Stories of a good God

Posts tagged ‘how God speaks’

Soil Matters

I love my garden.

It makes my heart sing.

Circis ‘Avondale’: Soil matters ©Beth Kennedy 2020

In Australia, this blossom is not common. It is so uncommon that people slow down outside our home, roll down the window and take photos (night and day). The display is breathtaking, and I feel so fortunate to have four in my garden.

Two years ago, during a very challenging season, two died. For many they are ‘just trees,’ but to me, they were a silent, gentle joy that died amid the storm.

I asked our gardening gurus who designed our garden to look, and as kindred spirits, they wept with me (figuratively). The deaths puzzled them. Everything around the trees was flourishing. The trees had put on a magnificent display…  and then died.

In my stubborn way, I sourced two more baby trees. My husband and I dug up the old and planted the new, with fresh, beautiful soil.

Look at them now. There’s two, one behind the other:

Circis Avondale: new trees a joy to behold ©Beth Kennedy 2020

With March 2020 came Lockdown 1. Like a gentle garden gnome, I crept into the garden and allowed my heart to sing quietly as the world mourned. With sad news, I would seek solace in the soil, in my garden.

March is Autumn for the Southern hemisphere. I did what I knew: I watered, I weeded, I turned the soil to let it breathe, I fertilised, and I waited. I then planted for Spring – pansies, silver beet, beetroot, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, snap dragons, mint, parsley… It was a time of rest in my garden.

People walked past, pointing to the vegetable patch, the trees, the colour of Autumn. I waved to them from my garden beds or my verandah. They would stop and comment on the pansies, planted by the gardenias; my cabbages and broccoli planted amongst the flowers, and many smiled at the mixture of vegetables and flowers in my vegetable patch.

Various family members sat on the porch chairs. We moved into winter, and weather permitting, I sought afternoon solace in the sun with a cup of tea, chai or coffee. I often sat quietly, cherishing the blessings around me. I found Joy amidst the storm, and I knew my trees would bloom come Spring.

One of the original 2 trees bloomed early, with magnificence. My heart sang. The rest followed. I felt peaceful Joy as I came in from my walks. During Lockdown 2, these gentle moments of beauty remind me, remind my family, my local community, that this too shall pass…

And then I noticed it. One of my original, beautiful Circis Avondales was dying. The one that had blossomed first, with apparent vigour and glory.

I called the experts.

It perplexed them; it made no sense. They were doing so well, and everything under the trees was flourishing – gardenias, daphne…

I continue to turn my gaze to the beauty ©Beth Kennedy 2020

If you look closely at the first photo above – in the bottom right-hand corner, you will see a little dried up stick. That stick is my dying Circis Avondale. I don’t have the heart to show you the rest.

I continue to turn my focus to moments of beauty, cherishing what is before me, aware a new tree will be possible after lockdown. Yet I am sad knowing I have lost 8 years of growth.

Last week, our garden guru solved the mystery:

‘My heart has been breaking over these Circis. I’m devastated but think the other trees had phytopthera. It’s a disease that can be in the soil or in mulch. …’

Oh!

I learnt two years ago that a dying (or even a dead tree) can bloom with great beauty. The sugar reserves  built from the previous season provide enough energy for a dying tree to bloom with grandeur. They looked amazing. But when it was time to develop further into the season – they died. They were all show, with no substance.

It was last Friday morning that God talked to me about my tree.

‘ … it’s about the soil’ I felt Him say as I woke.

This season… it’s all about the soil!

Many times last week I used the example of the apple tree. Friends call, with dreams and plans. With 200+ days in tough restrictions, my friends (and I) feel frustration. We know it’s a time of rest, reset, but we want to get going… produce fruit now

As I feel the frustration, I step back into the One that knows…

The apple tree grows, it buds, it flowers, insects pollinate, it fruits.

I need not push the fruit out. Fruit comes from a place of being who and Whose I am.

BUT

If the soil is not heathy… if disease, or dis-ease, creeps into the soil, not only will the crop produce less than what’s it is capable of, the tree risks death. It cannot flourish or even grow. It may look great on the outside as it dies, but in its beauty there is great sadness – nothing will remain.

The Israelites rested their land every 7 years from crops – they rested the soil. And every 50 years was a year of Jubilee… Wise people!

‘We are in a year of rest,’ I say to my friends (needing to hear it myself too).

‘… but rest does not mean “do nothing.”

This year is about the soil. We must care for our soil each day. We cannot afford to run on energy past, or on sugar alone. It’s a new season with additional needs.

‘Attend to the soil,’ He whispers, ‘so that what has been planted will grow. In its appointed time – fruit will come…’

There is no push.

With good soil maintenance, fruit will come…

In this season, I’m quietly addressing the condition of my heart. Everything is gently being turned over; everything is being changed, readjusted. Thought patterns and behaviours that I may have been able to get away with in a previous season, just will not carry me into the next time of growth. I am being called to a higher standard, and from that internal change, my outward behaviour will follow. I may fall, but I will get up. If I fail, I will fail forwards… asking forgiveness as I go.

I am being called to prepare the soil…

And if the soil is good, if I’m planted in a healthy community, and I listen to the ‘next’, I need not strive to grow fruit.

Fruit will come with ease because…

God is Good!

Who are you walking with? The Hebrews 11:11 walk of faith – God is Good!

Last week while out walking with my husband, I was struck by how as a couple we walk in sync with one another, and when one or the other of us is slightly out of sync, we will adjust our walk to the one beside us. It makes the walk one of ease and comfort.

We were walking, holding hands, and we were slightly out of sync, which made our holding hands awkward, so I did a little hop, skip and jump, to come into sync with my husband’s stride, and our walk returned to one of ease.

As I did my little ‘dance’ and I felt a stirring from Jesus, my husband. He highlighted this little manoeuvre for me, and as He did, I glanced at my phone – it was 11:11… again.

11:11 means a few things to me.

A few years ago, when God was talking to me about the church needing to wake up, it was ‘Wakey Wakey time’ (thank you Beni Johnson circa 2009/10ish), which was a direct reference to Lazarus waking up (see John 11:11). For others, 11:11 may mean something else. But for me, in this moment, it meant the ‘walk of faith’ regarding Hebrews 11:11:

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.

(Hebrews 11:11 NIV)

‘The walk of faith,’ I thought.

I looked at our legs walking in unison, my left leg striding out with his right leg, hands held swinging in time, my right leg then striding out with his left – they looked like the walk of 11:11.

Can you see it?

leg leg: leg leg

11:11

I know, it’s how my brain works, because you see, I see God talking to me. He talks to me through what I see, through patterns, numbers, strange happenings (remember Moses’ burning bush in my last post?). It’s not just what I hear or know or sense, I also see, and there are many ways to see…

It’s 4am in the morning here in Australia as I write. He asked me to get up and ask the following question. I suppose it is an important question to Him:

‘Who are you walking with?’

Andrew, my husband, was symbolic of Jesus. I need to be in an easy sync with Him – with Jesus by my side. I must adjust my stride to be by His side, at ease in my walk with Him…

BUT

I also need to be in an easy sync with my actual husband – my life running partner, I need to adjust my step to be with him, and sometimes he needs to adjust his step for me. He often complains that I run ahead too fast… 🙂

BUT

we all need community and singles (or married’s with unbelieving spouses) this then also covers you, as it does married couples (our spouse cannot be everything we need). We all need community. So I ask:

Who are you running with?

The answer is important, especially now, in this ‘Kairos’ time, in this time of challenge.

We are in a rapidly changing world, life (including church) is being shaken to its core, and who we associate with, who we hang out with, what we read, fill our minds with, who we allow to influence our growth forms us and so I ask again:

Who are you running with?

Whoever they are, I suggest at least three things are essential:

1. they will call out the gold in you, helping you brush away the dirt to uncover your essence, your true self. They will celebrate you and let you shine. They certainly will not try to make you a cardboard cutout of themselves. But, please also let them shine;

2. they are people you can lean in and run with, learn from, trust. They need to be encouraging you ‘to come a little higher.’ And, you may be that person for them too, for iron sharpens iron. But I suggest that at least a one or two have done a few more miles in an area where you need to grow. You may also encourage and help them grow too, but your community needs to include a few people who will stretch you, but always in kindness;

3. they are people you can sew into. I believe that we all need to be running with others that we encourage and call higher too. We all need to ‘pay it forward!’ This is how the Body grows, each encouraging the other to become fully alive to Him, Jesus Christ.

So, it’s time to find your tribe. It’s time for me to find my tribe. It’s time for us to find our tribe…

I think this is essential because it’s time for the meat. No more milk fed adults. Milk fed adults are not healthy adults. Kingdom rule requires Kingdom adults.

So, it’s time to grow up!

God wants mature kids because…

God is Good!

I’d love to know what you are doing to find this sort of community, a community that inspires you to grow.

Have you found people who honour you, who see you, yet who call you higher?

Or, are you facilitating groups online or locally to help others grow into who they truly are? If so, let us know what that looks like – it won’t always look the same, but it would be interesting to hear other people’s journey.

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