives. Yes, it makes us healthy, but it also displays a beautiful work for others to see. And that display is a tremendous referral to the ability of the Master Gardener. Haven’t you ever stopped and asked someone how they produce such a green lawn, or grow such beautiful tomatoes, or what kind of flower is lavishly blooming in their garden? I have…so many times I can’t even count them all.
The same is true for the sanctification process in our personal lives. It is a beautiful reflection of the work of Jesus’ love and grace. Changing everything about us, emotions, behaviors, attitudes, passions, even our countenance. People will have to ask us why we are the way we are. And our reply?
It’s transformative, powerful, unimaginable and ultimately-sanctifying
“He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” Hosea 6:3
Let him come to you and bring the spring rains, you’ll never regret it