One of the first years we were married, we decided to plant a garden, but we didn’t have a place for it in the yard of the house we were renting. We came up with the “genius” idea to start the plants in small pots in our house. We had three plastic tubs full of small cups of soil and seed. We watered them and moved them outside on nice days for sunlight. When the first signs of green growth appeared, we were excited; the plan was to take them back to my parents’ house and transplant them into their large garden. However, the plants withered before we even got a chance to put them in the garden. All of that time and energy bringing them to life wasted; our “tub garden” was a flop. Each spring we joke about getting out the tubs, which we still have in the garage, and starting our little indoor garden. Thankfully, we now have our own garden in the backyard, and each spring, I look forward to watching it grow. As the tiny little seeds nestled in the ground emerge as green sprouts, without much help from us, it always reminds me of the miracle of life and how amazing God is.
Throughout the Bible, God often uses the image of plants, growth, and producing fruit. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Isaiah 61:11 states, “For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” Jesus tells two parables in the New Testament using seeds to deliver his message. In Ezekiel 17, the Lord tells his prophet to share a parable with the people. He tells of an eagle breaking off part of a tree and replanting it. Though the soil is rich and near water, the branch withers. Then the Lord breaks a branch and transplants it on the mountain heights. This branch thrives and produces a large tree providing a home for many birds and shade for those beneath.
In Ezekiel’s parable the eagle’s time and energy was wasted like our little “tub garden,” because the plant withered and produced no fruit. The plant that the Lord transplanted, though, thrived and produced fruit despite it being planted on the mountain heights. I think that God wanted the people, and us, to see that when we trust the world or man to help us prosper, we end up withering like the eagle’s branch. We can fill our lives with all the things the world tells us it takes to be happy: money, material items, experiences, and even friends, but unless those things come from the Lord, we will wither. When we rely on God to move us and provide for us, we will bear fruit. Sometimes it feels like God is ripping us from the ground, uprooting all we know. In those times of trial, we must hold on tightly to him because he may be carrying us on the ride of our lives to the mountaintop. He is transplanting us and preparing us to bear his fruit. Even when we can’t see where he’s taking us, we can trust that he will set us down in a place where we will find healthy soil and fresh water to renew our spirits and produce fruit for him. With God as the transplanter, we will thrive; when we rely on our own strength and means, we wither like the branches carried by the eagle.
Lord, I pray that I trust in you to transplant me. Though the process may be painful, the outcome will produce fruit for you. Thank you for carrying me through these trials and help me to trust in you, holding on tightly as you carry me to the destination you have chosen.