The rich soil was cool and soothing beneath my knees, moistening my jeans with the remainder of the morning dew. I felt a smile spread across my lips and released a happy sigh as my eyes scanned the plot of ground surrounding me.
To my right, a cheerful bunch of tomatoes greeted me, blushing shyly amidst their covering of leaves. They were accompanied by rows of stringy green beans and slumbering heads of cabbage. I turned to my left and admired the pregnant watermelon and chubby cantaloupe. A calm breeze brushed through the garden and I could have sworn that it made the leaves and vines wave in my direction.
Drawing in a refreshing breath, I looked down at the neat little row of sticks before me. They were mostly bare and could have easily been mistaken as good kindling material that a child had jabbed into the ground. But I knew better.
With tender care, I reached down and plucked a tiny, white flower from one of the sticks. “Not this year, baby. Right now you need to put all your energy into establishing those roots of yours. Next year you can grow some raspberries for me.”
I moved beyond them to the strawberries, checking to be sure that the deer and rabbits hadn’t been snacking on the leaves, and next to the flowering asparagus on the edge of the garden. Everything was fresh and lovely – just waiting for next year to explode into a huge crop.
I turned back to the center of the garden but quickly froze at the sight before me. As if an unbearably intense heat were consuming them, all the plants were withering before my eyes. Every leaf shriveled up and every piece of fruit turned to mush.
I fell to my knees, shock pouring through my veins. The blood drained from my face and my heart dropped to my dirt-stained shoes. “My plants! My work! How is this happening?” A sob worked its way to my throat but I swallowed it back.
You’ll have to give them up.
I heard the words clearly in my spirit, just as my plants sprang back to normal. Now I knew what was happening.
“Lord? You want me to give up my garden? All the sweat and commitment and hours of digging, weeding, and watering? I haven’t even had the chance to enjoy my raspberries. And next year I’ll be able to pick armloads of strawberries and asparagus.”
You’ll have to give them up. The words repeated.
Suddenly, a U-haul truck appeared on the road in the distance. The rising sun glared off its white surface, causing me to shield my eyes. Hand protruding from forehead, I watched as the truck drove into our gravel driveway and pulled to a stop at our garage. My husband and children began marching from the house with boxes and assorted furniture to load into the truck. I even saw myself helping them.
The scene flashed and we were driving through a new town. Some of the buildings looked familiar but I wasn’t quite sure where I’d seen them. Soon the houses faded into orchards of trees. Acres of apples, peaches, pears, and every kind of fruit tree that I’d ever wanted to plant spread out before the U-haul vehicle.
Crowning it all was a huge two-story farmhouse on a hill overlooking the little paradise. The U-haul truck rolled in front of the house and halted.
The vision blurred and I was again starring at my little raspberry plants. I shook my head, trying to process what I’d seen.
The word echoed through my heart and sent a shiver trickling down my spine. It wasn’t just a word ... it was the name of a town.
I walked into the house later trying to erase the little episode from my head.
“Hey, honey, come look at this e-mail.” My husband’s voice sounded from his office.
My heart pounded abnormally as my feet inched forward. Why did I sense that this wasn’t an ordinary e-mail?
He waited ‘til I was standing behind his computer chair, then tapped the screen thoughtfully with his fingernail. “This lady e-mailed me and asked if I’d consider pastoring her church. And you’ll never guess where it’s located.”
His brow furrowed. “Yeah, how’d you know?”
“Just a feeling. I also think we may be packing up a moving van in the near future.”
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