I planted some lantanas in my front yard earlier this spring. Their small red and yellow blossoms were the perfect pop of color for an otherwise monochromatic yard. The first few weeks after planting them, I couldn’t stop gazing at the tiny blossoms. I’d sneak away into the guest room to catch a glimpse of them in the morning and let my eyes linger on them whenever I left the house. Seeing their tiny splash of color made me happy. It’s funny how simple things can bring so much pleasure.
Planting those flowers a few months ago made me realize what a good time of year it was to plant in general—and not just in a literal sense. Last year, the world was thrust into a deep, dark winter as the coronavirus swept over the globe and changed life drastically for society as a whole. Many of the plans and dreams that we had sown as seeds a few months earlier never got a chance to blossom or even sprout. They stayed buried beneath the surface as the pandemic blanketed the world in heavy snow. With mandated quarantines and other restrictions, many of us all but hibernated, wishing away the long months that felt like winter to our hearts with no end in sight.
There has been a shift in weather as of late, however. The seasons are changing, and the deep winter is bidding its farewell. The snow has been melting, giving way to spring, and our garden’s soil is thawing so that it can birth new hopes and dreams.
What will you plant this season? Will you be able to revive the seeds sown last year? Or will you need to start afresh, with a new vision for your “garden”?
As we transition from winter to spring, whenever that might be for each of us personally, let’s take time to ponder these questions, prayerfully seeking God’s guidance in our “planting.” The garden that we imagined for our lives might look different than what we may have expected over a year ago. Some hopes and dreams may be too frostbitten to revive. But even so, God can make a beautiful garden out of the life that He is giving us in this present moment. He undoubtedly has already sown lessons, values, and a deeper hope within us as a result of the winter that we have weathered. We have only to tend to these seedlings and to watch God bring growth as a result. And we have only to cooperate with Him in further planting, watering, and weeding as we watch our gardens begin to blossom. So, let’s think about planting again as we enter this new season. Let’s give God the soil of our lives so that He can sow seeds within us that will bring forth a harvest for His praise, and let’s put in the work to tend to each new planting of the LORD daily, trusting that, as we faithfully toil, God will bring forth a bountiful harvest in due time.
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
It seems that we, as citizens of the United States, decided that a worldwide pandemic was the opportunity we needed to finally make good on our New Year’s resolutions—the ones that we had failed to accomplish all the other years.
Perhaps the extra time we perceived we would have upon beginning a quarantine caused us to think this way. Or perhaps we had seen far too many movies where the Americans rose above impossible situations in heroic fashion, thus saving the day. Whatever the case may have been, people started to make goals of what they would accomplish during their time in lock-down. Some people wanted to learn a new language. Others wanted to master their kitchen skills. Others had fitness and health goals.
As I considered people’s goals in light of this globally trying time, I knew that I could only do one thing—I quickly jumped on the bandwagon, scrambling to form some goals of my own.
I couldn’t figure out which ones to set right away. I imagined, however, that I would walk out my front door come the end of the quarantine in the best shape of my life. My neighbors would naturally be impressed by how toned I had become, and my friends would be equally amazed later on when I casually mentioned all I had accomplished during the quarantine.
I called my younger sister around this time so that she could help me determine what goals to set (by now, I should have realized that fostering true humility needed to be first on my list), and as we talked for a while, she pointed something out to me.
“You realize that your life hasn’t changed that much as a result of a quarantine, don’t you?” she asked matter-of-factly.
I could feel the excitement within me begin to deflate as I seriously considered her question. I honestly hadn’t thought about that and didn’t want to. I wanted to believe that I could achieve great things in the next weeks to come. Several weeks later, however, I was thankful for her observation since the only thing I had gained from my time in quarantine was a few pounds. Keeping my sister’s words in mind helped me to feel better about my lack of achievement. It gave me a more realistic outlook on life.
As we end this month, some of us may be lamenting all that we lacked to achieve this year. 2020 may seem like a big waste due to our unmet goals and derailed plans and dreams. And although most of us are probably relieved to put the last twelve months behind us, our regret over how we responded to the events and situations of this year may be tainting the joy and excitement that could fully be ours as we enter into a new one.
This was my experience the end of 2019. After a hard year as a family, I was looking forward to a great 2020 (cue the laughter). My excitement was hampered, however, by knowing how poorly I had responded to the difficulties of the year. Nonetheless, a Bible verse led me to believe that the year had not been a waste. I started to recognize, in fact, that with God, nothing is wasted, and this year has been no exception to that.
Although we may have wasted time or failed to make the most of each moment, God is able to redeem the time. Perhaps He has been working in our lives this year in ways that we have yet to discover. Consider the following possibilities:
He has been making a treasure out of you.
By December of 2019, I came to the realization that God had been making a treasure out of me when I heard the following verse over the radio:
And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you.”
Hearing this verse changed my perspective about the year. It made me realize that, instead of wallowing in regret over my sinful responses, I needed to see the sin that had surfaced in my life like dross that surfaces in gold. God wanted to make me more like His Son, and if He was to do so, then He needed to draw the impurities out of me by allowing me to see them.
If you’ve come to the end of this year more aware of your own sin, then perhaps you need a change of perspective as well. Maybe you need to thank God that the dross in your life is surfacing instead of giving into regret. After all, becoming aware of impurities is part of the purification process. So, let’s trust that God is making a treasure out of us as He causes the true treasure of His Son to shine through us.
2. He has been planting seeds in you.
When I was fifteen, I begrudgingly started taking Spanish classes to fulfill the mandatory two years of a foreign language at my high school, and God started to plant seeds in my young heart as a result. He gave me an ability to learn the language with ease, and as I continued to learn, He gave me a heart for Mexico and a growing confidence that He would send me there as a missionary someday. Three years later, I got the chance to go on my first mission trip to Mexico, and a few years after that, I moved there to work as a missionary for the very first time.
Looking back at high school, I would have never guessed how significant my Spanish classes would be. God took something that seemed meaningless on day one to change the entire trajectory of my life, and I’m so very grateful.
This year may have seemed to you like day one of what Spanish class was to me. You may have begrudgingly lived through it because it became a required course for your life this year, and you’re hoping and praying that the world gets waived from a second required year. What you may have yet to realize, however, is the seeds God has been planting in your heart as a result of the lessons He’s taught you this year. Though you may not see the fruit of those seeds for months or even years to come, God has planted them, and their harvest will be bountiful. And in the beauty of the bounty, you will be able to look back at this year and recognize how significant it really was, and you will be grateful.
It takes faith to believe that something like that can come from the seed planted this year or to trust that a true treasure is being formed, but that’s the very life God calls us to live, so let’s truly have faith that, with God, nothing is wasted. We will someday fully see the work of His hands in this year.