dweller by the river

sojourner of earth attempting to understand the journey home

Tag: Life Speaker

Picking a Side

Where does one draw the line between practical wisdom and faith-fuelled conviction? Between foolhardy optimism and promise-fuelled faith? Between confidence (in a God who will not let me fall, so long as I seek to follow Him) and pride (not wanting to back down from what I’ve said)?

I’ve always been a rational sort of person, and I’ve always prided myself on my ability to use logic and reasoning in my decision-making. It’s probably one of the biggest reasons I took so long to make my final decision to leave this company.

Yeah, I resigned, I’m serving notice, and my last day of service is just six weekdays from now.

This exit has been pending for a long time. Months. And I’d been vacillating on it and then its date for most of that time. I’d been applying for other positions from time to time, thinking on and off about what I’d do if I decided to be my own boss, and basically just waiting for a sign of some sort from God. Occasionally asking Him to please make the path ahead clear.

Nothing happened. The few callbacks and interviews that I had been getting dwindled to nothing. No new leads showed up. I got more depressed, more irritable, more frustrated.  The rubbish coming from the crazy clients got worse. And more (unlooked-for) information on certain persons in management turned up, making me lose whatever hope/trust/respect I had left for this company. And I still couldn’t seem to hear anything from God.

Then I quit. And suddenly ideas I had been toying with gained clarity. And I had offers of projects from a few different sources, such that if everything works out smoothly, I’ll be occupied all the way through July. A friend who’s been in the freelance scene for four years offered to guide me and connect me. An ex boss extended me an open door to part-time employment. And best of all, I felt free. And excited about forging a new path. And eager to finally have the time to do some things that I’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time. And I am finding that old sensitivity to the Spirit’s prompting and prophetic insight that I used to have returning, bit by bit.

Funny how I should already know this, but couldn’t seem to see it. We need to do our part and then trust the outcome and the direction going forward to the Lord. Sitting on the fence isn’t going to cut it. Blaming inertia and procrastinating on an inevitable decision is just asking for trouble. God doesn’t want His people being passive – we are meant to act.

Funny how this is the church’s focus during this period, too:

James 1: 2-18, NKJV
2My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9Let the lowly brother rejoice in his exaltation, 10but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
12Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.
16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Meanwhile, this old favourite passage has come back to me too:

Isaiah 30: 1-5, 15-26, NKJV
1”Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! 3Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation. 4For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes. 5They were all ashamed of a people who could not benefit them, or be help or benefit, but a shame and also a reproach.”
                  15For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not.
                  16And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses” — therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses” — therefore those who pursue you shall be swift! 17One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain and as a banner on a hill.
                  18Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.
                  19For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. 20And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. 21Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. 22You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, and the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; you will say to them, “Get away!”
23Then He will give the rain for your seed with which you sow the ground, and bread of the increase of the earth; it will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed in large pastures. 24Likewise the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground will eat cured fodder, which has been winnowed with the shovel and fan.
25There will be on every high mountain and on every high hill rivers and streams of waters, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound.

Today I had lunch with a colleague. I know he means well, but he is what he is — a man who stands on his own strength, who does not put his trust in any god, and who is a pragmatist. And the more he spoke the more I felt the same doubt and fear and anxiety and depression of the last many months creeping back in.

So I shut the door. Being surrounded by such is a trial. Being sucked down into the morass of negative emotions and self-reliance is giving in to temptation. But —

I will not be moved
And I’ll say of the Lord
You are my shield, my strength
My portion, deliverer
My shelter, strong tower
My very present help in time of need

Truly, I am convicted that this move is of the Lord. I believe that He has made this clear. It is now up to me to walk in discipline, and not waste the opportunities that my Father has laid in my path. I know that “The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish (Proverbs 10:3).”

It is well with my soul!

*****

2 Thessalonians 3:7-13, NKJV
7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labour and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

                  10For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
                  13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.

Colossians 3:23-24, NKJV
23And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Psalm 128:1-4, NKJV
1Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. 2When you eat the labour of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. 3Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. 4Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.

Proverbs 14:23, NKJV
In all labour there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 12:11, NKJV
He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.

Proverbs 10:4, NKJV
He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 20:13, NKJV
Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.

Proverbs 28:19-20, NKJV
19He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough! 20A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 24:30-34, NKJV
30I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; 31and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. 32When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: 33A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; 34so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.

Proverbs 22:29, NKJV
Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.

Ecclesiastes 9:4-12, NKJV
4…for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished, nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.

                  7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. 8Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. 9Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labour which you perform under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
                  11I returned and saw under the sun that — the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. 12For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

The Line Between Faith and Lack of Concern

Okay. Some might think it weird, but over the past few weeks, much of which I have spent lying flat on my back contemplating my ceiling in absolute boredom (I was put on bed rest by my current ob-gyn for spotting), one of my main worries has been my plants.

Yes, my plants.

How are they doing? Are they getting enough water (my mother and sister are not very reliable assistants in this area)? Are they getting infested with pests – read: spider mites – as a result of not getting enough water? Are they happy? Have any of them started spiking/blooming/pupping?

I’m well aware that tillandsias are among the toughest plants in existence, and that they are also particularly successful and drought-resistant in the wild. I also know that we’ve had some really heavy thunderstorms recently, whose strong winds ensured that my tillies got plenty of beneficial rainwater. But these are my babies!

E has been doing a pretty good job since I decided that we didn’t need extra help (mother/sister), and he’s done a round of up-close inspections to check for pests. He’s also offered to bring them over to me in small batches so that I can take a look myself, but so far I’ve unfortunately been feeling too tired or irritable or nausea-affected to take him up on it. I’ve observed him watering them a couple of times and felt significantly less anxious about their well-being, but it’s not the same as leaning out that window and personally ensuring that every single one of them is in top condition.

It’s not entirely clear to me whether my preoccupation with my plants is entirely down to my passionate love for them or if it’s influenced by a subconscious need to deflect my anxieties concerning my not-so-easy-so-far pregnancy (and I’m only seven weeks along!). Maybe I’m in denial. …Actually, since I’m actually writing a whole post on the topic, it’s clearly the latter.

We all navigate faith in slightly different ways, I guess. Sure, we all know at least one church-instilled description (e.g. “faith is trusting in the inherent goodness of God instead of your feelings”), and some of us can parrot scriptural definitions (e.g. “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – Hebrews 11:1, AKJV). But how does faith work out in real life, when you’re not dealing with things that could conceivably or arguably be psychosomatic or hallucinatory (e.g. feeling the Spirit’s presence, speaking in tongues, seeing visions, getting “slain”), but with a medical professional’s unsmiling face and discouraging words, packets of drugs, and bloodstains?

Even financial troubles and financial blessings aren’t as difficult to deal with where faith is concerned. After all, it’s not really a miracle per se for family members and close friends who know of your plight to feel moved to give you some cash – the aggregate could very well be more than enough to solve the problem, and then ta-dah! God has favoured and blessed me with provision!

Like I always say, though, there’s no point arguing about faith healing with someone who’s actually already been healed, because there’s really no point to the argument. He’s already healed, and he knows it, and the medical evidence of it is there (unexplained, duh), and how are you going to refute that? And I know what I’ve experienced before: situations where my faith was not disappointed, and where coincidences had clearly crossed the line into the realm of the uncanny. I know that my God is faithful, and I know that His love is real and present, and I know that He provides – abundantly and to overflowing. I just haven’t been tested (or haven’t tested Him?) in this area yet.

I look at my plants and I see that they’ve indeed gone on to spike, bloom and pup. I look at the plants around me, in my estate, in my office building, on the streets, and I see that they all continue to flourish, growing flowers, fruits and seeds in their season. I see the birds and the stray cats and dogs and the pesky rats and moles multiplying freely. I know that women in lower income brackets as well as in poorer and less developed places overseas, without access to the level of medical care I have, are successfully bearing children. I know that in many places, even though they struggle with overfishing, excessive hunting, poaching, habitat destruction and pollution, millions of creatures and plants are still carrying on their life cycles more or less effectively.

In most cases, given the right environment and nutrition, reproduction occurs naturally and effortlessly – and the wrongness and problems are more often than not the result of humanity’s self-serving actions.

Everywhere, at every moment, the first divine commands and blessings ever given on earth are still being obeyed and still manifesting, often with predictable and taken-for-granted results:

Genesis 1: 11–12 (AKJV)
And God said: “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth”: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1: 21–22 (AKJV)
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

Genesis 1:24–25 (AKJV)
And God said: “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind”: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1: 27–28 (AJKV)
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Note also that after the Flood, when Noah and his family were getting ready to set out and rebuild human civilisation from scratch, God reiterated His initial blessings and commands:

Genesis 9:1, 7 (AKJV)
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

I wake up in the morning and believe that gravity is still in operation, that my lungs still require oxygen and that Earth’s atmosphere still contains liveable amounts of this gas. I get on the train and the bus and trust that thermodynamics work the same way today that they did yesterday. I eat and drink, believing that these substances I ingest are indeed what they appear to be and contain the nutrients they are supposed to contain, and that my body functions using these as fuel. I go to sleep at night trusting that my heart and lungs and everything else will continue to function without my conscious assistance or supervision, and I trust that I will wake up the next day.

That’s basically how the plants and animals live, isn’t it? We were made to function this way in a world that was fashioned and designed to work by the various laws and theories that we are still discovering and refining our understanding of. Are we not all living by faith, in different things and at different levels and to different extents, at all times?

I have been given a command to go forth and be fruitful. And what He has called me to do, He also equips me to carry out (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:21). Children are a gift and a blessing (Leviticus 26:9, Psalm 115:14, Psalm 127:3, Psalm 128:2–4). For us who stand on grace ground, having been made the righteousness of God in Christ, the Old Testament promises that none shall miscarry or be barren in the land are “yes and amen” in Him (Genesis 28:3, Genesis 49:25, Exodus 23:25–26, Leviticus 26:9, Deuteronomy 7:12–15, Deuteronomy 28:11, Deuteronomy 30:9; Romans 3:21–24, Romans 5:17, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:20).

And so I am not spending an indefinite period of time lying in bed, although the medical expert I’m currently seeing keeps insisting that that is all I am good for right now (with threats that not complying will result in disaster). I’m still working, though I’m monitoring my symptoms and being careful and conservative in my movements. I’m not yet able to wear a smile all the time (feeling ill and waging a constant mental battle will do that to you), but I’m not going to panic and scramble to obey the edicts of science – I’m going to follow my instincts and I’m going to walk by faith.

And I’m going to have this child.

The Need to Let Go

I was watering the plants earlier today and the thought struck me that somewhere in the next several months, I might not be able to continue watering them in the same way. In fact, I might need to move them, or even have them fostered, for a while. Maybe not all of them, but a large number will probably have to go. Not permanently, of course, but for long enough that I do wonder if my attachment to them will survive the separation fully intact.

Why, you may wonder, when I am usually so particular about their needs and haven’t had very good experiences with leaving them to another person’s care. What could possibly be the reason behind this notion that letting go of them, or more accurately my sole responsibility for their care for a significant amount of time, is necessary?

Two days ago, I found out that I am pregnant.

Okay, I’ll be more accurate: Two days ago, I found out for sure (with test results to prove it) that I am pregnant. I’d known for a week, really — what with the sore boobs, dizzy spells, bouts of nausea, odd cravings and a general feeling of weirdness, and oh, the fact that my period was late. Also, the timing fit with multiple strands of logic, Bible numerics and real-life timelines, and several prophetic dreams and visions by myself and a few others.

I haven’t had time yet to really sit down and read up on this and shortlist my options (like which gynaecologists are likely bets), so of course I haven’t seen a gynae yet, and so we don’t know for sure how long I am along. The GP we saw on Friday says her best bet is about five to six weeks, and some of the people we’ve told in the past two days have commented that it’s odd for anyone to reveal such news so early. They advised me to keep it quiet until I know for sure that I’m more than three months along.

Apparently it is not normal to announce one’s pregnancy until the supposedly danger-fraught first trimester is over, partly because of the higher likelihood of miscarriage during this period, and also partly due to superstition — if you talk about a good thing before it’s “cemented”, you might anger “the spirits” and they might decide to give you bad luck (ie a miscarriage). Or whatever other reasons there are behind those deep-seated old fears that haunt so many people.

I would be lying if I said that I am absolutely untouched and unaffected by these vicarious worries. I’m human, after all — but I also know that there is no point holding on to what you have no control over. Sure, I can do my part and be careful not to ingest alcohol, caffeine and whatever else isn’t good for a developing foetus, avoid contact with cigarette smoke and possible toxic substances, be really careful with which (and the amounts and concentrations of) essential oils I use, make sure I don’t make any sudden or jerky movements, and take care how I walk so that I don’t bump into things or fall down… but it is a fact that nothing I can do is going to guarantee that this tiny little beginning of a new human being is going to make it to full term. Only God can do that. So I need to, and will, let go and let Him do what He does best — be God.

Another thing I believe is that the God I trust in is a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, one whose word and gifts are permanent. Where He leads me (if it is clear to me, and I’m kinda stupid sometimes) I will follow; what He calls me to do, He will equip me to complete. He who begins a good work in me will be faithful to complete it in me, for His own name’s sake. He did not arrange things such that everything has fallen into place just to have things turn out to be some kind of cosmic joke. We certainly didn’t plan any of it on our own, it just happened. (A quick mention of some it: Agreement to be open to receive parenthood in the fifth — number of grace — year of our marriage; conception in the sixth — number of man/humanity — year leading to birth in the seventh — number of perfection/completion — year; conception occurring in E’s thirty-fifth — seven x five — year of life.)

The concept of “let go and let God” is not new to me. It is something that you learn very early in your Christian walk, no matter what denomination you come from, whether or not your principle reason is trust in your loving Father’s faithful and perfect care or a belief that “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord”. For E and me, it is clear that even though we don’t always feel it to be real, our God is a Saviour, Healer and Provider extraordinaire. And He cares.

E and I have had some experience seeing it play out in real life, as getting married and getting and paying for our home was a real test of faith in God’s ability and willingness to provide for us financially. The end result was that we had enough money for every stage we went through, with enough left over to start our new life together relatively carefree. Clawing our way out of ministry-related disaster-caused doldrums from 2008 to 2013 was a long hard trek during which I questioned my faith several times, but the Lord had always provided handholds and reminders that kept me from leaving the path completely. We’re not completely fine yet, to be sure, but we’re still standing. And that, in a world where relationships burn out and die at the drop of a hat, really makes all the difference.

Does that make us ready to be parents? No. We’ve discussed it on and off and have some ideas, and we are much more mentally and emotionally prepared for it now since I passed thirty and E decided that it was time to get off birth control completely, but we don’t believe it is possible or even favourable to be absolutely prepared. Where does faith come in if you’re already so prepared that nothing can faze you? And where will iron self-sufficiency leave you if you’re wrong or your preparations turn out to be insufficient? What else is there to do but let go and let God?

So I am leaving this pregnancy in my Father’s hands, and will trust Him to bring to fruition the seed He has begun forming within me. And so I will also leave my plants in His hands and the hands of friends and family, when the time comes for that.

IMG_0049 small

Mind Shifts – Not Just For the Christian Walk, Surely

Metanoia is the Greek word for conversion: a ‘fundamental transformation of mind’. It is the process by which concepts are reorganised. Metanoia is a specialised, intensified adult form of the same worldview development found shaping the mind of the infant. Formerly associated with religion, metanoia proves to be the way by which all genuine education takes place. Michael Polanyi points out that a ‘conversion’ shapes the mind of the student into the physicist. Metanoia is a seizure by the discipline given total attention, and a restructuring of the attending mind. This reshaping of the mind is the principal key to the reality function.

The same procedure found in worldview development of the child, the metanoia of the advanced student, or the conversion to a religion, can be traced as well in the question-and-answer process, or the proposing and eventual filling of an ’empty category’ in science. The asking of an ultimately serious question, which means to be seized in turn by an ultimately serious quest, reshapes our concepts in favour of the kinds of perceptions needed to ‘see’ the desired answer. To be given ears to hear and eyes to see is to have one’s concepts changed in favour of the discipline. A question determines and brings about its answer just as the desired end shapes the nature of the kind of question asked. This is the way by which science synthetically creates that which it then ‘discovers’ out there in nature.

Exploring this reality function shows how and why we reap what we sow, individually and collectively – but no simply one-to-one correspondence is implied. The success or failure of any idea is subject to an enormous web of contingencies. Any idea seriously entertained, however, tends to bring about the realisation of itself, and will, regardless of the nature of the idea, to the extent it can be free of ambiguities.”

– Joseph Chiltern Pearce, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: New Constructs of Mind and Reality (Rochester, Vermont, USA: Park Street Press, 2002), p. 24-25

 

I am absolutely sure that this man is one of the foremost academic authorities alive on how the spiritual realm actually works, and because I have always naturally taken to academics, this helps me in my spiritual walk much more than reading five or even ten theological books or books written to Christians by Christian leaders.

And yes, to pull this back to plant-relevance, I’m going to think about and talk to my plants differently from now on.

Re-entering the Field

So S has been sorta pulled into the mad world of bromeliad mania, and somehow she and I have agreed to work together on a research project (probably a slim volume consisting of a few articles) on the garden and the city. She’ll be jumping into it immediately after finishing her Masters thesis, and I’m attempting to get my academic gears back into motion after eight years of disuse.

I’ve not felt so excited about a project for a long time, not even when I was actively writing for and editing a now-defunct e-zine (we closed it down because the organisation it was for had shifted in direction and focus). Sure, there’s been some high points with other things like songwriting, vocal recording, and dance… but while I do have a bit of talent in those areas it’s probably nothing close to what I can do with the written word when I’m at the top of my game.

The childhood dream is no longer what it was, however. I don’t have the same misguided ideas about the sort of writing I am good at, or where my true giftings lie.

When I was a child, all I knew was that I wanted to write. And I wrote – badly.

It wasn’t that I had no skill with language or self-expression. It was bad because I was attempting to write fiction, just because I loved reading fiction. It started because someone mentioned that one should write the sort of books that one wanted to read. And it continued being bad because I lapped up advice from various sources that urged aspiring writers to just keep trying, to imitate your idols, to employ all sorts of writing stimuli and idea-spawning tools, to just ensure that you wrote something on a regular basis no matter how disjointed or bad it was.

I went through a few other phases in which I unconsciously explored and practised various genres, types of writing, and developed a personal voice and style. For the past handful of years, however, you might say I’ve produced nothing.

The recent years of non-inspiration and half-baked writing attempts haven’t been useless, however, though the world might see it that way. I’ve noticed another pattern in my life that my eyes hadn’t been open to until today, and I’m amazed at how the Lord has directed my steps even though I have been completely oblivious. The discouragement I felt at not having written anything for a long time, and the resulting “killing” of my dream in surrender (or resignation?) was real, but the time of renewal is here. I know it. I can feel it.

Since this is mainly a plant-related blog – yes, I do intend for it to keep that focus somehow – I’ll make it a bit plainer: “Unproductive” stretches in our lives, if not caused by laziness or inertia, are very likely fallow periods. Afterwards, with proper ploughing (keep studying the Word and praying!), sunshine and rain, seedtime and harvest come back into play. When we allow our lives and our gifts to “flow with the unforced rhythms of grace”, to quote a certain JP, God’s pattern and plan for our lives becomes clearer.

So thank you, S, for being a catalyst. God’s used you to bless me much more than you might realise – your simple invitation to tea/coffee might just prove to be one of the most important turning points in my writing career. I hope whatever I deposit into your spirit is as valuable as what you’ve set fire to in mine.

Exodus 23: 10-12 (NKJV)
10“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. 12Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.

Proverbs 13:23 (NKJV)
Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste.

John 12:24 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

Jeremiah 4:3 (NKJV)
For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, “Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns.”

Hosea 10:12 (NKJV)
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.