Plant: 1. To put or place something (a seed) firmly or forcibly into the ground so that it can grow. 2. To implant, establish, colonize, and settle into a new locality or environment.
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
Last Sunday at church I was challenged that now is my time to dream again. This Sunday I was presented with a new challenge: It’s time to plant again.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells me that “There is a time for everything that is done on earth…There is a time to plant.” And the time is now.
“Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is the farmer forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds?” (Isaiah 28:24-16)
No farmer plows his paddocks endlessly. There comes a time, the ‘right’ time, to plant the seeds! Therefore:
It’s time for me to stop plowing.
It’s time for me to stop cultivating the soil.
It’s time for me to stop heaping on the fertilizer.
It’s time to plant.
It’s time to grow.
Now, let me just say, I’m not a gardener. My idea of gardening is to get out in the backyard every 3-6 months and pull all the weeds out! In fact, just last week I discovered I had 1 metre high thistles amongst my rosebushes!
My Mum and Nanna were both avid gardeners but the green thumb gene never got passed onto me. I suppose I was never that interested in gardening so they never bothered to teach me. But one thing I did learn from Mum and Nanna is that you can’t kill a rosebush! So, over the years, as we have moved from house to house, I’ve tried to prove this theory wrong!
We moved house a few months ago and I uprooted a 50 year old rose bush from our backyard to move it to our new home. We call this rosebush the “Shenton Rose”, because, when my father in law Barry retired from General Practice about 10 years ago and closed down the surgery (known as Shenton Medical Practice), he removed all the rosebushes that lined the path to the surgery’s front door. These rosebushes had been planted by the previous GP when the practice started some 50 years ago and Tim’s Dad couldn’t bear the thought that they might be pulled up and thrown away when the new owners took over the property. So each rose was lovingly uprooted and re-planted into pots and given to each of Barry’s children.
Now, I love my father in law dearly and I loved the sentimental idea of having a ‘piece’ of the history of Shenton – in the form of a rosebush. Unfortunately, I was totally freaked out that I’d kill it!!!! Knowing my luck (and lack of green thumb genes) I’d be forever known as The Daughter-in-law That Killed The Rosebush! But, proving my Mum and Nanna’s theory correct – so far so good – the Shenton Rose is still alive and (sometimes) blooming! I’ve pruned it each year and each year it grows back. Just. Each year it produces one or two buds and that’s all. But it’s alive! And that’s all that matters.
When we moved I brought this new rose with us to the new house and planted it next to the other existing roses in the garden. And then I ignored it. In fact, I got busy and forgot all about it. (Clearly I forgot about the whole garden, given that I had 1 metre high weeds growing amongst the roses!)
Anyway, as our Pastor was preaching on Sunday morning I was thinking about the Shenton Rose and how many times in its life it has been uprooted and transplanted and re-planted. Just like me! I have moved to a new job. I have moved to a new house. I’ve moved to a new church. And it occurred to me how much this process has hurt. For two longs years I have grieved the loss of our ‘old’ church community. I found myself in a new place and I didn’t feel like I “fit”. I didn’t even know if I was in the right place. But equally I couldn’t hear God calling me anywhere else. So I stayed. Waiting for the day I would feel like I was planted in the right garden.
As a transplanted tree adapts to its new environment, it takes longer for the strong, mature tree (‘mature’ sounds so much better than ‘old’) to be re-established in a new environment because the root system of a mature tree is deeper and more spread out. The process of uprooting a mature tree requires more care and the re-planted tree requires more care too. In fact, when a mature tree is uprooted, transplanted and re-planted it appears to lose its leaves and for a season it may also look as if it is dying.
That’s exactly how I felt!
As a re-planted tree, I was uprooted from one church and transplanted into another. What I could never understand is why the process of putting down my roots has been so painful and why it seems to have taken so long. For a season (almost two years) I have sat, feeling brown, dry, without leaves, withered up, fruitless and yes, even dead.
And then our Pastor dropped the clincher and it all made sense.
I am a pot-bound tree.
My roots have gone around and around inside my pot – encircling each other to the point that no further growth has been possible. I have pushed my roots out into every available place within my pot and now that the pot has been removed and I have been uprooted, in order for the transplant to begin God has to do something to help me adjust to my new environment and help me to ‘fit’ into the new soil into which He is placing me. He has to de-tangle my roots and cut away at some of the old, hardened roots. If He allows me to be re-planted with my roots all bound up together and encircling one another, they will never have the chance to push down into the new soil and receive the nourishment that is now being provided.
With extra care and lots of water, the mature transplanted tree can grow again. It will produce foliage again. It can bear fruit again.
And as our Pastor prayed, God whispered gently, “Nicki, now is the time. It’s time to really plant yourself into my House again. Plant yourself here. In this Church. It’s where you now belong. I have uprooted you. I have transplanted you and now you are being re-planted.”
And I felt it! Spring is here! A new page has been turned. Chapter two has begun! And I feel alive! I feel full of hope. Of promise. It’s time to dream once more and see and believe that perhaps I can bear fruit again.
Sunday’s message may really have been about entering a season of planting, but for me, it was God gently showing me all that He has been doing in my life during this long season. He has uprooted me, transplanted me and re-planted me. And now, in this new environment, He wants me to grow. And I will grow.
Psalm 92:12-15 promises “I will flourish and grow strong (living long, being upright, useful and fruitful), planted in the Lord’s own house. I will produce and bring forth fruit even in old age. I will be green and remain fresh and be full of spiritual vitality – rich in the trust, love and contentment found in God’s grace.”
My time is not up.
My time is not over.
My time is not done.
My time is not finished.
My time is NOW!