Spring and sunshine are rapidly approaching.
I’m trying to speak that out loud as often as I can in the hope that might actually get spring and sunshine to arrive faster. I’m ready for walking outside in hopefully less than 12 layers and 8 scarves. I’m ready to get my gardening gloves dirty in the front yard planting little white daisies. I’m ready to reclaim my favorite rocking chair on the porch for enjoying my morning coffee. I’m ready to pretend dandelions aren’t weeds so I can let them scatter everywhere without guilt when I run around with Bella in the backyard.
I always love the cold at first, because comfy sweaters, hot tea, and a blazing fireplace are also some of my favorite things. But the skies have been grey and cloudy for a long time, and I miss the buttery sunshine that makes it easier to smile about that early Monday morning alarm.
Yesterday however, happened to be the first day I received a sign that spring was almost here, but it did not come wrapped up in a pretty package that I liked.
I encountered a wasp in the garage. And rather than taking this as a reason to celebrate that the season I wanted was practically here, I grumbled with no small amount of annoyance that all the creepy crawlies and buzzing bothers were already coming back.
Can’t they just stay in whatever hibernation mode they were in before? Can’t I have spring without all the parts I dislike about it?
I had forgotten that the cold’s disappearance also involved the inevitable and imminent revival of the bug infestation on the planet I inhabit. Bugs (although plenty repulsive on their own) also bring pollen to the party, which by extension means cleaning absolutely everything 24/7.
Leave it to my natural human tendency to want the ideal version of everything, even when that goes against the way it’s meant to work. It seems to be a common theme really:
• I want to have a degree, but I don’t want the early mornings and projects involved to get it.
• I want to be a more patient person, but I don’t want to leave a little earlier in case I get stuck behind a tractor on the road (a very real possibility).
• I want to take a break from cooking, but I also want whoever does to make the exact meal I’m in the mood for at that moment.
• I want to be healthy, but I don’t want to use my lunch break to go to the gym, and I don’t want to give up fries and bread.
• I want to have the warm weather back, but I don’t want to take the time to wash the pollen off my car each day, and I don’t want to deal with the bugs.
I want the ideal, without it costing me effort. But I don’t even have the space (either in my schedule or in me) for what I’m asking for to show up.
The pastor at my church recently said, “When God is creating a new thing in your life, He first creates an environment that new thing can survive in.”
How often do we ask God for a new season and get terrified by or uncomfortable with a sudden change in the “weather”? How often do we ask Him for new resources, new ground to invest in, and new opportunities for growth and relationship, and then feel surprised and a little out of sorts when everything in our atmosphere starts changing? New people arrive on the scene. New requests of our time and resources are presented. New challenges arise that demand an increase in the quality of our character.
Essentially, this is asking God for a change in our circumstances and then grumbling when everything changes.
I wonder if this is because I will oftentimes ask God for things in the wrong order and end up with a gift I don’t know where to put. I walk up to Him with a thimble and ask Him to fill it will more patience. When really, I should be bringing Him a bucket and asking Him to fill that.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” – Matthew 9:16-17
New wine requires new wineskins.
God is a better gardener than I will ever be. He invented a key concept: In order for something to thrive, an environment that is compatible with it must be created and sustained first. New things from Heaven require fresh environments to live in on earth.
If all the space I have to offer is a moldy little thimble, then no matter how many times I ask for more patience, the results are still going to be tainted and bitter and not at all resembling patience when I give it away.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
He alone creates the environment for Heavenly things. I just need to give Him the space to do it, even (if not especially) when creating that space for Him takes a lot of effort.
I don’t know why I’m continuously surprised by the apparent “lack of space” in my life for God to grow good things, because it’s an obvious tactic of the enemy. He knows how powerful our time, energy, and space are when we hand any of the above over to God, so of course he’s going to make that seem impossible. So why are we surprised when our schedule suddenly looks like a tornado on wheels, and we’re tired for reasons like this, that, and the other and on TOP of that we get not-so-quiet whispers whenever we consider making God some space.
The lies go something like this:
• It’s going to take a mountain of effort.
• It’s going to be exhausting to even try to add one more thing.
• The results aren’t going to be worth it.
• My own efforts to make progress will work out better and faster.
It’s not even subtle! Effort to give God space in this day and age is a given because the enemy has repeated the “busy” strategy over and over ever since he figured out it works. We can not let that be the deterrent anymore. Plus, how much more are you telling God how valuable He is to you when you create the space for Him despite it all?
So I need to give Him space. I also need to be okay with the fact that He’s going to do some spring cleaning before anything healthy can grow. This is where the changes come in, and even positive change looks messy, ugly, and uncomfortable at first. This should be expected too. We have to resist that knee-jerk reaction that squashes change the second we see it coming or we will miss out on the new growth that we asked for. There are fewer wake up calls more effective than change, and change also happens to be one of the best Reset buttons on our habits and any ruts we’ve been stuck in.
It’s only when we are still letting Him work after all this that good things, Heavenly things, will start thriving. He can turn 15 minutes of space in the morning into the most beautiful place of rest and peace we have ever encountered. Blades of grass start growing out of what looked like solid concrete. And before long, the results we see and the vibrancy that we feel will make us want to give Him more and more space to fill.
Questions to consider:
• Are we handling the change in environment that our request requires well?
• Are we giving Him the space to create an environment where new things from Heaven can thrive?
• And, of course, are we okay with the idea of God exceeding all of our expectations?
In the middle of it all, I hope I’m reducing the amount of times that I grumble about the very thing I have Him asked for.
I want to be so familiar with this process that I recognize that when God puts new dreams in us, He’s actually been working on cultivating the faith, character, and healthy habits in us (long before we were aware of it) that are going to keep that dream alive.
Just another way of showing us He still knows what He’s doing, like He has from the start.
So as spring and sunshine are arriving soon, we welcome fresh, good, green, growing things. And we recognize they need new, healthy environments and a Gardener who knows what He’s doing.
Bring on the new dreams from Heaven.
We’re making space.