While the majority of the country is still under ice and snow, southern California remains generally mild even with today’s rains. The forecast of rain earlier this week gave me a great motivation to get the large (5 cubic yards!) pile of mulch delivered last week out of my driveway and into the planter beds. Over the last week, I’ve taken a stab at it, a bucket here and a bucket there. Nearly half of the planters are done, newly mulched and ready for the rains to help the nutrients the mulch contains get into the soil.
Little did I know that mulch is high in allergens. With allergy season starting here this week as well as a high dose of mulch-in-the-nose, I’ve been sneezing left and right. It’s been a great potential excuse to just let the pile sit. Still, my plants need mulching and I’m sure our neighbors are ready for the mulch to be out of our driveway and that like-it-or-hate-it stench out of the air. What’s kept me going through it all is the vision of our recently pruned roses, blooming all the more brilliantly because of a new layer of mulch. Or our tulip and iris bulbs being fed and happy in their warm earthen homes. Or our butterfly bush that needs to get ready to nurture still-to-be-hatched monarch butterflies somewhere on this continent.
My mulch situation has reminded me a bit of the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome. He talked with them about the peace one can have with God through Jesus. Paul encouraged the church in Rome, which was under much persecution at the time (think Nero here), to endure and even be joyful in our sufferings because they bring something greater—hope. Paul writes: “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts” (Romans 5:2-5).
Paul encouraged the church in Rome to hang on a little while longer. He encouraged them to persevere. Why? Because He had had such a taste of the love that God has for each one of us that he wanted that for each of those he came in contact with. Paul had a vision to see all he met live in the life abundant and to enjoy the Surface. While definitely different in gravity, I liken this a bit to my own vision for something greater for my stick-looking roses—a picture of sweet-smelling flowers to grace the kitchen table throughout the year, to cheer a sick loved one, or bring a smile to a walking-by neighbor. This yet-to-be vision makes the current trial of post-nasal drip and sneezing worthwhile. These trials are simply part of the process of having a nice garden.
Take a moment and think in your own life of the things around you that are aggravating. Is God calling you to persevere in that trial so that something greater can happen? How are you motivated (or not motivated) to dig in deeper to this process so that you can be where He wants you to be? Continue to move further in and remember that life on the Surface is enjoyable.