It’s the time of year in Colorado when the days get warmer and spring seems to be trying to push through winter. Some call them “teaser” days because there is plenty of snow still to come, but it does restore hope that spring might finally come one day. I love gardening and tending to our back yard, and these warm days tempt me outside to start work on preparing for the new planting. The planting is a time of expectation, watching for green shoots with hope and excitement about the harvest later in the year. But first must come to cleanup from last year. I never have the heart to work on it in the fall and winter, except for maybe pulling a few dead plants out of my garden beds. The real work comes now—cutting everything back so it can come back with a flourish.
When my husband and I bought our current house, I asked the former owner to walk me around the back yard and tell me how to take care of it. She and her husband had done such an amazing job of planting it and making it beautiful, and I didn’t want to ruin it. The thing I remember distinctly was when she told me that in the early months of the year, I should cut everything down to the ground and let it come back up. She said that’s how everything would grow better. I stared at her in horror, and couldn’t wrap my head around it.
When the next year arrived, I stood out in the back yard with my clippers and a weight of incredible trepidation. What if I cut it all down and everything died? What if I hadn’t remembered what she said correctly? I finally convinced myself that this was what she had told me, and went to work. With each cut, I grew more and more convinced that my yard was going to be a desolate wasteland thanks to my pruning. And it was a couple of months before anything really proved me wrong. Every time I looked outside, I wondered how on earth I could have been so stupid to destroy the back yard.
Spring came, as it does, and new life began all over the yard. By July, my back yard was a beautiful jungle of plants—flowers, grasses, trees all showing off their colors. I was amazed every time I walked outside at the new discoveries of plants that the former owner had organized to bloom in succession so each month brought different colors and shapes to the yard. Although I had cut it all down, it was the cutting back that allowed it to spring forth with such plenty.
In the summer of last year, a new friend sat in that same back yard and prayed for me. She reminded me that just as my yard required pruning and cutting back, my life often looked similar. It looked like I had mowed it all down—all the growth that had happened, all the work God had done in the past season, all gone with the cutting of the late winter. And she looked me straight in the eye and said “Go ahead—cut it down. Jesus is going to grow a jungle in here!” She pictured growth springing up like a rainforest, surrounding us with beauty and color. She saw God’s work in our lives as just that—a miraculous springing up of life when it looked dead and barren. For the work we do is His work, with His power, His strength, His Life. My own trying and effort is mowed down as old news, and sometimes that seems hopeless and painful. But wait, my friend. If your life feels like it’s been cut down to the ground, be ready. It is mowed down to make way for new, amazing Life that will surround you with sweetness and fragrant aroma. So, live with expectation. It may take a little while, and maybe longer than you’d like. But just as the plants look dead in the winter but are preparing for a springing forth of abundance, so God’s work often seems gone while getting ready for the new thing that He is doing. Don’t lose heart. Wait and rest before Him.
“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6