Sometimes you have to have faith like tulips. Sounds strange I know. But think about it. Tulip bulbs are planted way before the leaves ever peek their heads through the earth in Spring. They are put into the ground and spend months in darkness. They go through the long hard winter waiting for their due season. No one can see what is happening under the ground. But the tulip knows there is something better than the present cold, damp and weighted soil that covers it. So it patiently clings to the promise of something not yet seen. Then at just the right time that bulb will finally crack and hints of green life begin to make an appearance. The tulip leaves break through the hardness of the bulb that confined it for a season. Now the plant embarks on the next phase of its journey as the leaves begin to push through that soil. Up up up they go. Slowly but steadily they keep striving towards their goal. The leaves keep pressing through the hard, cold and often still frozen ground because something worth striving for awaits them on the other side of their current surroundings. Their perseverance is rewarded and finally they break through the darkness and leaves emerge out of the ground. At times the ground stubbornly holds tightly to the winter cold by greeting the leaves with the frost of a remnant snowfall. This is of little concern to the triumphant leaves. The plant knows it is just a matter of time before the warmth of sunny days will blanket the earth again. Then at last the once hardened dirt covered bulb will evolve into the promise of a beautiful tulip.
The gardener has his story too. His desire is to enjoy the beauty of tulips in the Spring. So he plants tulip bulbs the previous fall, months before he will ever see his garden graced with blooming tulips. He drops the hard dry bulbs into the ground and covers them with the soil. Then he forgets about them. He does not go back to dig them up in order to check on their progress. He does not worry that the bulb will not yield leaves. He does not worry that the leaves will not be able to push through the frozen earth. He does not worry that his garden will not yield tulips for his enjoyment. He simply trusts that at the right time that bulb is going to crack open, the leaves will make their way through the soil and one day he will look out his window and he will see tulips!
The book of Hebrews in the Bible introduces itself by telling us that faith is hoping and believing for something we have not seen evidence of yet. If you ever need a “faith booster” I challenge you to read what the writer of Hebrews has to say about faith. The eleventh chapter specifically names some amazing Old Testament faith giants. By faith…Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David, Samuel…by faith, by faith, by faith! (Hebrews 11:4-31 NIV). Read these testimonies of faith. You will be inspired and recharged to keep hoping, keep believing, keep walking, keep living…by faith.
So friend, I pose this question now.
Are you the gardener or are you the tulip today?
If you are the gardener I encourage you to keep believing. Your sowing will not be in vain. Trust God to provide what is needed for the seeds you have planted in your life and in the lives of others. Don’t worry about how you will “make” something grow. It may take months or it may take years. Remember, by faith, Abram let God change his name to Abraham which meant father of a multitude. When he took on that name at ninety nine years of age he was way past his prime. (Gen 17:1-5 NIV) Yet when Abraham was one hundred years old his son Isaac was born. (Gen 21:5 NIV) Then there is the story of a boy named David. By Faith David allowed the prophet Samuel to anoint him to be king. But he was only a youth tending sheep when Samuel sought him out among his seven brothers and poured anointing oil on his head. (1 Samuel 16:10-13 NIV) It would be many years before David actually walked the palace floors in his role of a king. He faithfully served King Saul in the palace by first playing his lyre to soothe the tormented king long before he ever took the throne that once belonged to Saul.(1 Samuel 16:23 NIV) By faith Abraham and David waited for their promise.
If you are the tulip, keep pressing forth. I know some days the ground seems too hard, too cold, and too dark. You get weary. You want to quit. You may even wish for the days you were safe in the confines of your “bulb” where there seemed to be no struggle. Please! Keep going and keep growing. Cling to your promise. God never said the journey would be easy. That is why he travels it with you. He promises to stay by us to the end. (Mt 28:20 NIV) Remember Noah and all the ridicule he surely took for building the ark? God warned Noah that there was going to be a devastating flood. Yet no one had even seen rain fall from the sky up to this point in Biblical history. (Gen 2:6) The blue print for the ark was not a weekend “fixer upper” project. But even so, Noah kept pushing through in God’s plans to finish building this massive four hundred and fifty foot ship (Gen 6:15 NIV) which would ultimately become a floating zoo! (Gen 7:8-10 NIV) He had a promise that he and his family would be saved in the midst of devastation. So he pressed through day after day in spite of the great challenges he must have encountered. The Bible says Noah was 600 years old when the flood waters came and he and his family entered the safety of the ark. (Gen 7:6 NIV) By faith Noah waited for his promise.
As I read the stories of these men and women of great faith over and over again, I cannot help but gratefully reflect on my own faith story. God has been so faithful to me over the years and has graciously delivered many promises to me already. But even now, I have a number of promises I am still believing for. Promises for my children and for my grandchildren. Promises for my husband and myself together. Promises for myself personally. I have written them down and even though they may take time to manifest, I know they will come to pass at their appointed time. (Habakuk 2:2-3 NKJV)
Now my friend, I ask you to ponder these questions.
What promises are you believing God for today?
What have you planted in faith with the hope of a beautiful harvest in due season?
I encourage you to lay hold of your promises and do not let go. A dear sister in Christ who is a mighty prayer warrior shared a sweet word with me that the Lord had dropped into her spirit one Sunday morning. In the middle of our worship service He simply said to her, “Don’t give up on the prayers I have not answered yet.” Did you catch that last word? YET! That spoke volumes to me. I may forget some of the things I used to pray for at times but God never forgets. The promise is for an appointed time. Wait for it. God keeps his promises!
I encourage you to let God resurrect the promises you may have forgotten. I encourage you to write them down. I encourage you to keep going, keep believing, keep pressing forth. If God can give a tulip what it needs to bloom, how much more will He give his children? Faith like tulips…it’s a beautiful thing.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Heb 10:36)
PS: I would love to pray for you. What is a promise you are believing God for? Leave a comment and let’s join our “tulip faith” together!
Single Pink tulip: unsplash.com
Gardener’s hands: unsplash.com
Field of tulips: unsplash.com
Tulip leaves in snow: Kathy Pauls