My hands reached out to grab the wire fence. It was too late. I collapsed into the soft dirt exhausted, feverish, and unable to think clearly. The fence was only a few feet away, so I crawled to it, ignoring the mud seeping into my jeans. I leaned against the fence, let it tilt under my weight, and rested my weary body.
Where I am weak, He is strong.
Strength is my weakness.
Ten minutes went by. Sheer black birds soared circles over my head. Bumblebees buzzed past me, skipping gaily to the tune of the grasshoppers. Trees danced in the wind, and the fluffy, white clouds flew over us all serving as the scene’s audience and master. I sat square in the middle.
When finally my heart felt strong enough to stand, I clutched the fence and pulled myself up. The garden stretched out in front of me, huge and overwhelming. I let my eyes wander. None of the plants bore fruit, and it was already close to June. The ground was dry as baby powder, weeds were overtaking the plants, bare ground, and fences, and each seedling I’d sown so lovingly now sported leaves that were brown, coarse, and curling at the tips.
Something was different about my reaction this time. Years ago, I would have recognized a problem and run to fix it. When the leaves turned green again, they bore fruits, and that was that. Now, I saw them differently. Each speckle of greenery was a life, and somehow, I loved those little lives. They’d never borne fruit for me, never done anything for me, yet I loved them.
I took a step forward, then two, then three. My weak arms grabbed the hoe, and I began chopping away the weeds with all my might. “No, you don’t belong here,” I threw one over the fence and chopped some more, “How dare you choke this seedling?” Chop, chop, chop.
My feeble legs kept me up, my shaky arms threw themselves time and time again into that hoe, ignited by a burning love I didn’t know I possessed. When I could chop no more, I sat down in the dirt and yanked the weeds out with my fingers. These plants were mine. I’d grown them, I’d loved them, I’d cared for them, and I wouldn’t let the weeds overtake them, I wouldn’t let the parched ground overcome them.
I pulled until my arms were like noodles, then I hauled buckets and buckets of water into the garden and poured life into those little seedlings. I knelt down to the sickly plants and gently pulled away the browned, wrinkling leaves. Then I fell to the ground again, and laid my head on the dirt.
No, I wasn’t frustrated with myself. I wasn’t sad because I didn’t have the energy to stand. Instead, I turned my exhausted head to stare at the plants. My plants. The weeds were gone, puddles of water and life surrounded them, and numerous brown leaves had been tossed over the fence. I smiled. They were still sickly, but I’d poured my love and care into them, and they would grow tall and green, I had faith.
Two days later, I was strong. It was a good day. I could stand, walk, and even trot up the stairs. My fever was low-grade, and I could think relatively straight. I wheeled four gallons of water down the hill and let the garden gate creak open.
A brilliant sight met my eyes. My baby plants had grown two to three inches in the last two days, and such a beautiful color of green radiated from their leaves. The brown spots were gone, the weeds thrown over the fence, and flowers blossomed.
I unscrewed the tops of the gallons and let water rain down onto the luscious plants.
As you pour life and love and care into these sickly plants, I pour life and love and care into you.
I screwed the top back on and grabbed another gallon. When I was sick, my plants were also sick because I didn’t have my life to pour into them. But when I was well, my plants were also well, vibrant, and full of life.
When you wilt, I love you. When you dry up and cannot take another step, I water you with My life. When weeds surround you and choke your throat, I care for you.
I identified with those plants. They were sick—just like me—but the love I had for them was like the love God had for me. I took a deep breath and poured the last of my water. My body was far from perfect healing. It would be years before I could say I was one hundred percent healthy.
But until you are healed, I will water you with My life day by day, footstep by footstep, hour by hour. As you have cared for these plants, I will not fail to care for you.
I picked a flower and weaved it through my hair. I threw an empty jug over my shoulder, patted my plants lovingly, and by the love of God, I sprinted up the hill to my house on strong, healthy legs. The struggle was far from over, and little did I know, the worst days were yet to come.
But I would keep, hold, and forever cherish His promises.
His love would not let me go.
That is beautiful, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing!!
I’m so glad you were encouraged, Emily! You’re very welcome.
I always appreciate when God gives us little reminders of Himself in our day-today lives. Very well written!
Oh, Stephanie, this is lovely. I love your writing style, and the way you speak life. Where can I find more of your writings?
Aw, Genesis, you’re so sweet. I’m glad you were encouraged! Honestly,
my short stories and articles have faded a bit these past few months as
I’ve poured all my time into my novel. There are a few excerpts and
things on my blog though. If you click on my picture, you should find the link. I’ll see if I can get some older stories and
articles up there for you.
Thanks, I’m working on my own book as well, it’s a children’s story, smaller than a novel but larger than a picture book. I hope to have it done by the end of Summer. Do you have any advice for a beginner?
Oh my, I’m definitely no writing professional. I would suggest learning from older writing mentors, learning to make every word count, and remaining consistently in prayer and the Word of God concerning your writing and every other aspect of life. I hope that helps!
Will do, thanks for putting your voice out here. I can see Jesus in your writing.
Thanks for the beautiful story! Such a sweet reminder!
I still a lot with keeping myself up I needed this thank you.
Thank you for writing this.
Touched the deep places of my heart, Stephanie! So often our most passionate and meaningful writings stem from our pain. Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself. I know God is using this testament of His love and care for you.
Thanks for sharing this, Stephanie! It’s hard work to release our illness to Jesus and let him have his way as he refines us through it. Your words bring encouragement and challenge to this weary heart. <3
Thanks so much, Linnette! Your words touch me deeply. Keep fighting the battle. I’m praying for you!
Thanks, Stephanie! I’ll pray for you, too!
Thanks for sharing, this is beautiful. I believe God will richly bless your book and your life. When I read this I thought of my Mom, who is enjoying her gardening in heaven now. She worked her garden every day to the fullest (with love), until about a year before her death. During that time she did not have the strength to work it. I am sure God has the perfect garden for her to take care of.
Thank you so much.
Aw, I’m so glad it could be a blessing. Your description of your mom’s care for her garden is truly heartwarming. What a beautiful picture.