The Clematis Vine
I bought the plant in June last year. The sales lady promised it would grow quickly and produce abundant blooms in a good display of color. Never doubting her word, I returned home with anticipation of seeing this happen in Canada’s short summer months. The pot was placed at the base of a tree in the yard with a small trellis to help it get a start climbing up the trunk.
A few weeks of watering and waiting went by, but nothing. A few more, and still nothing, not even a few inches of growth. The promise had been for a sure winner, but I could see no indication of that being true. As the summer passed and the rest of the garden flourished, that plant never did.
With winter now approaching, the few plants that couldn’t take the cold were dug up and brought inside. I’d given up on the clematis weeks before, and the dry stub now appeared to be dead. Walking past it, I don’t know why, but I picked up the pot and carried it in with the others. Perhaps it was pity for what should have been, or maybe just hope against hope.
Our home is small and the sunroom was already crowded, so the pot ended up under a table in the corner. We went elsewhere for two weeks at Christmas and arrived back home in January. And as one does after being away, I looked about the house to confirm that all was well. Upon entering the sunroom, my gaze reached the clematis pot and stopped. There were now two short vines about three feet long growing from its root.
It made no sense, as I had literally stopped trying to make the plant grow months before. And yet, here it was bursting into life! Amazed at this turn of events and feeling somewhat guilty for having doubted, I trellised some strings up the wall for the vines to climb. Now in mid-February they’ve reached the ceiling and have begun to produce delicate purple blooms.
This morning I paused while reading, and looking up, my eyes fell upon this living illustration. We’ve spent the summer of our lives tending to God’s garden, and much has gone well. Yet there are some things that have brought disappointment and heaviness of heart. Some of the hopes and expectations we held on to for so long no longer appear likely to happen.
I have no doubt our dreams were diligently cared for and watered generously with the Word. And unlike my giving up on the clematis plant, I never lost hope for miracles. I refuse to allow shortsightedness and doubt to now rob me of that.
Perhaps God is giving this encouragement to hang on longer, to keep believing His promises, that even in winter with few apparent signs of life, a root system is developing under the surface that will help to provide the necessary support when God’s time arrives for that which is dormant to burst forth in new life.
Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
I know these things by faith, but am like the man who told Jesus, “I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.” Funny how God could answer that prayer with this plant. My expectation for the sales clerk’s promise was limited to the short window of summer. God’s plan was different, with not much in sight planned for that time. But now I see He was just getting started on what was to come.
Jesus expects us to believe without seeing in so many ways. He told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”1
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for reminding me You are at work beyond time and space. I admit my hope through the years has been to see Your promises fulfilled while here in this life. Now as time quickly passes, soon to be no more, I’m accepting that some of those fulfillments will be later. Please help me be faithful here in Your garden, and to trust, as I pray for You to accomplish Your purpose in each unique and special way. Amen.
It’s minus 18 degrees outside today, with a foot of snow, and the evergreen trees are about the only witness of life. At this time of year, winter begins to drag on. We’re tempted to lose hope that this frozen world will ever change, let alone be transformed into one bursting with life. Yet we know it will, and soon, when spring arrives!
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.—Isaiah 55:8–12
1 John 20:29.