So as I begin this morning, I am thinking about rain (the potential of rain, the possibility of rain -- oh let there be rain this summer!) and thinking about change. The Monsoon season signals change for us in AZ. We leave behind the hot dry days, and embrace the hot humid days. We leave the cloudless skies for the gorgeous white monsoonal clouds (gigantic thunderheads that form over the deserts). We look to the skies for signs of verga (rain that falls but evaporates before it hits the ground), and we brace ourselves for the winds of mile high dust storms (Haboob - Arabic for an intense dust storm).
Yes, the winds of change are blowing and it is a perilous time of uncertainty. I am thanking the Lord today for the change of seasons, both literally (as in outside my door), and figuratively (within my life.) The Lord has ushered in change in my life, and I have withstood it's harsh onslaught. I have endured, and I have overcome. It is an encouraging thing to know that we can survive change, that we don't have to become defeated and devastated by it's affect on our life. Yes, often we suffer incredible hardship and sorrow, but we can overcome these experiences, and we can learn from them. We can grow, just like a plant grows tall and sturdy as the wind and rain pound against it's stem; we too, can grow strong in the Lord, steadfast and tall, able to stand against the wickedness of the world, the evil schemes of the devil, and the destruction of man's sinfulness (our own and others). We can become "hardened off," a term gardener's use to describe plants that have been given the time to grow in sheltered conditions so that they can handle being planted outdoors.
We are like those plants, and God is like the Gardener, who tenderly cares for fragile seedlings until they are ready, hardened off, to be planted in the ground. In doing so, God prepares us for the hardships of life out of doors, for the baking sun, the lack of water, the high winds that will come our way. As we mature in the garden of life, we learn to bend and not break. We set fruit and become productive, even when our surroundings (the soil) is not always fertile and primed for growth. We put down roots, long roots, so that we are not easily undone, uprooted, and we grow into a mature stable plant, one that can produce fruit over the course of time.
As I reflect on my "hardening off" period, I can see how I have grown strong. I am now far more able to withstand the pressures of this life, those difficult and unpredictable events that will come my way. I thank God today for this process, though it has not been easy nor has it been fun. It has proven itself out, and the work He began in me has been brought to completion. I have grown up in the Lord and in myself, and I am a mature plant now. Will there be more hardening off for me? No. Once you go through this process, the Great Master Gardener plants you in the soil of His choosing, and then He says to you: "Live well. Grow well. Produce much good fruit." Now that I am firmly planted in the soil of His Garden, I am to do what comes naturally to me -- to grow and to settle down and to bear much fruit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." ~Galatians 5:22