One of my very favorite things about gazing out at my backyard is our sunflowers. Seeds brought from dry Karamoja and planted in the fertileJinja soil grow at least ten feet tall and radiant, heads lifted to the sun.
Much to my dismay though the time we get to enjoy the flowers’ bloom always seems brief in comparison to the time we have been waiting – days of pulling seeds from the dead heads and drying them in the sun before carefully pushing the back into the soft red dirt. Weeks of waiting and finally some tiny green shoots. Weeks of watching as the shoots become thick stalks and climb into the sky. Weeks of wonder as small buds open into something glorious and beautiful.
And then so soon, they bend their heads and begin to die. And something in me is so sad as I watch the flowers seemingly loose their splendor. But my children are nothing but excited. They rush to the backyard and I cringe as they hack the stalks down and pull off the flowers that are now bigger then their faces. I look at the bare garden and feel loss, but they feel only eager anticipation. Because they remember: next time, there will be more.
Always, the shoots spring up and reach for the sky. Always they bloom beautiful and then always they bow, bending low to the earth and waiting for my children to run wide-eyed in wonder to the harvest. And always, we plant the seeds and next time there is a bigger harvest, more flowers. Many more. They remember: beauty from ashes.
I see beauty in the outcome and sadness in the death, but they know beauty in the process.
This is what my loving Father was teaching me every day of the last year, this beauty in the process. That while a healed and whole family is a marvelous thing to behold, the process that got us there is where He was most glorified and where He drew us to Himself. That a wound al healed and covered with smooth new skin is not nearly as wonderful as the relationship that was built while I bandaged that wound everyday for 8 months and cried tears and laughed stories of my Savior. That dreams die and plans change and seasons end, but He is not dome yet. He sees the seeds that come with al the endings and He is faithful to turn them into harvest, into beauty.
Sometimes we look out at our lives and it seems the garden is empty – plans dead as withered leaves, dreams laid waste. Could we rejoice in the season of waiting, believing that God who brought Jesus out of the black tomb and brings green shoots out of hard earth will bring new life out of all dark seasons too? Could we know that beauty is in this whole process, the waiting part too, not just the end result?
This year, I have beheld exquisite flowers, glorious outcomes that could have only been designed by God himself. I have watched Him make family out of strangers. I have watched Him sell a book that I never intended to write. I have watched my little girl walk with her foot flat on the ground for the first time in all five years of her life. I have watched alcoholics become moms who work hard to provide for their families. I have watched my 16 year old walk through processing the abuse in her past and learn to jump rope and have her childhood finally restored to her after nearly 4 years of living in a family. I have watched God answer prayers that I hadn’t even spoken yet.
As I gaze in wonder, I remember how He brought us out of the dark and the hard. I remember how He protected us from the pounding rain and the scorching sun, baby green shoots clinging to Him for dear life. I remember that as we reached high to the Son, He came down and pulled us closer. We turn out heads up in awe and we know what is around the corner, but we look expectantly to the bowing and the bending and the death of all we had planned because we know – in Him, there will always be more. Glorious hope.