When we moved into our home 26 years ago, the previous owners told us the neighborhood was built on rock. In fact, they said the builder had to use dynamite to dig the holes for our underground basements!
It didn’t take long for us to understand all too well the challenges of living on top of so much rock. Over the years, we have planted more bushes and trees that have died, than ones that have survived our rocky soil.
I’ve planted and lost two holly bushes, three dogwoods, two lilacs, a weeping cherry blossom and, sadly, many more. It’s been frustrating and expensive.
I’m grateful that, in spite of our ‘issue’, some have made it and there are a few pretty trees around our property. Some took years to fully bloom, and there’s also a pretty good-sized hydrangea that never produced a single blossom – I mean, it kind of defeats the purpose of having one – a bloom-less hydrangea is no hydrangea at all!.
So, two Spring seasons ago, when we brought a crepe myrtle home from the nursery, we didn’t know if it would survive or not.
Pat planted it on the side of our front yard and took care to dig the hole big enough. He added good soil and nutrients all around the planting. He staked it and watered it faithfully but, by the time the summer was over, the leaves fell off and the little trunk was dried out.
We’d lost another one.
We cut down the dead little tree and that was that. Pat was really disappointed because he deliberately planted the crepe myrtle in a certain spot where he thought it might do well. More on that later.
When Spring came around again, we noticed that something was growing up through the ground where the crepe myrtle had been. We thought it was probably a weed – and by the way – weeds have no trouble growing in rocky soil – we’ve raised some grand champions! But even so, we decided to leave it alone and see what would happen.
As the little plant grew, we realized it was not a weed at all – it was a crepe myrtle! It hadn’t died. Somehow, under the ground, the roots were still alive and growing!
And then we remembered why Pat planted the tree where he did.
When we go through a period of drought during the hot summers here in Maryland, our entire lawn turns brown and becomes as dry as straw – with the exception of one small area on the side of our house. No matter how dry and parched our grass becomes, there is always one strip where the grass remains lush and green.
This is because there is an underground spring that apparently has made its way through the cracks and fractures in the underground rock. I’ve heard it called an ‘aquafer’ or an ‘artesian spring’ but, no matter what it is called, there is a stream of water that runs under the ground and into the path where our crepe myrtle was planted. Pat placed it in that exact spot, hoping the underground spring would help it grow – and it did! The water sustained the roots and kept my little tree alive – even when everything above ground told us otherwise! This is how it looks today. It’s thriving!
This, of course, is a perfect metaphor for our own seasons of withered leaves and dry branches. They are the periods in our lives when everything appears to be over – dead and gone. Life as we knew it is done and we feel like we’ve been left in the middle of the desert. Have you been there? Me too. I might just be in a tough season now – so this metaphor is speaking to me loud and clear.
When losses come at us one after the other, on the surface, it seems as if our dreams, plans, and hopes are all withering away. But is that really true? Even if everything looks to be over – is it really?
The answer, for us who love and follow Jesus is no, it isn’t. Not if you belong to Him. He’s with us in the desolate places and He takes care of us. New life is being fed and watered. It’s a promise.
The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. – Isaiah 58:11
We all experience times of flourishing and times of dryness & drought. In the hard seasons, it can feel as if everything will stay brown and parched forever – but that is not true.
When we plant ourselves in the path of the underground spring, we find that underneath the rock on which we stand is a continual sustenance of living water that keeps us safe from fear – and with love, power & a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
This doesn’t mean that we have our fingers in our ears and are singing “La-la-la, I can’t hear you” and pretending that our dry spell doesn’t exist. Instead, we tap into the spring and His living water sustains us so that we aren’t in denial or paralyzed with fear.
With a sound mind, we can participate with the redirection He has allowed into our lives. We are able to remain teachable and can learn valuable lessons during the drought.
But…planting ourselves in the path of the underground spring is a choice. It always is.
Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst – not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4:14
I want that water and every blessing that comes with it – don’t you?
Many Blessings and love to all,