“For who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to Plough,
To guide our Mind and Pens for his Design?
And he makes base things usher in Divine.”
John Bunyan, the Author’s Apology for His Book, Pilgrim’s Progress
I wrote at the beginning of this year about starting small, starting now when leaning into God’s promises, those urgings from his Spirit that draw us closer to His purpose and plans for our lives. It is easy to become intimidated when we consider those God thoughts, wonder if the change He’s spoken of will ever come to pass. Perhaps it is a ministry gifting you’re pondering. Perhaps it is a story to write, a book that’s inside you, a change you want to see in your personal life. How do we help those come to pass? Or is it more of a partnership?
‘Starting small, starting now’ came from a message at church of the story of Nehemiah and his people rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, one brick at a time. Our pastor’s encouragement was to move slowly and faithfully in the direction God has called us, trusting God while our dreams are fulfilled.
I just returned from a five day trip to Texas for a writer’s festival at a small Baptist college in a small Texas town. It was a delight for my soul to soak up some sunshine after the chill of the mornings, bask in the fun of making music and connecting with folks who are dear to my heart. There were opportunities to grow in my writing as well and be inspired by the words of other gifted folks.
When I returned home to the much wetter, cooler Pacific Northwest, I couldn’t wait to get outside to check the growth in the garden. My world is anchored by the seasons; I recently decided I like winter best. Why? Because all that gray, blank space gives my mind room to ponder. Because I enjoy watching the sometimes infinitesimal growth of the garlic as it spikes bright green towards the sky. The clematis begins to sport buds on the dead looking vine, the asters begin to poke magenta gray sprouts into the soaking soil.
It’s easier to see growth in empty spaces, to appreciate the subtle and slow of sweetpeas returning or the forsythia threatening to pop, a tulip’s leaves curl through the dirt.
I snapped this photo and realized–God’s promises to grow us in our gifts and in His graces depend not on our efforts but on His creation. The life of a bulb or flower or shrub is inside, invisible. Under the ground, in the bare stalks of the tree or sleeping before bursting into tulips or crocus. How that happens is a miracle every single Spring.
So, too, are the promises of God. When He speaks a word about changing you inside or gifting you with His creation to share with others–in a song, a story, a poem or a painting–the birth of it always lies in His power to give life. The challenge we face is in the making room (clearing the soil), letting go (lifting our pruning shears or pens to the sky) and resting (while the seed grows).
It’s the resting and trusting and letting go that is the hardest. But who knows, when we show up every day by watering the soil of our souls in alone times with Jesus, when we give our hands to those ‘base things’ like washing dishes, unpacking suitcases, or tending our gardens, we may very likely turn around and find an explosion of green growth awaiting us.
God’s creation promises may be invisible to our eyes, but that does not mean He is not working. Trust Him in the small steps taken daily. Sit, write, listen, feed your soul, take that walk. Move in the direction of who God has made you and is calling you to be.
Start small. Start Now. There are flowers to smell, bouquets to gather, trees waiting to burst into the landscape that is your life.
“When we are getting into contact with God in order to find out what He wants, dreaming is right… Leave Him to be the source of all your dreams and joys and delights, and go out and obey what He has said.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Feb. 20th