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Years ago, I planted tulips with my two-year-old who is now twenty. I’ve never had much success with bulbs. Whether the squirrels’ vigilance or my negligence, they never seem to return in proportion to my planting; some flourishing for a time then gone, some never blooming at all. But this past spring, I was surprised to see random splashes of colour sporadically brightening the earthremnants from those by-gone days.

It strikes me that just like these tulip bulbs, all that we painstakingly plant in our lives isn’t always seen right away. Sometimes the things we’ve sewn take years to bloom, buried in the dark recesses until just the right season. Sometimes they don’t bloom the way we expected, and other times we don’t see the results this side of heaven. But no effort is ever wasted, and even if we don’t see the results, God does.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  ~ Galatians 6:9

When beauty takes too long to flourish, we can be tempted to believe that our toil was wasted or that somehow we didn’t quite work hard enough, well enough, or smart enough. But even then, we don’t give in because we trust that even when all looks barren, God not only makes a way, but makes beauty as well.

The beauty might take longer than you thought. It might turn up unexpectedly and in a location you hadn’t imagined. But anywhere you nurture the soil, in time, beauty will flourish.

Whether a kind word deposited into a child’s heart, a hug given to a hurting soul, money given to help a cause, or time spent building into a life, or a communitynone are wasted. Every kindness, every determined effort, every weathered struggle, all the good that we didn’t give up on doing will bring an eventual harvest.

It’s always a blessing to see the fruits of our laboursome kind of beauty flourishing where it was plantedbut with God’s help, strength, and grace, even when there is no evidence of anything growing from the good we tried so hard to cultivate, we can also remember:

…we live by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Be encouraged! It’s not over ’till it’s over…and even then, it’s not really over! Heaven awaits!

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  1. Are you weary with trying? Bring your cares to God and ask Him for faith to continue doing good.
  2. Don’t forget, God’s word says you will one day see a harvest if you don’t give up!

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ~ Jesus

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A young mom recently asked me, “How can I do some deep work with God?”

What a beautiful question! I picture God smiling ear-to-ear over His kids who are seeking a climb-up-on-His-lap kind of intimacy.

I mentioned some ways to grow closer to God, such as setting time aside each day to read His word, prayer, and keeping a prayer journal, but thought it deserved a more thoughtful answer. Below are some of the specific ways that have helped me enrich my relationship with the Lord. I write them here as an encouragement to you.

  1. Read and study the Bible. Approach God’s word expectantly. What I mean by this is when you sit down to read the Bible, expect to hear from God. If a verse stands out to you, write it in a prayer journal or underline it in your Bible. Memorization also helps to hide His word in your heart for future use and timely encouragement.
  2. Pray.  Both the fall-on-your-knees and cry out to God kind, and the breath-by-breath throughout the day kind. Pray away from the crowds – just you and God, but also with other faithful, believers who expect God hears and answers in miraculous ways.
  3. Keep a prayer journal. I use my prayer journal to write prayers to God. In it I tell Him about what I’m struggling with, significant requests, and verses that stand out to me. It is amazing to look back and see God’s faithfulness documented and dated.
  4. Listen. Be still long enough to hear God’s hallowed in-between reply. The whisper in your spirit from His. The knowingness that God passed by and you didn’t miss the exhale of His Spirit releasing reassurance, peace, or a drop of deeper understanding. Let His voice be the loudest in your life.
  5. Praise.  Tell God how much you love Him. Be mindful of His many attributes. Speak, sing, dance, play, paint, or write your exclamations of praise – your worship to Him. Use your gifting for His glory. Your joyful offering pleases God and fortifies faith.
  6. Go to church. “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) Go to church to hear God’s word, to be encouraged, to meet with His saints and worship together. Meet regularly with other believers outside of the church walls too. Hear their victory stories, pray for them in their struggles, and love them.
  7. Choose/Practice forgiveness. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15) Jesus did it, so must we. It is a choice; a determined effort. It’s hard, they may not deserve it, but doing so frees us to live in the fullness of love and abundance Jesus died to give us.
  8. Be thankful. Don’t forget to thank God for ALL He has allowed in your life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of it is being used to form you into Christ-likeness. Nothing  is wasted. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:18) Even in the middle of the largest battle, we can choose thankfulness, and even in the midst of the most mundane moments we can be thankful.
  9. Choose joy. It can be found in the most heartbreaking, painful situations or can be chosen in the monotony of the day-to-day. Joy that isn’t based on circumstances but is rooted in faith that, no matter what, the God of the universe has “got” this and everything else. Choosing joy changes the atmosphere both within and without.
  10. Find a mentor/Be a mentor. Walk alongside a trusted someone who is a little further on in their journey than you. Learn from them, hear their stories, be encouraged by their triumphs and failures. Do the same for another newer or younger believer. We were not meant to walk alone.
  11. Serve and care for those in need. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27) Some sacrifice and inconvenience will be required, and you will be reminded that it’s not all about you, but your time and care will be priceless and of eternal value.
  12. Persevere. No matter the hardships, the fiery trials, the repeated mess-ups, the hurt, harm and misunderstandings, do not let anything or anyone come between you and God. Don’t let the truth of how precious and loved by God you are be stolen from you. You will, at times, be a partaker in Christ’s sufferings (see 1 Peter 4:12-14), but stay the course to end and great will be your reward (see Matthew 5:10-12).

I bless you as you do some deep work with God. 

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