In a conversation over a cup of tea one day, a friend and I talked about why we love baking so much. This was probably between mentioning the frustrations we’d encountered during the week and before we started to talk about our plans for the weekend. We concluded that the reward of baking is that it gives a result, where at that time in our lives results weren’t always what we got.
Mix a few ingredients the right way, bake, and there it is. Whatever the day has thrown at us – a frustrating day at work, sorting out the kids, rushing around, cleaning, picking up clothes and towels off the bathroom floor for the millionth time – a few minutes of mixing and something is created. It’s evidence of a little achievement in the day. The kids may not have done their homework, the cleaning that has been done is all undone again, but there are cookies and cake!
Even more satisfying is a batch of fresh made bread. Less instant, but oh so good.
I like the almost instant result. I like to say, ‘Ta-dah! Look what I’ve made. Look at this!’ Our culture likes results too. The positive statistics. The proof. A job done. The measure of where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
This time of year I’m planting my vegetable garden. Another passion of mine. I start off planning what I’m going to grow and then get a bit carried away and plant a bit more. I’m like a child looking out of the window every morning to see if any of the seeds have sprouted or plants have shot up.
Gardening takes longer than baking. It requires more preparation, and I have a lot less control over the outcome. I can prepare the right conditions. I can make sure the seeds get watered. I can plant flowers that attract the right insects and confuse the wrong ones. I can try to stop the birds pecking them out of the ground, put a fence around the garden so nothing gets in to munch the young plants, but there’s always a chance disaster will strike. I can feed and fertilize the ground around the plants. I can weed so that the vegetable plants aren’t competing with them for nutrients.
I can’t make a seed grow. I can’t fix the weather. A lot depends on whether we get a good summer or not, not too wet, not too dry, and whether the pests can be kept at bay. Though I learn a lot each year, I don’t know how each season is going to go.
It delights me when I see the shoots sprouting up through the ground. There’s relief when they get beyond being a mere shoot and grow more leaves. When those plants grow and are ready to harvest or bear fruit it makes the hard work so worth while.
While I’ve been doing these gardening things I’ve considered some God-given dreams and ideas that are like seeds in my heart. I’m a little frustrated as they’re not plants yet. I don’t see how they are going to grow. I’m getting on with things, but I don’t know what comes next. When is the breakthrough going to be? Is there going to be any? Maybe I’m so wrong.
There are things that I’m praying for that there are no answers for yet. I cling to God’s promises for those things.
There are some answers to prayers for others. Many others! Over the last few days a situation for my sister-in-law was completely turned around against all the odds. This is very encouraging!
I have to trust that the One who plants the seed will grow it. He works perseverance and character into the whole process. He’s not in a hurry. He is patient with us.
It comes back to Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed again. The kingdom grows ‘at the speed of a seed’, I heard in a talk a few weeks ago. It’s not an instant result. Sometimes the things he calls us to take a long time to come to fruition, but when they do it’s for the benefit of a great many more than just ourselves. It is not a pursuit of personal fulfillment. True fulfillment happens when we seek His kingdom first.
Yes, here it is, it’s not about me! Instead of clinging on to those dreams and ideas, even if they are planted by God, I need to cling to Him – after all He is the greatest gardener (John 15:1).
‘And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 1:6