Well, it’s that time of year again. My husband is preparing the soil for the many seeds that he’s going to plant in our garden. He’s been working hard tilling the soil, removing the sticks, stones, and weeds. After he finished cultivating the ground I was pleasantly surprised at what remained. A row of vibrant greens. I asked my husband what they were and he said, “Those are the kale that you planted last year.” Unbeknownst to me, most kale plants are biennial, lasting for two years and some varieties come back year after year. I was amazed that from no effort of our own the plants survived the brutal cold, heavy snow, ice accumulation, and extreme wind chills of our Illinois winter. I'm completely blown away that we yielded a perfectly arranged row of lively kale without any added work and intentionality on our part.
Day 1. What remained after working the soil. Such a nice surprise.
This really got me thinking that if God so cares for, protects, and preserves a kale plant so that it survives a brutally cold and blustery winter, how much more will He sustain, protect, provide, tend to us, His children, and image-bearers in our dark cold seasons in life.
One thing that I'm learning more and more with age is that the things that one may deem insignificant, things we may overlook can potentially have deep meaning, serve as illustrations for learning spiritual truths, and impact how we approach and persevere during life's hardships. Most notable when we look through the eyes of faith. I would have never imagined that I would glean such great instruction, practical significance, and some much-needed encouragement from the growth pattern of a kale plant. Of all things!
In learning about the growth pattern of kale, I discovered that in colder zones like where I live these plants will go dormant during the winter. They don't die, in fact, they continue to thrive, remain vital, and green but the growing process slows down significantly. Its ability to be able to endure the wintry weather conditions is because their root systems remain alive and because of this, they become hardy, sturdy, and able to withstand the wintry weather conditions. This is all without having to weed, feed, or water, and if I may add; with no faith required. How much more can we with faith even as a mustard seed remain standing.
The life of the kale plant is dependent on the root being alive. Just as plants draw nourishment from the soil through their roots, so we draw our life-giving strength from Christ. Jesus is alive and well and when rooted in Him we are made alive in Him and our faith grows strong in the soil of truth.
We gain instruction from the apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Colossians, "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down deep into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."
Maybe you're in a season right now whereby all appearances it looks and feels like the blustery dark cold days of winter and that there is no hope for you to thrive in the adverse conditions of your life. The seed of God’s Word that you’ve planted seemed to have fallen on rocky soil and it may look to be of no avail. Perhaps you've been really struggling in an area but you just can't seem to break through the hard soil? Have you been praying the prayer of faith and see no indication of anything sprouting up? Has the optimism, the fire you once had fizzled out by the deep freeze of life's winters?
I know, it's been a whole lot lately going on in the world and in our personal lives and for some, it just seems like one long hard, and cold wintry mess with conflict and adversity after adversity but if we look through the lens of faith, we realize that these hardships are components in the soil to help us mature and grow us up in Christ. Through the eyes of faith, God works ALL things out for our good, and even in the dark cold days of winter, our roots settle deeper in Him and we are able to endure. Be strong and thrive while abiding in the Vine.
When our outlook is framed with faith we know that God is sovereign and He is deeply concerned about us. He wants the very best for us which is why He sent His very Best for us and even He had to endure immense sufferings. In this life, we will have tribulation, and though very challenging and painful at times God has so graciously woven our difficulties into His plan for our growth and spiritual development.
The trials we face are the fertilizer that helps us grow.
In the development of the kale plant, I found it interesting that some gardeners recommend planting kale in cold weather so that they can mature. The cold brings out the flavor. Makes them sweeter and when the spring rolls around they start to produce leaves at a much faster rate. Isn't this much like our spiritual growth? In the dark cold days of adversity is when God is maturing us but afterward, we reap a harvest of blessing!
The blessing of conformation to the image of Jesus. The blessing of being made sturdy, durable, and more able to withstand the tests and trials of life. The blessing of a long-awaited answer to prayer! The blessing of being more securely established in Him. The blessing of deeper sweeter fellowship and greater revelation of God's extravagant love, intimacy, and faithfulness. The blessing of being able to walk alongside someone who is suffering and comfort them with the comfort we received from the Lord. Not a thing is wasted. Even what was meant for bad God will turn it around for our good. God will use the trials we face as fertilizer to helps us grow and we are further equipped to help others. Talk about on-the-job training!
There is much blessing and stretching in the difficult seasons. Spiritual growth is rarely found on the mountaintops. The valleys are prime soil for optimal spiritual growth. After the fallow ground is broken, the weeds, thorns, and stones removed from the soil of our hearts, what remains is so beautiful. So useful. So grounded. So reflective of the heart of God. So flavorful.
Your lives are like salt among the people. But if you, like salt, become bland, how can your saltiness be restored? Flavorless salt is good for nothing. Matthew 5:13 TPT
Day 5. What remained. Flowering seeds in bloom. Seed multiplied.
So let us not grow weary or become discouraged in the waiting season, for at the proper time we will reap a wonderful harvest. It is through faith and patience that we inherit the promise.
God is faithful to multiply the seed we have sown, enlarge our harvest of righteousness, and produce in us the fruit of His Spirit.
God has so lovingly given us glimpses of His faithfulness and perfection in creation. But it's only a glimpse. His majesty and goodness are beyond compare and unimaginable.
We can't see the whole scope of things but we seek after, trust in, abide in Christ, who so graciously grows us up into trees of righteousness. Saturates us with His Spirit while we feed on His Word; making us strong. Fresh and flourishing! By His grace a lifelong superabounding growth process of making us more alive in Him. Where we:
Demonstrate God's love.
Echo His beauty.
Radiate His light to the world.
In Him we discover deeper depths of His love, faithfulness, and majesty; our faith grows strong in the truth we are taught, and our hearts bubble over with fruit and thankfulness, and what remains not even Solomon in all His splendor is arrayed like one of these!
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