May Week 3 - Plant

May posts #6

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Plant

What is it like to plant a seed? If it’s grass seed you might scatter it from a box. If it’s a daffodil you might plant a few bulbs together. If its a lovely rose bush you’re after, you’ll find the perfect spot with the perfect amount of shade and light so that its buds can bloom to perfection. We sow seeds with varied involvement, but always intentionally… the same must be true with our dreams and hopes. 

If they were scattered onto bad ground which gave them little hope of success, that gardener would not be hired again. If they were put in the darkest coldest part of the garden and not given a fair change to thrive, that gardener would be unsuccessful. A good gardener knows where to plant each seed, each bulb so that it will flourish and bloom exactly how and when it should. A good gardener will use the process of imagining, preparing and planting to achieve their vision… they know that each stage works with the former and the next to achieve the end goal… a realised dream… a hope come to life. 

So, as the work is done in our hearts to prepare us for the seed of our hope, we can be sure that we are building up to this moment - the moment the seed can be safely planted in a foundation formed for its success. 

Planting the seed is different from holding hope. Hope is, by definition, believing for what we can not yet see. Planting a seed is different. It marks the beginning of the next stage of the journey… a seed is a physical thing. It is quantifiable and visible. It marks the end of preparation, and the beginning of growth. It is hopeful and exciting

We watch the gardener carefully plant this very real seed into the furtive ground that has been carefully prepared and out hearts can safely swell in anticipation of what is to come. 

Now it is real! Now we can see it! There is an actual real seed... we are infinitely closer to seeing them blossom before our eyes. We KNOW that the seed of our hope is actually there... it is planted. It is safe. It can actually happen.

But. Here’s the hard part, here’s the catch... in this journey of hope to reality we’re not beyond trusting, we’re not beyond waiting. Once a seed is tenderly planted by the gardener into its carefully constructed home soil, can you see it? ....no.

To plant is to trust. We trust in the knowledge that the seed of our hope has been set up for up for success in its cozy enriched soil home. We trust that the seed has all it needs to grow as it should. We water it in with one last prayer, adding the last ingredient it needs to thrive.... 

Now, stand back and watch what happens. 

Dig into PREPARE

 

May post #5

So you’ve read the PREPARE email which has set you up for the week, but you wanna dig a little deeper into those quiet time prompts, or have some juicy bible passages to think about?

Well… here we are. 

(side note, if you click to the main hope&grace website you’ll find links to sign up for emails if you haven’t already… I mean, they’re pretty great :P)

Using the Real Talk section of this week’s email as a starting point, I thought some pointers might be helpful 

Firstly, as a reminder… 

Real Talk:

If we trust God in our lives, we trust him with this process too. Remember that this is a process that applies to all of nature... and who set it into motion? God did. He puts in front of us so that we can SEE how he works. So we can see that the process is worth it, fruitful, and full of hope. 

The bible calls God the great gardener. John 15:1 says that God will prune what’s needed to make sure the plant is fruitful. If we are the plant, and our hopes are the flowers, this season can feel like pruning. God also talks about himself as the potter. In Jeremiah he talks about being unafraid to break a pot if it’s not as it should be, and reforming it to be something God himself takes delight in. If we’re the pot, we can trust the potter to do the painful and sometimes shocking work of breaking what is unhelpful, in order to shape us into what he designed. 

The process of preparation can be brutal, gruelling and painful. It can feel like winter or a midlife crisis. It can happen loudly or quietly, publicly or privately. However, whenever, it happens, you can trust that God is in charge of it. And, that just as we prepare the garden as well as we can for our plants, he takes delight in our willingness to let him work in us... because, ultimately, his care is unsurpassable and his intention is always for our good. 

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So, why PREPARE? 

Why is this process so hard? Why can’t we just wish for a pony and have one turn up on our doorstep?

When we invite God into our dreaming process, like we did last week, we begin to see that the whole point of the thing is not for us to have what we want. If we’ve given our lives to God, and he is on a process of teaching us what he intends our lives to look like, we quickly realise that it’s not about us at all… its about Christ.

In the New Testament it is made clear that God at work in us is not for our comfort, it’s for his glory. God uses us as a canvas to paint a picture that glorifies his name and his son, Jesus in and through us.

The purpose of our lives is not to buy a bigger car and build a swimming pool, however wonderful those may be (and many of us may end up with those things - which is great!) No, the point of our lives is to be transformed piece by piece into the image of Christ… into the version of ourselves that God intended us to be in the first place. Into the wholeness of YOU, in the wholeness of Christ, to the glory of the Father.

That’s why, if we really dig into God and allow him in, to plant his dreams for us in our hearts, rather than cling to our own (a LIFETIME’S WORK by the way… heaven knows we’ll be learning this until we get there!), we are marking on a process that will mark and change us for ever…

It’s hard work. And it hurts, like those broken pots.

But if we let him, it’ll be the Joy of God to work in your heart…

If you want to dig in more, here are some things that may help you explore this a bit more (don’t just take my word for it!)...

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First things first… 

All of this is optional, but if you wanted to delve into these areas, perhaps these would be useful - 

  • One excellent drink 

  • One comfy chair 

  • One music player 

  • One bible (paper or electronic)

  • One notebook 

  • One writing device 

  • Some alone time 

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Bible verses.

Take these as a starting point… But please don’t just take my word for it - look into them in your own bible, read around them and see what God is saying to you through them.
I believe that these hold promises for your life, and will allow you to see God as master craftsman, at work in the process of preparing your heart and life for what he has for you. 

  • John 15:1+2 - ‘I  [Jesus] am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch  in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:5) ‘I [Jesus] am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…’

  • Jeremiah 18: 2-6 - (v. 6b) ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…’

  • Isaiah 64:8 - ‘Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.’

For when you’re in the trenches of the preparation.
            These verses have brought comfort to my heart in such times.

  • Romans 8:28- ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called to his purpose.’

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ (The Message translation)

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Music. 

These songs may help… 

  • Turn your eyes upon Jesus

  • Potter and Friend - Dante Bowe, Jesse Cline

  • Another in the Fire - Hillsong

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Friends, as I wrote these emails and structured these posts for you, I felt God invite me on this reminder journey too… with you. I think he wants us all to be reacquainted with his process of bringing about change and growth in our lives… and I know that with the current season I am walking through, I need this reminder more than ever. 

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So, together, shall we step in?

Pop a comment below if you’re IN with me… it would be wonderful to know who’s on this journey too. 

You are strong and brave… 

Let’s go. 

Anna xxx