It must die to flourish

I came into 2018 all big and bad, full of hope and excitement, with the word flourish as my guide. With a word like that, which means, to bloom, blossom, grow, or thrive, one might expect things to quickly start coming up roses.

But…

That has not been the case. I’m only two months into the year and what I’m feeling would be better described as apathetic than excited, or motivated. I’m not doing all the things I hoped and believed I would.

Things feel more fragile and cracked and some days I don’t know what I know anymore. Something I’m learning though, is that when we feel God has given us a vision, it’s not always a straight line to get there. In fact, I think we could build a scriptural case to say that it almost never is.

Think of Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David. They all had destinies but they also had a lot of trouble, and a lot of themselves, to work out. I don’t compare myself to the fathers of our faith, but I will say it makes me feel a little better about my own sometimes crooked, sometimes circuitous, path.

The hope that I will live a flourishing life is still with me.

There’s another thing I’m learning: sometimes things have to blow up before they get better. A thing might need to absolutely fall apart, right down to the foundation, so it can be built back up, strong and secure. A seed must fall to the ground and die for the life inside it to begin to grow.

Today I see hope like a nutrient inside that seed. We go around talking about hope, claiming we have it, but usually that’s on our good days. We quote selected Bible verses to others who need them, feeling like we have this hope thing under control.

The thing is we don’t know whether we really have hope until things get hard. When we need hope, is it still there? Do we trust God, really? I think there’s a grace that comes only when it’s needed. Jesus told us not to borrow tomorrow’s trouble. There’s enough for today, right? That’s a way of saying, you don’t have grace to bear what isn’t happening today. When the time comes, it will be there.

The seed has to go down to the dust for life to come forth. We may die a thousand little deaths during our lives because there is so much standing between us and the image of Christ which is being formed in us.

So, while I don’t have answers to all my questions, and some days I’m not sure I know which end is up, what does remain secure is my hope. My hope is the straight line in the midst of what looks like a child’s scribbles on paper.

I am moving toward a flourishing life. He will take me there. God is a good gardener, who prunes, cuts back, transplants, and knows what His plants need. He is cultivating beauty and fruitfulness where things have been barren; there’s a method to what feels like madness.

As He tosses another seed to the ground, and it lays dying, I remember: it must die to flourish. And hope will sustain it.

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