SURVIVING SEASONS OF DROUGHT: From Brown and Withering to Green and Flourishing
I want to use this week’s blog to tell you about something that may seem a little unusual. It seems lately I have been thinking in terms of analogies. I see or hear something, and I automatically catch myself creating a spiritual application in my head. Sometimes the applications make perfect sense, but at other times they are quite the stretch! I wish I knew if anyone else did this. If you do, please tell me in the comments. I would love to not be the only one! One of my most recent analogies has to do with ferns. Even if you aren’t a nature lover, please keep reading. I think this analogy will strike a chord with many educators.
This past summer in Texas has been brutally hot and dry. When we first moved here over seven years ago, it took a lot of trial and error before I could figure out what plants could withstand the heat. I had become spoiled in Missouri where everything I put in the ground seemed to thrive! Nature’s elements—rich soil, frequent rain, and reasonable temperatures—were abundant in Missouri, and they yielded lush plants. I didn’t have to work too hard at it, and I was determined to duplicate this experience in Texas.
To say it has been challenging is an understatement! Most of our flowerbeds are shaded (thank goodness), so ferns were an obvious choice. However, I learned this past summer that even these hearty plants cannot withstand 40 days of 100° temperatures and no rain! It was discouraging to watch them go from green and flourishing to brown and withering. I gave up trying to keep them alive.
A few days ago, I was out in the backyard and was shocked to see my brown, crunchy ferns green again. I made a beeline to the flowerbed to get a closer look. There was new growth! In fact, some of the ferns were about a foot tall already. Granted, we have had a couple of good rains, and when I say a couple, I literally mean only two! Although the temperatures have dropped slightly, I certainly didn’t expect a fresh new batch of ferns! I grew up in Southwest Kansas, and when a plant dies off there, it seldom emerges again until the following spring. However, to my surprise, my ferns had made a remarkable recovery. I love nature (if you couldn’t tell), and I believe nature is one way that God expresses His love toward us. For me, it’s one way He teaches and speaks.
I hope by now you are mulling over your own spiritual analogies. The more I pondered my experience with the ferns, the more parallels I created in my own mind. I wanted to dig a bit deeper, so I did a little searching in Scripture on the topic of rain. I came across this verse in Leviticus 26:4 which echoes Deuteronomy 11:14 and Ezekiel 34:26.
Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
As a believer, I want to live a fruitful life, and I know you do, too. One of my memory verses is Galatians 5:22-23 which I try to remind myself of often. We all want our lives to be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control! However, like my ferns, there are times when the extreme heat of our circumstances leaves us feeling withered and lifeless! We aren’t productive because there is nothing left in our spiritual tank. For educators, this often comes later in the year, but it is possible some of you may be feeling it right now! Whenever it does happen (and it will), we need to grab a hold of some important truths from Leviticus.
Only God can provide the rain (I will give you your rains) when the time is right (in their season) for the purpose of bearing fruit (the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit).
· Only God can provide the rain…
We can never forget that ultimately God is the source of our nourishment. He rains down on us wisdom, peace, and joy in times of plenty. He floods us with love, strength, and comfort in times of drought.
· when the time is right…
Whatever we need, He provides, but it is in His timing and not ours. Over the years I have learned to trust God’s timing. It isn’t wise to get ahead of Him or lag behind Him. The trick is learning to embrace the process and patiently wait for the rain because it will come (1 Peter 5:6)!
· for the purpose of bearing fruit.
Sometimes God uses seasons of drought to strengthen us for seasons of fruitfulness. We won’t always understand the process, but by God’s grace, we will bear fruit once again (Colossians 1:10)!
There is one more important fact about my ferns that needs to be mentioned. They are planted in fertile soil. I believe this is what facilitated the regrowth. We can’t control the rain or the hot temperatures, but we can control where we plant ourselves. How fertile is your soil?
It doesn’t matter if we are in a fruit-bearing season or a drought, we have to pay attention to our soil! The soil is where we cultivate growth. My ferns cannot survive without nutrients that are added to the soil. Likewise, our faith has to be supplemented in order to grow and endure. The Bible says we have everything we need to live a Godly life, but we have to add a few nutrients if we want to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.
Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (Emphasis mine)
God’s Word is full of promises. These promises are like rain; they nourish us in the good times and sustain us during difficult times. It doesn’t matter what season we are in. We must constantly cultivate our soil! We can’t wait until the temperature climbs and the rain is scarce to supplement our faith. When our soil is full of nutrients like endurance, godliness, and love for others, the “burned up and burned out” seasons will not be times of despair but times of growth.
When I looked at my ferns in early August, I thought they were dead and gone. Little did I know they were still growing. I just couldn’t see it. When times like these happen in our own lives, remember these truths.
Only God can give the rain (I will give you your rains) when the time is right (in their season) for the purpose of bearing fruit (the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit).
Final Note! Take a close look at this picture of my ferns. Do you notice some of the brown parts? These are remnants of the drought and a good reminder of God’s faithfulness. We will be green again! Sorry – one more analogy!