“You know that it’s July 17th, don’t you?” my wife, Diane, asked me sweetly yesterday morning.
“Ye-e-e-s…” I replied, drawing out the one syllable word for several seconds as my mind raced furiously to recall what important date it was.
“Do you know what that means?” she inquired, a question that opened up a pit of confusion and dread under my feet as I desperately tried to think of why it was important.
“Um… well, it’s the day before our son’s birthday,” I ventured (I generally avoid using our children’s first names in any public articles).
“Well, yes, of course,” she answered, although I realized with an inward groan that his birthday wasn’t what she was talking about. “And I think we’re ready for that… cake and presents and all.” She paused… looked at me with amusement in her eyes. “But do you know why else it’s important?”
I sighed miserably. I hadn’t passed the test. I just had no idea why it was important. Taxes weren’t due, it wasn’t an anniversary, or anyone’s birthday, or anything else obvious to me.
She finally let me off the hook. “It’s time to dig up more garden!” she exclaimed with joy.
“Now, see, that’s not fair,” I retorted. “How am I supposed to know that? That’s not even on my radar!” I stopped as my mind suddenly comprehended what she’d said. “Time to dig up more garden?” I sighed again, only this time the misery had exponentially increased.
Once again the ever-vivacious green-thumb of my wife was driving my sickly-yellow thumb out of hiding so that both could be plied to the task of tilling up soil… just in time to plant pea seeds this week and then, in about a week, seeds for lettuce, carrots, and spinach.
I am not an agriculturalist by any stretch of the imagination (you probably guessed that already), but Diane’s stepfather, having retired from the US Department of Agriculture, was both a well-spring of inspiration and the catalyst of perspiration as he puttered about in his pet garden every year, involving his entire household in the venture.
And so I now find many of those principles are being resuscitated in our humble little vegetable plots.
There was a temptation for me to simply nod my head in compliance, awed over what appeared to me to be the divinely endowed botanical wisdom given to my dear wife. But I dared to ask, “And how does one know when it’s time to do plant seeds? Is it like geese flying south for the winter? You just know it’s time?”
She laughed. “No, you goose. I’m just guessing that a hard frost might come as early as a little before the middle of October - like it did here a couple of years ago. And then I count backwards the number weeks necessary to allow time for harvesting whatever it is we’re growing. Like 11 weeks for carrots or spinach.” She took my arm and pulled, my feet reluctantly responding as I followed her into the back yard to the garden boxes. “Enjoy!” she said with a smile, thrusting a shovel into my hand before she turned to begin the work of suckering tomato plants.
As I began the “enjoyable” work of digging up more garden space, I reflected a bit on God’s timing as He works in our lives. It should occur to each of us that our God sees the entire scope of time from His vantage point and involves Himself in our lives in keeping with not only what has happened in our pasts, but with how He plans to bless us in the future.
If you spend much time in God’s Word, you will surely begin to see that the Lord’s activity over the space of millennia, although at times seemingly mysterious and inexplicable if viewed merely from immediate circumstances, always had reason and purpose guiding it and always was in sync with His eternal plans.
Take for example Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, who was sold into slavery in Egypt. This event, although an evil deed contrived by jealous brothers, was permitted by God so that those same brothers, their families, and ultimately the destinies in store for their descendents might be preserved beyond the cataclysm of famine and drought that would soon beset the world. Indeed, it not only preserved them, but preserved the channel through which would come the Savior, Jesus Christ!
The Scriptures tell the tale, time and time again, of events that could have gone all sorts of directions, but somehow always ultimately led towards the grand designs that God has in mind. I consider this no small source of comfort for even though you and I live in times of great confusion and turmoil, God is nevertheless still in control and will work out His divine purposes according to His eternal schedule.
If I were the one in charge of gardening at our house, I’m afraid that things would be a disaster. I’ve no mind for it, nor have I much inclination to learn it. That’s why Diane is the one who oversees gardening developments here. She plans what we do today, in regard to planting, on what she believes we need to expect down the road. Because she is committed to seeing a harvest this fall of various vegetables, she and I planted yesterday!
And think of what it means to know that our God is infinitely committed to there being a harvest of spiritual fruit in our lives! Since He knows EXACTLY when our world will be confronted with spiritual frosts, moral droughts, and floodings of fear, He knows EXACTLY what to do today to prepare us for them.
Take heart that our God is right now, spade in hand, preparing the soil of our lives for what is to come.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).