Understanding the Gardener

If I were to draw out a scene representing me and my current season of life, it would look like a young tree, growing. This tree would reach its branches out to bear weight from an outside source, except the gardener would intercept it and hold the tree’s branches back. Instead of the tree going to work, despite its determined attempts, it would be worked on– watered and pruned and grafted. There would be signs of blossoming and fruit, but mostly a flurry of nurture and growth under tender care..

Let me explain…

I’m taking an intermission from school right now, for financial reasons (still actively enrolled, just not taking classes and am living at home again), and I recently took a quick trip to visit school for a day and a half. In the couple of days right before I left, the trip felt like a really bad decision monetarily, but was set on getting away from the house for a few days. However, the thing that had me more worried was what I was going to say to everyone who was definitely going to ask two questions: “How is it being home again?” and “How is work/your intermission going?” It hasn’t gone the way I thought and its alternative path has thus far been rather discouraging. I felt I had massively let not only myself down but everyone else here and there as well. After all, I had spent most of the fall semester praying fervently for God’s direction and understood it to be the path of intermission, however much sacrifice and sadness that meant. And now I appeared to be far enough into it for others to expect fruit from my labors, only I have done disappointingly little labor with, expectedly, no fruit so far.

Many people have said they don’t understand the ways of God. Sometimes this is because of the vast unknown they are facing, and said as though they desire to know. Sometimes this is because of the joy and blessing they have been given, and said ironically as they have no desire to know. This month alone, I have made this statement in both contexts. In both instances, I find myself humbled in realizing how small I am compared to the Lord.

As I’ve spent this week reflecting on and savoring my little trip west, I have again noticed how much my understanding pales before God because of the gifts He gives when I least deserve them. On an extremely honest note, since the new year has begun, I have been sluggish to accomplish little things, reluctant to steadily seek work, and have knocked several good ideas for personal care and growth out the window. I’m ashamed of myself, discouraged, and seem(ed) to be with very little motivation. Therefore, I was hesitant to see so many friends and give them an honest answer. But, being committed to being me no matter what, I repeated my honest story more times than I cared to, after preparing to apologize or make excuses for myself.

I was met with no situation in which those were needed; rather, I was met with so much grace and love, it amazes me. The Gracious Gardener had prepared nothing but kind faces, encouraging words (and jokes), compassion, and love for me as I am in the state I am. Two friends I don’t know near well enough stepped out of their paths to say hi. Friends yelled with happiness when I showed up out of the blue. Several friends securely hold the belief that I’ll return to school. A friend took time to boldly looked honesty in the face with me. A servant-hearted friend said he’d help me financially if he could. Two friends let me take up their precious floor space for a day and a half. A friend stopped to chat and admit that it made her happy just seeing my face again. A friend went to bed later just so we could talk longer. …This is only to name ]of the moments that stick out the most, either as sacrifices they chose to make or as gifts I don’t deserve.

I thought by enrolling at this school and moving in to college full-time, I was getting closer to a career field and taking a chance to give more to others than I had been previously. Yet I look back and notice the difference between the amount I have given to or helped others, and the amount I have been given to by others or grown personally. I’m tempted to say that seeing that is self-conceited and selfish, or that the right hand really does not have a clue what the left is doing. The alternative view I see at this moment, however, is that of the work of the Healer, the Gardener. While He may very well be using me for others and preparing me for a career, He is also teaching me much about holding a valuable place in the world and lives of many others, and weaving this into the fact that purpose and joy are mine to hold on to. He is opening and growing me into the whole, reflective-of-Him person He created me as in His image. He has proved faithful to never let the earth around me become too dry before sending nourishing rain, and provide me with those who will urge me after Him once more, to prune my branches back into His shape.

Even though I have yet to understand the ways of God as much as I sometimes want to, I continue to marvel at His mysterious ways that fill me up fuller than I ever could on my own endeavors. I am humbled, to be given such grace from those who see the potential I have not fulfilled, to be so loved and remembered despite my absence and wandering. I can’t help but be filled with joy at seeing Him reflected through those around me and connecting deeper with the affections He has for me. The time for truly blooming and bearing weight will come; right now is the time for pruning and growing. Some understanding will come in time; some understanding is not meant to be mine.

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