She holds the tiny plastic cup with both hands as she proudly shows off her victory garden. Her class, all six of those little fours, spent the morning exploring what life was like on the home front during WWII. Their activity that day was planting green beans to represent the victory gardens that so many people relied on during those long war years to sustain themselves, both heart and stomach.
I peer down into the dirt, but all I can see are three shriveled brown beans buried deep in a discarded plastic yogurt cup.
My teacher says we just have to water it and the plant will start to grow.
I am doubtful.
But she is eager with excitement, so she floods the cup from the faucet. We pick a sunny spot on the kitchen window sill and wait with guarded anticipation.
She is impatient.
It has become her little life's goal to see this plant grow and produce beans of its own.
But how will the seed know what to do?
How will it know it is suppose to come up out of the dirt and grow up tall?
All day long, all these questions. The whys and the hows of life? I struggle to condense biology into the language of a four year old and wonder why don't they teach you this sort of thing in the parenting class at the hospital when you are so blissfully round and ignorant as to what lies ahead?
Because in each tiny seed, God puts all that little seed needs to know how to grow inside. When the season is right in the spring time, the weather warms from the sun and the rains fall to the earth, God whispers "now" and all the little seeds hidden in the earth start to grow.
Oh, she says, like magic.
Well, I struggle, sort of like magic, except that magic isn't real, but His power is.
He is mighty like that. He can fit a world of wisdom into a tiny little space.
It doesn't take long. On morning three, we wake to find a white curl emerging from the dark earth.
This thing that is breaking free from the brown, shriveled hull in which it has lived for so long looks unrecognizable.
She is esctactic and I am amazed at how quickly this plant is growing up strong. Each morning we wake to find it taller and bending toward the sunlight.
It doesn't hit me until a week later, while I'm outside walking in search of a clearer head, the only few moments of the day that are all quiet and mine:
The same manner in which He calls to life the beans and flowers and trees is the same way He breathes life into our hearts.
The soil and the sun and the rain, it is all so familiar.
When we stand alone in the sun of His glory and holiness, the against the Law, we shrivel and die. All that He has spoken in our hearts, the little seeds that lie dormant in the dirt, are worthless without the rain. We do not stand a chance in the sun without the Son, the grace rain that washes down and floods us with mercy. It is actually the grace that enables us to grow, not the law we struggle to keep or the perfection we seek to attain by our own merits.
I am reminded that all of my stunted growth and frustration at lack of fruit can't be fixed by trying harder, but by resting in grace. If grace rain is what awakens and stirs the seeds faith to growth, then why can't I truly believe once and for all that:
He said to me, (to ME!) "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
I long to plant a victory garden of my own. I've been tilling and weeding and working hard in the sun.
I find it hard to accept the grace without perfection to offer up on my end.
But there is my mistake, in the work and not the rest. I will choose to grow by resting in the work that has already been done by the Son instead of straining so hard in the sun.
The hard part has been already been accomplished. I am only called to rest in Him and watch His "magic" stir these seeds to grow in grace. So I will offer up my weaknesses and a lifetime of thanksgiving and watch in awe as He produces a victory garden in my very own discarded plastic yogurt cup.