Thursday, March 7, 2019

Faith that Grows Among Faded Flowers

by Emily Conrad

**UPDATE: The giveaway has ended. Congrats, Katie!**
Saturday, March 9th is Justice's first book birthday! In celebration, I'm giving away a Kindle (ebook) copy to one person who comments on this post. See below for details, but for now, know that I'm so grateful to all of you for your support this past year--and, truly, stretching back long before that.

The pink flowers on the primrose were faded. In surrounding pots, other plants waved purple and orange blooms, their color more vibrant than the labels of the food products in the nearby aisles of the grocery store.

I’d already picked a purple primrose, and I had an orange one at home. I wanted the pink to vary my collection. Was it too far gone?

I’ve wondered something similar about my manuscripts, new ministry opportunities, and even myself. I look for vibrant health in these areas, but sometimes situations seem faded and dull.

Will this area of my life ever bloom the way it ought to?
Faded flowers, it seems, are everywhere.

But gardening runs in our blood. God started Adam and Eve in a garden. The New Testament is full of farming illustrations. Surely there is hope.

Not that we can bring anything back to life ourselves, but we can plant and water. And through Jesus, we have access to the Master Gardener, the one who causes growth, whether in plants or ministry or spirit and soul.

Through #Jesus, we have access to the Master Gardener, the one who causes growth, whether in plants or ministry or spirit and soul. via @emilyrconrad

I’ve seen Him work, coaxing life out of plants and situations I thought were lost.

My book Justice, for example. Not long after my agent advised me we needed to move on to a new manuscript because Justice hadn't sold, Pelican made an offer on the manuscript. Now, here we are, one year after its publication. He brought life back to something we'd declared dead.

He uses revivals like these to grow my faith.

Remembering God’s past faithfulness is an important step when we’re standing at the gate, wondering if we should follow Him into the garden to get our hands dirty once again.

No figurative or literal wilting flower is too far gone for the God who can breathe life into dust and raise dry bones.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you probably predicted I’d buy that pink primrose. (After all, this plant was much further gone. At least, in initial appearance.)

Like a believer remembering God’s past faithfulness, I remembered my orange primrose lost all its blooms shortly after I brought it home last year. I kept watering it, and a couple of weeks later, new buds appeared. So, yes, if you guessed I'd buy the plant, you are correct. I paid my $2.50 and brought it home.

But, our step into the garden is never the end of the story, is it? One plant, one season, one project is never exactly like the last. Each time, we are challenged in new ways. We face different setbacks. We learn more about God.

Similarly, the pink primrose wasn’t like the orange one. I’d watched the orange plant do well before fading into bloom-less silence. I’d never seen the pink plant flourish. I wasn’t sure it could. As my purple and orange plants popped with one flower after another, I eyed the one that was supposed to be pink, wondering if it needed more than water.

I mentioned this to my gardener father-in-law, and he thought it probably didn’t, so I continued the bland routine of watering regularly. It had worked with the orange plant, but this time, my persistence seemed to do nothing to coax out a bud. How long would this go on? When should I call it quits? What was I doing wrong?

I wonder this about other areas of my life, too. Areas where I seem to be doing the work but find myself waiting and waiting for results. I begin to question my calling, my abilities, and the likelihood of a harvest.

Perhaps I should know by now, but it seems I needed to relearn the truth. Harvests cannot be hurried, nor can they be muscled into existence. Instead, each piece of fruit and each flower teaches again of the sovereignty of God, and of His strength in my weakness. Where I am powerless, He is able.

Jesus calls me to do the work of planting and watering—patiently doing the work. He reserves the growth and the timing for Himself.

Jesus calls me to do the work of planting and watering—patiently doing the work. He reserves the growth and the timing for Himself. #encouragement via @emilyrconrad

I’m grateful that while I continue to work and wait for harvest in other areas of my life, He did cause a fresh pink bloom to grow.

It’s a kind of promise. A reminder, that He is faithful. He is with me in the wait. He provides the seed, the water, and the growth.

He’s placed a watering can in my hands, but only He can pour out the miracle of growth. These opportunities to water a plant, to tend my career, to invest in my relationships, provide me with a front row seat from which I can watch what only He can do.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6, NET

***Congrats to our giveaway winner Katie!***

Giveaway details: One person who comments on this post will receive an ebook Kindle copy of Justice. Comment before 3/14/19. US only. Must be 18 or older and have a valid email address to enter. Winner will be chosen by a random name picker and announced in a comment on this post as well as in the new blog post that goes live 3/14/19. I don't have access to email addresses of those who comment, but if I have your information already or know how to contact you via social media, I'll also attempt to reach you that way. Winner must provide me with their email address by 3/21/19 or another winner will be drawn. Reach Emily via email at emilyconrad @ sbcglobal . net (remove the spaces). Any questions, just ask!

No figurative or literal wilting flower is too far gone for the God who can breathe life into dust and raise dry bones. #encouragement via @emilyrconrad
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Katie Powner said...

I've had plants like that before. In fact, I have a "Christmas cactus" - so called because it's supposed to bloom once a year right around Christmas time. One year, it didn't, and I thought something was wrong. Then, lo and behold, it bloomed at Easter instead! Such a perfect picture of how God is always working behind the scenes and we never know what He is up to.

Emily Conrad said...

I have a Christmas cactus, too. They seem pretty sensitive. I had one with buds on it, moved it to a sunnier spot where I would be able to see and enjoy the flowers better, and that stopped the bloom cold. I love how yours came to life for Easter!

Judy G said...

I enjoyed reading your blog! I also love flowers and gardening. In my experience of growing plants, I have learned so many lessons that parallel with life. It is a true therapy to be part of nature. Congratulations on your book birthday!

Emily Conrad said...

Thank you for reading, Judy! Yes, there are so many parallels between tending plants and life. There's always more to learn!

Carol James said...

A beautiful reminder to wait on God, the Master Gardner Whose timing is always perfect. Thanks for sharing, Emily.

Mary A Felkins said...

True what you said: "Harvests cannot be hurried, nor can they be muscled into existence." YET how often I muscle these things along, lament about the sluggish timing when He has never been too late, too early and, in the midst of what looks like fading flowers, He fulfills His promises and saves the day.

I water. He produces growth. In His good and perfect time. Great post, Emily!

Emily Conrad said...

Thanks for stopping by, Carol! Yes, His timing is always perfect--if only it were easier to trust that in the moment!

From one muscler to another, Mary, I totally understand. So grateful for His faithfulness in giving me His best when I would settle for less.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...


I don't have a place for plants, besides I'm gone too much but these are sure lovely.

Great post :-)

Good luck and God's blessings

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chance! (Emily knows who this is.)

Josie said...

I stopped buying plants because I’ve killed every one I’ve ever had. I’ve even killed three cactus plants... though one was a pot with four in it so I guess I’ve really killed six. Ugh! I received a succulent as an apartment-warming gift in January and guess what? It’s still alive! Fingers crossed! :-)

Emily Conrad said...

Congrats on keeping the succulent alive this long, Josie! I think I've had some success with houseplants because I try so many of them. I've killed a whole bunch of them, including a jade and a cactus in unbelievable style... but those are stories for another post, if I'm ever brave enough to fess up to what happened to those poor plants. ;) I hope your new plant makes it! Thanks for stopping by!

Emily Conrad said...

And we have a winner! Congrats, Katie! I'll email you shortly!