For those of us living in North America, spring is almost here (or so my calendar and clock tell me). This weekend is the notorious leap forward in time in an effort to save daylight for the hours we are awake. If you are like me and study in the morning, this may be one time in the year that it is extra difficult to get out of bed—because it is one whole hour earlier than our bodies are use to. One way to help your body to relax and adjust better is to take a hot bath on Saturday and Sunday evenings before going to bed. This has helped me adjust to the time shift smoother in the recent years.
Spring also brings another blessing, and that is the trees start to sprout and show life again. While it may not seem like it for many who recently got hit with snow, the tide and temperature is beginning to turn and plants (like the grass in my lawn) that appear to be completely dead will begin to show new life.
This makes me think about some ways that my spiritual life is like a plant. First off, like plants live on a yearly cycle (spring-winter), so do our spiritual lives. Our spiritual life is linked to many things, like our age/maturity, our location, our self-awareness, our position or stage in life, among other things. Every one of us goes through stages of growth and rest, then more growth, and rest, and like we talked about a few weeks ago, both stretching and relaxing are necessary for optimal performance.
There are two other ways plants model our spiritual growth that I want to focus on in this newsletter.
The first is that while they appear dead or dormant, they still have the spark of life inside that will respond to more sunlight and warmer weather. This reminds me of the text:
1 Samuel 16:7.
The context for this verse is that God sends Samuel to find David to anoint him as the next king of Israel, but the only instructions Samuel was given up to this point was to go to David’s family. Samuel is sitting with all of David’s brothers and speculating at who God will choose. God tells Samuel in the last part of this verse that men look at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart. When I look at my yard and see all the dead/dormant grass and begin to believe that it’s dead, God is able to look at it and see that the spark of life still exists.
The second way plants model spiritual growth is that we have absolutely no direct control over the growth. We only have control over the conditions. With plants we can moderate the temperature, the sunlight, the water/rain, the soil, all to an extent, but these elements only are conditions/variables that allow for growth—they don’t directly cause the plant to sprout and grow.
It is the same with our spiritual lives. We can only primarily influence the conditions around our growth. Do we take regular periods of time to rest and reflect? Do we spend regular and relaxed time looking at God’s Word (the Bible)? Do we balance the stresses of our work with the joy of spending time with our families? Do we look to God as the source of all that we have been blessed with? All these and more are ways that we can help influence the conditions around our spiritual growth.
However, there is one key difference between our spiritual growth and plant growth, and that is choice. When God sends us an opportunity to step out of our comfort zones in order to grow more, it is our choice to step up to the challenge. When a trial comes our way, it is our choice whether to look past the trial towards God, or to remain fixed on the bad like a deer paralyzed by a pair of headlights.
As we move into a new season in the biological year, let’s remember and focus on ways we can cultivate the best possible conditions for growth in our own spiritual walk.
P.S. Did I miss something, or would you like to respond on this topic? Join the conversation below!