by Emily Conrad
Most of the plants in my yard seem to fall into one of two categories: little or dying.
The littles: Petunias I envision spilling over their hanging pot like a waterfall or a pretty girl’s hair instead reach toward the sun, not yet heavy enough to drape. The most promising of my tomato plants, the one with the purple skinned fruit, has just three tomatoes growing. The tiny little lavender plant, the one that’s questionable for my gardening zone, the little plant doesn’t have the size to survive a baby bunny let alone the strength to wrestle with a Wisconsin winter and win.
The dying: The mini roses I was so excited to see forming have gone from picture perfect to full bloom. Then, they revealed the yellow stamen at their centers. Next, the petals weathered and their happy centers turned deep brown. The poppies are long gone. All that remains of the lilacs are dry nubs.
But the truth is this: the littles are growing. To know they are on track, all I must do is look at the calendar. It’s only June. They aren’t meant to reach their glory until August. Maybe even September. For those that must survive the winter, they have months yet to grow roots, to establish themselves.
The truth is this: the dying have shared incredible beauty. They have graced vases throughout the house. They have fed bees and sheltered spiders. And even this death will end in life as they return next year and the year after.
I’m tempted to say my plans fall into these same categories, though dreams are harder to label. How do you tell the difference between a little dream and a dying dream when there’s no calendar to consult? And is it reasonable to expect new life to return to dead dreams?
What if I told you there is a calendar? We just can’t read it. That’s why we don’t know when Jesus is coming back. That’s why we labelled Lazarus dead only to be proven gloriously wrong. The accounts in the Bible, in the lives of our loved ones, and in our own lives repeat this same theme over and over again. This is the key for us, whatever stage our dreams appear to be in.
We don’t have a calendar, but we do have a history. Many histories. A whole cloud of witnesses who testify that God is faithful, that death is temporary, and that we are not to despise small beginnings.
When Saul was out to kill David, David’s anointing as king was also not dying. It was pushing through the little stage, waiting to bloom at the right time. And Joseph’s dreams. Those must’ve appeared dead many times over only to be found very much alive when he was placed over Egypt under Pharaoh.
God gave us our dreams for the long haul. Pits, slavery, death threats, and even death itself do not mean the end. It’s not our job to label our dreams or determine when God will bring them to pass. It’s our job to be obedient, loving God himself more than any dream he’s given us. It’s our job to have faith when our dreams look impossibly small and when they look dry and dead.
Instead of mourning the setbacks or the lack of progress, let’s sit quietly and wait for the God of the Living to show himself, to breathe life like only he can, to show us again his ways are not our ways. They are infinitely better.