Harvesting Hope

Friends of ours are taking a vacation and invited us to pick the produce from their garden, visit their goats and chickens (my 2 year old’s favorite!), and cut as many flowers as we wish (the 4 year old’s favorite).

august 29, 2015 034

Where to begin?  There’s spicy basil, decadently fragrant, practically begging to come to my kitchen.  Prickly, opinionated parsley.  String beans, gently velveted pods hiding amid the leaves. Sun drenched flowers, faces tilted heavenward in a silent invocation to worship.  Tiny tomatoes, golden orange globes stretched to bursting with the goodness of warm earth and sunshine. Joyous invitations, all, to believe that God is a good giver. It’s easy in the glow of a late summer sunset.

But in the icy cold of early spring, there was no color, fragrance, or feast for the senses.

There was only a handful of shrivelled brown seeds, a trowel, and the cold, wet earth. A season before, some gardener took the dead remains and shook out a few hard, dried up husks. A fistful of hope for a coming harvest. It didn’t look like hope.

He brings life out of dead things.

Isn’t that our hope, as believers in a dead Man risen?

He brings life out of dead things.

The blinding pain of this cold earth makes me want to shrivel right up.  I’ve been afraid to ask the hard questions, afraid to point the accusing finger at a God who says He makes all things good.

Where is the good in this? Can’t I ask that?

Can’t we cry, like David, out of the depths of a pain too blindingly big?  Dare we choke out our questions with mingled anger and grief?

Yes.

I have only to read the Psalms to know that the man after God’s own heart had all these questions and more.  God’s answer?

Himself. The I AM.

Aren’t You grieved, Lord?

I AM.

Aren’t You big enough to prevent this?

I AM.

Aren’t You big enough to fix this?

I AM.

Are You ever going to fix this?

I AM.

And I wonder, as my eyes scan the news of war, and famine, and death, and divorce…mass shootings, children abused and discarded and harvested for their parts…devastating diseases that suck the life and light right out…will You make these into seeds? Some day, oh, could I dare to hope that what’s dead and shrivelled and buried could burst into light and color and fragrance?

I don’t see it, or understand it…but could I believe it?

He warns us, you know, that there are some things that we just can’t understand right now. (Isaiah 55:9) Kelley Latta pictured it as a ceiling that only He can raise. I have resented that, imagined cold condescension. But God is our loving Father, and I think He makes the statement to calm my thrashing heart. It’s an invitation to trust.

Is there any other response possible in light of the cross? How can a heart fathom a Love so canyon deep that the very powers of hell are rendered impotent at the whisper of His name?

On a blood drenched hill, a splintered cross and a mother’s tortured prayers are the seeds planted in the darkest hours of our history. Only this, what is unequivocally anguishing, could sow eternal hope.

In Jesus, we are given a frame through which to view the very worst of what this world can throw at us. Hebrews 6 reminds us that God’s promises are our hope, and hope is the anchor for our storm-tossed souls.

I am invited to believe in His goodness and love. Even in winter’s embrace.

And some day, what we have chosen to believe in the face of cold, painful seasons…will burst forth in riotous harvest colors and we will see.

Oh, how we will see!

Until then, I really do believe…

He brings life out of dead things.

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