Throughout last year, I had this feeling that I was like a flower bud which was just about to burst into bloom. I wasn't sure what that “bloom” would look like, but I felt a sense of excitement and anticipation at what the coming year would bring.
Then came the year.
It brought loss of nearly every kind to my family. Loss of financial security, loss of a home, loss of innocence, loss of a loved one, loss of ministry and loss of my physical strength. The only thing that seemed still strong was my marriage.
So much for blooming.
I felt instead as if someone had taken a bat and smashed my bloom to smithereens before it had the chance to blossom.
However, today God gave me a picture that is quite different. I have not been smashed beyond repair. I think instead that life has simply dumped a load of dung onto me. That doesn't sound good, but it really is!
My mother is an excellent gardner. Growing up, she had flowerbeds, house plants, and vegetable gardens. Everything green flourished under her care. Part of her skill was knowing when and how much to fertilize her plants. The fertilizer nourished the plants so they produced beautifully, whether it was berries, vegetables or blooms.
We didn't know the methods behind her fertilization schedules, but there was never any question to when the fertilizing had occurred. It seemed there was a direct but inverse correlation between the fertilizer's effectiveness and its smell.
The better it worked, the worse it smelled.
The indoor plants received a noxious-smelling substance called “fish emulsion.” I'm not sure what the emulsion part was, but the fish part was pungently obvious. It smelled like it was a syrup concocted from decayed fish parts. Phew! Once every few months our house reeked of it--and our African violets were gorgeous.
The outdoor plants received a heartier, less exotic treatment: cow manure. You can imagine how things smelled outside our place when it was fertilizing day! Eau de barnyard. The thing is, we had some gorgeous flowerbeds! Something about dousing plants in poop brought out their beauty.
With this lovely visual in mind, I've re-worked that picture of myself as a smashed flower. This year, life has dumped a lot of manure on my bloom. However, I still can wait patiently in expectation because I know:
I haven't been destroyed; I've been fertilized.
Out of what many days seems like just a nasty, stinking mess, God is mysteriously and faithfully providing nutrients that will strengthen and beautify my life until it produces the most beautiful, abundant blossoms. Bring on the poop!