Forcing Things

     Spring is just around the corner here in the Pacific Northwest–there are lilac buds ready to burst, the eager signs of tulips pushing through barren, brown ground, roses putting forth magenta-turning-to-green leaves. 
     Florists and gardeners (I side with the latter) know how to hurry up the bloom and bring  Spring inside, to liven up a home with color. 

     Prune some branches off a favorite shrub; my choices are:quince–hot pink, forsythia–bright yellow, or bridal veil spirea–white.

     Bring these barren sticks into the warm house to fit a vase, fill with warm water and place on your dining table.  Voila! In 5 or 6 days you will have color and blooms.

I’ve been thinking about forcing things lately–trying to hurry up the process of growth in my life. Every area–spirit, soul, mind, body.
At work  I am brilliant and engaging, connecting remarkably with a colleague one day, the next day I am thoughtless and uncaring.
Words spill out in a poem and I am beyond pleased at the ease–the next day I read around at the bounty of wise words and there is agony, ‘Ohhhhhhhhh, I’m way off course. When I will ever get this right?’ 
I wake each day committed to keep my graciousness about me as I converse with my spouse and instead unkind words hang in the air like molasses sticky on the counter….
Things are not as they ought to be…and of course I want to see some growth and change NOW.
I wish I was full blown, completely matured, blooming like these forsythia.
I’m reminded of a very wise Frog and Toad story about planting a garden. 
(From ‘Frog and Toad Together’–The Garden. A. Lobel)
“Here are some flower seeds.  Plant them in the ground,” said Frog,
and soon you will have a garden.”
“How soon?” asked Toad.  “Quite soon,” said Frog.
Ambitious, impulsive Toad runs home to plant his seeds
 then directs them quite soundly,
“Now seeds, start growing.”
Putting his head close to the ground, he says  loudly,
“Now seeds, start growing!”
“The seeds did not start to grow.”
Toad tries shouting.  Frog encourages him:
“Leave them alone for a few days.
 Let the sun shine on them, let the rain fall on them. 
Soon your seeds will start to grow.
Toad looks out the window that night and alas, they have not started to grow. 
He thinks perhaps they are afraid of the dark,
so he carries candles outside and reads them a story.
The next day he sings songs to the seeds.
And the next day he reads poems.
And the next day he plays music.
The seeds still did not grow.
“What shall I do?  These must be the most frightened seeds in the whole world.”
Then Toad felt very tired and fell asleep.
The next morning Frog comes to visit, and startles Toad awake, “Toad, toad, wake up! 
 Look at your garden. It has begun to grow.”
I think of the possibilities in my life like those seeds– I must trust in God for the growth and the change, IN SPITE of all my own efforts.
Even while I’m moving about through my days I can rest in confidence that He will cause the all-by-itself growth of the seeds, and change me in his time, into who He wants me to be.
I cannot force anything to happen by resorting to short cuts. I want the real thing.
2 Corinthians 3:18
New International Version
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 
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11 thoughts on “Forcing Things

  1. Kimberley–I am blessed this was an encouragement to you–yay! I'd like to re-remember the words, too. I love how our Father uses so many things in our world to remind us of His truth–beautiful things take time!
    I'll visit your site soon–Painting Prose looks chock full of good things.


  2. This is such an amazing encouragement. I try to force growth in myself, my husband and my children…but no matter how much I demand it comes in God's timing. Thank you for reminding me to trust in Him. My job is to plant and water the seed, His job is to make it grow, and no amount of impatience on my part can make it come sooner.


  3. I think about Peter's conversation with Jesus — one moment he had it right (“Peter, you're the Rock) and the next, he had it so dreadfully wrong (“Get thee behind me…”) I'm just like that too — have it together one minute, and hopelessly lost the next. If I'd just settle down and plod along in his timing… But I always want to rush it. Beautiful stuff, Jody. Thank you.


  4. I just love frog and toad. Reminds me of a very special friend.

    This is such a great lesson too, my friend. How often have I tried to “force” things before the appointed time? Far too often. Chewing on this one this evening.


  5. I know what you mean. I want growth NOW too, even though I know that's not how God works, as we can see all around us. But yes, we can be confident he IS at work, in the right timing and the right ways.

    And you've inspired me to go cut some forsythia and bring it in before the rain comes today. 🙂


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