Today I’m digging out 40 bulbs of garlic from our garden, a grape vine, and a blackberry bush. The latter two were birthday gifts for my wife 4 years ago.
We’ve been renting this home that we’re preparing to leave, and our landlord changed his mind about the raised bed garden and surrounding plants that I put in. He wants it all removed and reseeded with grass.
I took the phone call about the garden in a crowded café last Saturday, and I nearly broke down in tears at my table. I can’t tell you what that garden has meant for me, what it has done for my life and for my family, and what it symbolizes to me. I want to try to put it all into words someday, but for now I’m just feeling the ache of that loss.
If we want to move on to the next season of our life together as a family, we need to literally dig up the old stuff and leave this place as if we had never been here.
We’ve moved quite a bit since marrying back in 2002 and moving to Philadelphia. In 2005 we moved to Vermont. In 2009 we moved to Connecticut. In 2011 we moved to Ohio. In 2016 we will move to western Kentucky.
We’ve dug up so many things, packed so many boxes, and left so many people behind from each place. Each time I’ve clung to a promise from God that we were doing this living by faith thing, moving on to a place that we knew we needed to go. We trusted that new life could spring up in each new place we settled.
And so today we’re digging up the life we planted at our home in Ohio so that we can move on to the next thing. I’ve had plenty of chances to get used to this process of planting, uprooting, and moving on, the cycle of death that must precede resurrection and new life.
Among the Bible verses that I wish didn’t exist, there’s this one:
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 NIV
There’s this cycle of life, death, and resurrection that spins on and on in our lives, and each time something comes to an end, I can’t help holding my breath and worrying about the next thing that follows. Will life come out of this loss? What will come next?
Today I’m looking backward at the past provision of God and all of the times that I didn’t think we would make it. As we stepped out in obedience into the great unknown, leaving behind what we knew for certain, we didn’t always find what we were looking for or wanted, but we learned that God was holding us. Isn’t that funny how we want God to hand over what we want, but then we find that God has only wanted us all along? I have pouted and fumed that God’s hands were empty when I reached out to him. Why didn’t God give me what I wanted when I wanted it?
Little did I know that God’s empty hands are there to hold us and to draw us near. When I asked God for the desires of my heart, he showed me that I’m the desire of his heart.