Friday, May 6, 2011

Planting Season (by Judy)

Planting is much on my mind these days. Because we hardy residents of northeast Ohio live in Zone 5, we are just now approaching the time that we can think putting small seedlings into the ground. It has been a tough winter, and one of the wettest springs on record, so we are eager, but cautious. I have students lined up this very day to clean out the raised beds, turn over the soil, and distribute bales of straw on mounds where native grasses are just beginning to sprout.

At the same time, my church is wrestling with decisions related to growth. The basic question is, in an effort to reach those who have yet to hear the Good News of God’s love and grace, should the church build a new, larger sanctuary on its existing campus; or would the money be better spent by planting new, smaller churches in areas of the region where no one is preaching the Bible with clarity and conviction.

And then, last week we spent a wonderful time in Seattle with my family from China as they considered whether that beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest would be a safe landing when they decide to return “home" - and if they do, are there implications for my husband and me, as we consider where we want to spend our retirement years. The idea of a move from what is familiar and agreeable is daunting – but at one point, I asked myself whether I have lost my sense of adventure, or am I still someone who can “bloom wherever I am planted”?

Three different scenarios - all related to today’s reality and the future’s possibilities. I wondered what the Bible has to say and found God’s Word abundant on the issue. Jeremiah laid his message out in a letter from Jerusalem to his people who were in exile in Babylon: "Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food you produce." Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, says: "So please don't, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you. Friends, be what you are called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with him at your side." And a favorite, back to Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Iris DeMent sings in an old gospel hymn:
I'm pressing on the upward way
New heights I'm gaining every day
Still praying as I onward bound,
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

There we are – PRAY ON. No worry. No fear. Why? Because God has said over and over in His Word, the same five words, “I will be with you.” This doesn’t assure me that there is no more frost in the spring of 2011. It doesn’t say clearly whether my church should build. I am not positive that my bones will be buried in Seattle. But one thing I know for sure. When I stay grounded (literally and spiritually), Psalms 16:5 is true - "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure."


  1. Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 begins, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." If you open your Bibles to this familiar ground you will be reasurred that God has everything ready in His own time!

  2. It is interesting that your church is thinking of expanding while other churches are struggling to stay open. Your church must be doing very well =) Lovely post once again.

  3. As someone who has moved a lot in recent years, I have found wonders wherever I am, new things to do and new friends. But I never found what I have here in Ohio: friends and family who share my history.