Celebrating Patience, Preparing for Growth
Even though tomorrow is the first day of Spring, sometimes its arrival is surprising. Barren trees seemingly overnight sprout little green buds on the ends of their branches. Soil previously covered in snow has thawed enough for life to push through. In comparison to the long, cold months of winter, flowers seem to appear rather suddenly.
It’s exciting to see our surroundings revitalized with growth and flowers as the season changes! But flowers are more than just beautiful. They also can double as a metaphor for a way we look at our own seasons of life in our faith. The Bible even uses plant metaphors in both the Old and New Testaments in reference to faith and God’s blessings because nature is observable and widely understood.
Flowers are not visible in winter. Instead, they remain hidden in the ground underneath the snow, slowly growing until it is time to emerge for spring. When looking at our faith through the lens of flowers, winter is a difficult time but so very important to trust God. There are hardships and difficulties that we face, or we are listening to God and waiting to learn what He wants us to do next.
This time of stillness in winter gives our faith, and our flowers, the time to grow and develop with the intimacy of God without the external indicators of growth. Instead, we can focus on knowing that our growth comes from God and nothing else that we do.
The apostle Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Corinthians when he says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, New International Version)
These verses show that even though Paul and Apollos (another leader in ministry who served with Paul) were actively involved in Corinth, only God is able to provide and sustain that growth. It can be reassuring to us to know that even in the times of stillness and little action on our part that God is still at work in us!
So when our faith develops more and the flowers begin to emerge, it is appropriate to celebrate God’s hand in the growth and in the patience that brought us to that point. Recognizing the growth and acknowledging how it happened are wonderful ways to reclaim a hard winter or hard time in our faith. That season looked lifeless, but instead it should be a celebrated testimony of how God had been working under the surface. We can celebrate that season of hardship because we can celebrate patience and God’s blessings.
One of David’s Psalms recognizes God’s blessing after the winter when the growth is visible and the harvest is ready. The Psalm praises God as it says,
“You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.”
(Psalm 65:9-13, NIV)
Even nature is singing out for joy from the growth and abundance that God had blessed the land with. We should take that to heart and praise God for any amount of growth and blessing that He gives!
We’ve grown into spring – now what? With signs of growth, it may be tempting to take a break. We may think that surviving winter was enough work and now that we have flowers instead of frost, there is not a need to keep growing. The presence of growth should not deter us from pursuing further spiritual maturity. No one stops watering flowers right after it blooms. People continue to water the flowers because they want that flower to live and be beautiful as long as it can. Instead, that growth should instill in us the desire and drive to maintain that growth and keep it alive.
Preparation and work are required to sustain the flowers and ensure they continue to grow and bloom. Different flowers in different years will need different things to continue to grow and thrive, but here are three suggestions to help sustain your springtime:
1. Share your seasons with each other.
Sharing the growth we have experienced in spring and how God has moved in our lives in winter is great for celebrating and preparing for growth. Sharing the story of your seasons will keep those lessons on your heart and may even encourage a friend experiencing their own winter. Then ask the person you shared with how God has been working in their seasons… perhaps you’ll be encouraged by their growth too!
2. Be disciplined, but don’t define yourself by it.
Consistency is key, but it isn’t everything. Being disciplined specifically in studying the Bible and developing a stronger relationship with God is crucial for our faith in general and certainly for when we want to support our springtime growth. Plants are watered every day, and as such, we should seek to be sustained by our time in Scripture. However, there is grace if we miss a day or two of reading the Bible. Our devotion and love of Jesus is not determined solely by how often we read the Bible.
3. Pray for strength and future growth.
Prayer should be a significant portion of our worship and relationship with God. Asking God for strength will help to sustain the growth you have experienced. Yet, it is also the perfect opportunity to ask where else God wants you to grow. Do not be afraid to pray bold, challenging prayers to continue to grow in faith.
Some questions before you go…What season are you in? What have you learned in your winters and how are you celebrating your springs? Chat with a friend or have a conversation in the comments!
Happy First Day of Spring!
Scripture taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.