Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Love and Grace (09/11/14)
TITLE: Stratify Shmatify!
By Rachel Barrett
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This grapeless existence promised to be bleak, so a-hunting I did go for seeds to plant in hopes of new vines. But grapes aren't as easy to cultivate as, say, tomatoes. The seeds must be packed into moist garden soil, sealed, and put away undisturbed in a cold, dark place for months. Only after this process, called stratification, will they sprout and grow.
I'm sure that, given a choice, no self-respecting seed would accept such treatment. This inhospitable environment seems counterintuitive to everything it needs for growth. Surely nothing good could come of it.
And at this juncture, I find myself receiving lessons in faith from a humble seed. How often do I balk on seeing the direction in which God is leading me? All I can perceive is a gloomy road, thorn-choked and full of rocks. Loss of a friend. Betrayal. A soul's winter. Walking that way will hurt, and I can't see the end of the road, either.
But He can. Unlike the seed, He never leaves me alone, even in the darkest and coldest of seasons. Through this stratification, He teaches me to lean on Him, only Him.
If I trust in His love, grace will always follow, like the blooming of light at sunrise. My heart's restiveness must be quelled, for deep down in the darkness and cold, unseen, the seed is slowly coming alive – but only in God's time. If I remove the seed too soon from its chilly nest, it will die. I must “let patience have its perfect work” (James 1:4).
Finally, after months of stratification, the time comes to gather up the seeds and plant them. Amazingly, they haven't shriveled into withered oblivion. Instead, new life has begun to break through the seed coats. In their desolate surroundings, some of them have already sprouted. Sure enough, when each one is placed into the garden, watered, and kissed by the warm sun, tiny seedlings burst up through the earth, vibrantly green and tremendously alive.
To me, stratification feels like anything but God's love. But if a seed – or a heart – refuses to submit to the Gardener's hand, so as to save itself from such discomfort, it will always remain alone. If it “falls to the ground and dies” (John 12:24), accepting the molding touch of His love, grace brings an abundant blossoming beyond the wildest of dreams.
Footnote: Scriptures taken from James 1:4, NKJV; and John 12:24, NIV.
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