I could see it in my mind - a yellow border of daffodils surrounding our Low Country ranch house. I planted hundreds of them one October, and sat back, waiting for the green tips to push up. But the United States Immigration Service had other ideas, and some complex bureaucracy meant we had to leave our adopted homeland before I saw any crop of flowers.
We moved back to the UK, and, with a three month old strapped to my chest, I planted again, this time in a chilly Victorian house overlooking rugged moors, where it rained every day and I missed my old life. I planted some crocus bulbs under the pear trees, more out of desperation than hope.
Spring came round again and I’d missed them flowering too. We’d already moved to a village outside London, answering a call to help grow a church from scratch. Our new house was brand new and tiny, the garden empty, bare and brown. I bought grass seed, bags of bulbs-pink tulips, white narcissi, bright yellow daffodils, and began to water. God gave us deep, healing friendships, and the church began to grow. I still didn’t get to enjoy any flowers though – before they had bloomed, we’d moved again, just a few miles away into community with another family of five. We filled that ancient house and garden with people, sharing stories of life and loss with guests from all over the world. The family we lived with was gentle and humble, restoring our faith in partnership. I started a weekly support group for new mums living far from home and family.
We only had a year’s lease, and so when my daughter asked me, come October, where we should plant this year’s bulbs, I sighed, tired of planting things I never saw flourish. But she insisted (‘it’s a tradition”) and so we planted a few white hyacinths around the bird bath by the kitchen window.
A few months later, as we followed the removals lorry out of the sixteenth century walled garden, my last glance was at the bird bath, where a neat row of bright green shoots was pushing up through the earth, bursting with white petals.
A year on, and we haven’t moved for a whole year. The church is thriving, missional communities spreading out, the business we started is growing too, taking discipleship into boardrooms and companies. The two hundred daffodil bulbs we planted in this garden are just about to bloom. God grew all this in His own time. I can’t wait to see some flowers.
Are you a little weary from your digging and plowing, the anticipation, the dashed hopes? All those transitions, all that work. It’s draining, year in year out, to have little more than a glimpse of color around a corner.
Don’t give up.
Don't measure your fruitfulness by how much you're reaping - that's God’s business.
Take a deep breath and just keep sowing.