When I was living in my first place after college, I made the rather impulsive decision one Sunday afternoon to buy a package of daffodil bulbs. It was only after I arrived home that I realized I didn’t have anything even closely resembling a shovel. But by that point I was determined to make the bulb-planting happen. Today.
So I pulled out an old knife and thought, How hard can this be? As it turned out, digging 12 inches into the dirt might as well have been muscling to the center of the earth when you’re using a dull kitchen blade. By the time I was ready to drop the final bulb in the ground, my arms were aching and my knees and hands were caked with dirt, but I was feeling pretty satisfied.
Then I took my first real look at the brown, dead-looking thing in my palm. I’d seen plenty of daffodils in the past, and presumably they’d all started out this way, but suddenly I was assailed by doubts. How could something that looked like a rotting turnip be transformed into a sunny, yellow flower? But with a shrug I put the last bulb in the dirt and went inside to retire the now-worthless knife.
I promptly forgot about my little gardening experiment…until the next April. One day I looked out my back window, and to my surprise, a small but tenacious sprout was trying to poke its head out of the cold, unforgiving earth.
Isn’t that a picture of what God does with our lives too? To a casual observer, we look dead, ugly, hopeless. But God doesn’t give up on us. During those seasons when we’re all but buried, when it looks like Satan has won after all—that’s precisely when God does his best redemptive work. He uses those months under the cover of soil to build us up, make us strong, prepare us for who he wants us to be.
And when the first hint of spring arrives, we will stick out our heads, tentatively at first, and then with increasing boldness. As our faces open to the Son, he will transform us. From despair to hope. From death to new life.
And we, turnipy-looking things that we are, will be a tangible display of his glorious grace.