by Emily Conrad
As the snow recedes in spring, I amble over to my flowerbeds, watching for life to return.
I monitor the red and green spears of new growth that pierce the dirt and matted leaves. First, daffodil leaves poke through, then shoots that will become peonies. Somewhere in there, rolled tulip leaves rise up and unfurl.
Last fall, my husband and I buried bulb after bulb. This spring, I eagerly awaited blooms from them because peonies are my favorite flower, but they are not the earliest. Our magnolia, tulips, and daffodils help me with the longer wait for the sweet pom-like blooms I love most.
Faithful, the first magnolia blossom made its grand entrance on Easter. Meanwhile, the leaves of the tulips and daffodils grew and grew, no sign of a bud.
I started to worry. What if we’d planted all those bulbs at the wrong depth? Perhaps they wouldn’t bloom.
On Easter, I asked my in-laws, avid gardeners, if they thought there was a problem. They said no, to just wait.
I worried anyway.
But after a warm Easter, suddenly, rounded buds appeared on many of the daffodils. The tulips followed suit, and now both are blooming, with more on the way.
When the NET version of Zechariah 4:10 asks, “For who dares make light of small beginnings?”, I’m afraid I must sheepishly raise my hand.
Or perhaps it’s not that I’ve made light of them, but I’ve certainly questioned them, and not just when it comes to flowers.
When I start a new habit, I suspect I should’ve seen more results by now.
When I pursue a dream, I think I should be further along than I am.
When I invest in a new relationship, I expect it to unfurl as quickly as those foam capsules children drop in a glass of water to get a shark or a dinosaur.
In my impatience, instead of tending these new beginnings with the kind of care and attention I lavish on my peonies, I’m tempted to give up, get my feelings hurt, or skip vital steps. Sometimes all three.
Have you been there?
Isn’t it easy to look at an undertaking and decide we’re behind schedule? In our worry, we underestimate what can yet be accomplished. We let good habits slide because they haven’t yet yielded the desired results. Our faith ebbs, and we wonder if good will really come of this journey.
But if we’re journeying with Jesus, we can rest assured.
God started Adam and Eve in a garden. It’s no surprise, then, that our lives don’t unfold quickly, like a child’s foam capsule dinosaur, but with the slow beauty of a peony.
Some seasons, all seems dormant. Other times, we labor and wait. We grow. Changes set us back, and it takes time to be reestablished.
Through it all, God tends us carefully.
He promises us not the fulfillment of all our earthly dreams, but something better. That His purposes for us will be fulfilled in their proper time, in their proper way.
I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6, NET, emphasis mine.
The peonies, tulips, and daffodils remind me I can trust this patient God, this Master Gardener who breathes life into dirt. The flowers remind me to enjoy the small beginnings, to keep faith that what I see and experience here is just that–a small beginning. A shadow of the glory to come.
For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12, NET
A few years ago, my mom bought me a new peony from a seed company. The little plant is entering its third season. Perhaps this year, it will yield a flower. Perhaps not.
Either way, I’m tending it. I’m waiting. I’m cheering it on through its small beginning because I know, one day, I’ll have a full bouquet to show for the effort.
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