How Am I Like A Jasmine Bush?
I absolutely love walking through my neighborhood this time of year. All my favorite flowers are blooming, the grass is green and growing, and the few trees that lost leaves in winter are starting to fill in again. New life is everywhere. Spring feels so hopeful. On a recent walk I was enjoying, I noticed this beautiful jasmine bush. It often stops me because of the smell...it's just gorgeous. Each time I smell it and see the beautiful flowers, I am reminded of God's Love for me. The scent is like His perfume and brings me right back to the Psalm 23:6 truth that His beauty is chasing after me. But this time something new occurred to me. As I looked at the beautiful plant, I realized how similar I was to it (stick with me here, we're heading to something good).
Just like that bush, I too, wasn't always here. I actually had to be placed on this earth, created from nothing into something, and slowly grown over time. Just like that bush, I have sat through crazy storms and the most beautiful days. Just like that bush, I have had seasons where I blossomed and seasons where my leaves fell off and I looked like I was dying. Just like that bush, I would not have grown without the good soil it was planted in, the water and sun provided by God, and the pruning done by my Great Gardener. And just like the bush, I have grown through all the things I have gone through.
The Soil Matters
In the upcoming weeks, we are going to be talking about this growth process and what that looks like in our lives. We're starting with one of the most important parts: the soil. It's such an important place to start! In the last house I lived in, we tried to plant a garden. As we were digging up the plot in our backyard we noticed that the dirt wasn't so much like dirt, it was more like clay. We went ahead with our vision because we were determined. But regardless of our determination and desire for our beautiful (in our dreams) plants to grow, they absolutely wouldn't because the soil was bad.
In Matthew 13, Jesus talks about the importance of good soil in us. God is constantly scattering His love and truth in our lives, but some of it falls on the road, some on the gravel, some in the weeds, and some in good soil. Guess which one allows for growth? As I read that, I know I am wanting good soil for myself, but I have no idea what that really means. What does that "soil" that Jesus spoke of actually look like in real life? The thought that comes to me again and again is that it's about the attitude of my heart.
What Does It All Mean?
There have been times when my heart is like the road in the parable; there's just no space for God. I'm not interested, not paying attention, or completely focused on what I want. Nothing grows there. Then there have been times when the soil of my heart is like gravel. I experience love in a powerful way, feel the strength and power of it, and want to change. But soon I forget and go back to my old habits. The growth is short-lived and fades. I also feel like I often live in the weeds! I am so aware of God's love for me, but lose focus as I worry about MY people, MY circumstances, MY life and MY plans. Every good change God wants to make is strangled out. And then there are times when the only thing found in my heart is good soil. That usually happens in times of desperation when I become so aware of both my need and dependence on God (parenting OFTEN brings me there). Every time this happens, I am open to God's Love, plan, and purpose for my life. And EVERY single time, He grows something beautiful in me.
In order for us to really grow through what God is allowing us to go through, there has to be good soil. But this is not something to stress about and start thinking of as an enormous undertaking. The entire growth process is God's to do. Our task has more to do with our awareness of Him and His love, and the willingness to accept the opportunity for change. It's about taking the time to consider the attitude of our heart and asking God to make it one that's ready for Him.
As we embark on this new Growth Series together, we encourage you to do the challenge. Ask yourself what kind of soil is in your life. What does God say? Take some time to really reflect on this week's verse. The meditation can also help you in this process. And please let us know how we can be praying for you during this time of discovery. No matter what kind of soil you find in your life, remember that God makes beautiful things, even out of dust.