Perennials vs Annuals…gardening terms, but perhaps relate to people as well. First let’s set the record straight. Typically, annual plants last one growing season and perennials come back year after year. As I write, it is time to divide perennials that have grown too large, time to plant bulbs, and time to plants trees and shrubs. Recently, I planted handfuls of spring bulbs, grape hyacinths to be exact. With the promise of cheery clusters of purple faces that will awake when the snow melts, I tirelessly placed the little bulbs in their prescribed depths of soil. Next, I covered them with a think blanket of earth ensuring their protection from squirrels and dropping temperatures. When at last, the final little bulb had been tucked in for his long winters rest, I stood up and stretched out my dirt covered knees. I stood back to look at my work and I noticed something. I couldn’t see one darn thing! All this work, and nothing to show for it.
Oh but the promise. As a gardener, I have learned that planting bulbs in the fall ensures months of beautiful flowers in the spring and summer. But it is so hard to wait! We live in a world of instant results, and we often want instant fruits of our labor. We live in an annual world, rarely pointing to patience. It is hard to have a perennial heart in an annual world. Our annual world likes to point and click and get instant answers. Our annual world celebrates the quick and easy. It is much like buying the beautiful flowering annuals that create an instant garden. Now, I love to plant showy flats of marigolds and begonias just like the next person, but I am reminded at the end of the season that they don’t last very long. Patience of a perennial heart is a lasting reward.
What makes perennial plants different? Much of perennial work occurs under the ground. Perennials grow a lasting structure and they carefully re-seed. Perennials are able to weather storms or an accidental shovel because their roots have grown deep into the soil. They can adapt and seek shelter and regrow. They trust in God’s timing. Perennials watch the passing shows of annuals grace the stages of flowerbeds and they wait patiently for God’s timing instead. They endure and persevere and wait. In God’s perfect timing, their tender shoot bursts through the soil, giving God all the glory as they display their proud flowers.
I need a perennial heart don’t you? God speaks of plants and seeds, farming and cultivating, and waiting for the harvest throughout the Bible. God’s answers and actions often take place after a period of waiting. God is at work, even if is taking place in the deep soil of our hearts. There is something special about waiting. Like a seed or bulb, God tells us to wait for His placement and timing. A little seed is useless until it dies to itself. The seed cracks open as germination takes place. It is reborn and given new life. God does that in our hearts when we surrender to Jesus. He has a good and perfect will for our lives and when we place our trust in Him, when we pray, and when we wait, we are germinating. We are bulbs resting and growing underground so that in God’s timing He can use us to show His glory to the world. A perennial heart is patient.
- In 2 Timothy 2:24 we are told to be patient with difficult people. Additionally, Paul tells us in this passage that as a servant of the Lord, we are to be kind to everyone and not quarrel.
- In Genesis 6:6-12 God tells us to be patient with difficult circumstances. After the rains stopped, Noah waited. No doubt craving space to stretch out, fresh air to breathe, and the absence of the boat’s sway under their feet, his family and the animals waited for God’s timing before they exited. Romans 5:3-4 tells us that problems and situations help us develop endurance and perseverance, which strengthens our character and grows our faith and trust in God.
- In Psalm 142 God reminds us to be patient in distress. “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn…” (Psalm 142:3).
- Psalm 127 God reminds us to be patient with our goals. In all of our pursuits (even our dreams and areas we feel called to serve), the LORD must be our firm foundation. This psalm reminds us that unless The LORD is the builder, our work will be wasted.
- Romans 8 reminds us that the best is yet to come. We are reminded to be patient for the future. Romans 8:18 says that “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
While these are just a few examples, we are reminded that there is care and beauty and strength in the waiting. Having a perennial heart in an annual world isn’t always easy, but let us remember that God’s glory is always worth the wait.