I had to re-pot a plant for my mom today. It was very root-bound, producing far more plant than the poor pot could handle. I ended up with two plants, instead of one. It made me think of people, and how often we over-cram our lives full of things that are inherently good and beneficial but end up stifling our growth. How much plant can one pot hold? It can hold a lot, actually, but it shouldn’t, because it’s not good for the plant. How many commitments can one life hold? I certainly know from experience that a life can hold quite a few commitments — but I also know how destructive it can be when there’s too much going on. Too many people, too many hobbies, too many obligations, too many distractions. Too many roots, not enough soil. Something is going to die. What’s dying in your life because you have too much going on? Are there things you can delegate to a new pot?
While I was sifting the dirt for roots and laying aside the ones that could be re-planted, my four-year-old daughter took note of what I was doing. She was horrified. “Mommy! Why are you ruining Gramma’s plant??” I couldn’t help but smile. It really did look like I was ruining Gramma’s plant. How often has it looked like God is ruining my life? But is that in keeping with what I know His character to be? If my daughter had taken the time to reason it out, even at age four, she probably could have figured out that it was out of character for me to ruin something that belonged to someone else. In reality, I was doing the exact opposite; I was bringing freedom to the healthy parts of the plant and sifting the dead parts out. Sometimes it feels like God is ruining my life when really, He’s just freeing me up. Taking out the dead stuff and leaving the healthy stuff behind to grow and spread out a little bit. Fresh air, spacious soil. It’s a painful process but a soul feels so much better — freer — when it’s over.
I was tempted to rush, because I wanted to see the finished product. Not surprisingly, I often try to rush God, too. “Let’s go! I want to be finished already! Process is boring, hard, tedious, painful, TOO LONG.” I’m thankful that God isn’t manipulated by my foolish desires and fleshly impatience. He takes exactly the amount of time that’s needed to properly sift, patiently dig, productively plant.
When I was done, I had a good-sized pile of dirt, roots, and broken stems. My original plan was to put all of it in the trash. But the process of sifting had revealed that there were a lot of root systems still capable of producing sprouts. I couldn’t bear to throw them in the garbage, but there was no room in the pots. So I went outside and found a nice patch of grass out of the way of mowing paths and spread it all out, hopeful that it would sprout in warmer weather. It reminds me of something my aunt told me once, during a particularly rough time in my life: “God wastes nothing.” Not the extra soil, not the myriad roots, not the broken stems. He uses all of it somewhere, often out of my sight and unbeknownst to me, always to His glory and for our good.
Today, I discovered another way that I take after my Father — I like to garden! He’s profoundly better at it, but that’s a good thing. It provides just the motivation that this stubborn and rebellious child needs to ask God to kneel in the dirt with her. Of course He’s delighted to, on one condition — do I trust Him enough to do what He says, even if it doesn’t make sense? Today…I do.
And so the digging begins.