The previous owner of my home was a gardener. There is an 8 x 16 plot in the back that used to be a vegetable garden. All that remained when I moved in were 9ft. tall overgrown asparagus ferns and a myriad of weeds.
This past weekend I took my first pass at cleaning up that plot. I had hoped to get further along, but ran out of time and enthusiasm as the temperatures warmed up. I made progress, but it is probably only noticeable to me. The weeds still abound, the boarder timbers need repairing, and I am far from ready to plant and even farther from enjoying the fruits of my labor.
And yet I am satisfied. I labored. I made some progress. I am one step closer to my goal.
I think sometimes when we ask (okay, beg) the Lord to work in us we forget there is a process by which he works.
Perhaps we long to see some result, some fruit in our life. We long to be at peace, content, full of hope, joyful, courageous, humble, gentle, or compassionate. We go to prayer and plead, “Lord, make me such and such.” Days go by, perhaps weeks and months and we feel no closer to the fulfillment of that prayer than when we began.
Perhaps we long for some big change in our life – a graduation, a new job, a spouse, a child, a home, a reconciliation with a loved one, a vibrant community to share our faith with. We go to prayer and plead, “Lord, I want such and such.” And it seems that God is still. He is silent. He is not at work.
This weekend’s work in the garden reminded me that there is a process by which real work is accomplished. There is the clearing out of the old, the digging up of the unnecessary or harmful, the stirring up of the dull, the planting of the good, the feeding and nurturing of the new, and then the enjoyment of the growth.
Though we’d sometimes rather skip straight to the enjoyment, there is a process. The fact that we don’t see the results or notice all the efforts does not mean God is still. He is always hard at work in those who come to him in prayer!
As this Lenten season draws to a close may our eyes be opened and our hearts be comforted. May we trust the Lord is at work. There is a process. He has a plan. He is clearing, digging, stirring, planting, feeding, and nurturing. And someday soon we shall enjoy!