This article was first published here on March 5th 2018.
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (Romans 8:22-25).
As parents and amateur gardeners, we often see parallels between the development and needs of our children and the nurture, care and pruning required in tending a domesticated garden. The demands of feeding, providing, training and attention are great and sometimes in the interim one sees little fruit. In fact, during the winter season, many of the plants in our garden appear downright dead. There are days when it feels that all the care and instruction to our children has gone into one ear and out the other. And then a new bud appears on the branch. Or we hear our children having a rare moment of calm conversation between them, or with someone else - and some nugget of wisdom that we have taught them comes sweetly out of their mouths in their own delightful paraphrase. And just when we've all but lost hope - our faith is reborn.
Last year one of the plants we bought was a little purple hyacinth. Such a funny name for a lovely rather simple and straightforward flower! It had three flower clusters and we enjoyed them until all the flowers died. I (Hannah) put the flowerless bulbs outside on the porch to deal with them later and forgot about them. In the fall, just before the hard winter arrived, we were cleaning away some of the garden debris so that we wouldn't have to deal with it after the rains - dry junk is so much easier to deal with than wet junk. I was about to toss the dead bulbs into the trash bin when I thought to peel some of the outer layer off of one of the bulbs. To my delight, inside I found a tiny green sprout, which would not have surprised me if I was a more experienced gardener. I felt as though I had just discovered a treasure. I proceeded to peel away at the others and discovered numerous little hyacinth "babies". I planted them in an available flower box, and have been watching them all winter. A few weeks ago, I noticed that they have all shot out of the bulbs and the bashful light green leaves are reaching eagerly towards the light. The purple flower clusters have yet to appear, but I am hopeful.
Hope is the fuel which propels us forward on our journey in life, on our journey in faith. We see in the scriptures that Creation itself is waiting for us to be revealed as the sons (and daughters) of God (Romans 8:19), for our adoption into sonship and for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). This is the process we are in. This is the journey we are on. As Jewish believers who live in the land of Israel we are poignantly aware of that groaning of Creation for our fellow Israelis to enter into the redemption that Yeshua's sacrifice has bought for us.
For us as a community at Tents of Mercy, it has been a season of pruning and growth, death and new-life. As 2018 began we pointed ourselves towards the goals of discipleship, healthy spiritual growth, and breakthrough into new spiritual ground. This process involves various challenges, but we stand assured that He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it. Resting in that hope, we are entering into a new season. God's timing and season always amaze me. Even though I am a late learner, in hindsight, what I have always found to be true is that He has made all things beautiful in their time. As such, when He brought our people out of Egypt to birth us through the split waters of the Red Sea; He knew spring was the best season for that. Passover is a holiday of hope coming into fulfillment.
In light of that hope, as Passover draws close - we increase our prayers for the spiritual rebirth of our nation. We nurture the hope within us that our unsaved family members, friends, neighbors and communities will come to know the saving grace of the Messiah. In addition to prayer, as a congregation we are also getting ready to do some practical tending of the needs around us. This year, as every year, we will be giving out holiday food baskets before Passover to new immigrants, Holocaust survivors and needy families in the city. This spring we will be packing and distributing 850 baskets! This is especially exciting for us as we do it in partnership with all of you who support us and it is a physical manifestation of the hope of which we speak.
People need hope; it is one of the commodities so lacking in the world today. We have that hope. We are like that seasoned gardener who could have told me exactly what would happen to the hyacinth and what care it needed. We who know of the hope to which we are called (Ephesians 1:18), should be God's gardeners on earth - watering, fertilizing and tending His harvest and pointing the way to the Son.
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There have been comments to this article ...
9:52am 06Mar18, Tom Dolph: Thank You! That's a very good analogy. I'll remember that. And I'm not even a gardener. I'm sure those who are found it even more inspirational.
12:09am 09Mar18, Martha C Johnson: Timing is so appropriate - I just birthday gifted my friend with 3 purple hyacinths. I always wanted one ... so I gave her one. She is quite the gardener. Thank you for this.
TENTS of MERCY,