The other day I was in Walmart's shopping with friends and I wandered back to the place where they sell plants. A big display was there, with beautiful pictures of what I might expect next spring if I were to take the time to plant some bulbs in my garden right now. Not one noted for patience, I passed them up. My thoughts were: It is not sunny and warm outside, and snow is half-way down the mountains. Do I want to get cold dirt under my fingernails right now and wait seven months for yellow tulips and fragrant hyacinths? Why not just return next spring when the stores are selling ready-to-bloom plants and just bring a few home with me?
But then, a sudden check by the Holy Spirit got the best of me. I knew that He was leading me further:
What is a bulb?
"A flower bulb is really an underground storehouse and flower factory. Within the bulb is just about everything the plant will need to sprout and flower at the appropriate time. Split a bulb in half and you will see this clearly.
In the basal center portion of the bulb are the leaves cradling a baby bud. (In many species, this bud already has the appearance of a flower while still in the bulb!) Surrounding the bud is a white, meaty substance called the scales. In true bulbs, it is these scales which contain all the food the bulb will need to flower and thrive. Anchoring the scales and the floral stalk which holds the bud is the basal plate. This plate at the bottom of the bulb also holds the roots of the plant. The entire package is protected by a thin outer skin called the tunic. All this remarkable organism needs from humans is to be placed in the ground at the appropriate season of the year, given a liberal drink of water and then left alone. The bulb does the rest!" (http://www.bulb.com/basics/whatis.asp)
I got to thinking about how that relates to the subject of Faith.
Bulbs are but the potential of what was, but unless planted, they remain useless. They will dry up and become waste. Faith without works is dead also. Much of life goes by unrewarded in due season because of our failure to let faith-bulbs be buried in our hearts. We love to have what faith produces and greatly admire it in others, but often our experiences with it are based on testimonies of the trials of others...not ours. It is possible for us to temporarily enjoy the fragrance and beauty from someone else's labors, but it remains only that--temporary--until we plant it in our own garden, for we cannot reap where we have not sown. Men and women of faith stir us from the pages of the Bible, but only when the same has been planted in our spirits will we have something to enjoy eternally and to give away to others, which they in turn must plant in theirs.
The bulb of faith, once planted, has the potential to become a spiritual perennial that returns again and again to grace the garden of our lives with glorious fragrance and beauty. The rewards of that first blooming will remain a lifetime testimony to re-assure us during our next long winter of trial. Our first season will produce the new bulbs required to expand on that faith in the days ahead.
Time is involved in the whole process: I must take time to plant when it is not convenient, when around me is bleakness and the bulbs look dead. I must endure the hard winter ahead which tries my faith with long days of silent frustration; ever looking to the very spot where I labored, longing for that day when I suddenly see something emerging through the snow.
But faith holds on, believing it will come--for our hands planted them! How often we fail to remember that "our thoughts are not His thoughts, nor our ways His ways". In the face of everything that appears unrewarding (for the present), Time alters everything. One only need to have lived long enough to look back at life to see how many missed opportunities would have made things turn out differently in our lives---if only we had not looked on dirty bulbs as too much time and trouble.
We may look at our situations as hopeless and even battle thoughts of unworthiness. We may weary at the onslaught Satan wages in our minds and on our bodies, but the bulbs of faith are always there for us to plant. We cannot buy these particular bulbs for any price; Jesus purchased them for us. For every one of us is freely given "the measure of faith". All that God requires is that we plant them, and ward off the predator who would dig them up...even if that "predator" is ourselves.
"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear
on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the
turtle is heard in our land..." (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)
Faith is really a simple subject. It is merely planting and believing that in the fullness of time, spring will surely come in all its glory. For His word has promised, "while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease"--that the Son of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings--and that in even sowing in tears, I will reap in joy.
Glory! Did I just get a whiff of fragrant hyacinth in late September?
Now where did I put my garden gloves?
MARY E. ADAMS