God’s Faithful Hand of Preservation

I’ve probably mentioned before that I love to dig in the dirt. When I was a little girl, we had a backyard garden for a few years, at least, and I loved watching the tiny plants come up out of the dirt and become “something of substance.” I remember my mother asking me to run out and bring in a few tomatoes or some lettuce for a salad. At least one year, we grew carrots, and I thought they were a lot of fun to pull up.

These days, I don’t do any vegetable growing, but I have for years grown a variety of herbs, most notably basil. This year, as the summer got hotter and the rain became more and more scarce, I did my best to water my flowers, the trees and of course, my basil. But I could tell I wasn’t keeping up with heat that dried up everything. My flowers looked woeful this summer by the time July rolled around, and most of my herbs were significantly stunted by the heat and drought of Summer 2012.

And yet – somehow – my basil has thrived. Several days ago, I went out early in the morning to harvest a bunch of leaves from these exploding little bushes before they began to flower, go to seed and die. I was amazed as I kept pruning and clipping that my bowl was filling with basil, but the bushes looked as full as ever.

It occurred to me, as I sat looking at my bounty, that this was – yet again – just one more example of an outcome that I couldn’t possibly have predicted, assuming that it all depended on me. To me, this photo represents a physical manifestation of God’s abundant and faithful work, even through painful seasons of drought in our own lives, seasons where the heat of day after scorching day threatens to sap our faith and leave us wilted and dying on the vine.

I meet plenty of people going through separation and divorce who well know what I mean when I describe a season of life as being drought-like, but I imagine most of us probably do, too. At some point in our lives, most of us have gone through pain, trial or loss that has caused real suffering. A relationship fails, our health takes a turn, we lose our job, financial decisions turn out to be poor ones, and the ongoing, constant stress of just trying to make it through the day can feel like a season of drought.

Life is full of times of drought, and in those times, it can feel as if the end will never come and relief is unattainable. Or, when it does finally end, we wonder if the damage done by the oppressive heat of that experience will leave us irreparable.

Only in hindsight, as you look back, can you see what you couldn’t when you were in the thick of it. God’s faithful hand of preservation was upon us in those moments…He is surely there.

Though the ground was dry and the heat was intense for such an extended time this summer that all other plant life in my yard suffered greatly, somehow my basil was able to withstand the beating it took with the water it was given. It was…sufficient.

So we too, are sustained by water – the Living Water. We may not realize it as the heat bears down on us, but God is so faithful. One day, you too can look back on that awful season and see an abundance of good done in the face of the drought. Perhaps even because of it. Perhaps having lived through a painful experience, you now feel stronger in your faith, more confident that God really can and will sustain you through the next drought.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons He withheld the rain in the first place.

Joel 2:21-29 (ESV)

Fear not, O land;
be glad and rejoice,
for the Lord has done great things!
Fear not, you beasts of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.

The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

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