This time of year I’m always intrigued by the tulips in my front flowerbed that pop up and open with seemingly little effort or notice to the cold. In Nebraska we have temperatures that dip below freezing in the evenings, sometimes until May. There’s a reason I typically don’t plant any flowers or garden goods until around Mother’s Day weekend and that’s why!!
…But those tulips, which showed up a few weeks ago, are hardy little showstoppers and never seem bothered by the cold. They’re a perennial flower (meaning they come back on their own each year) and always, without fail, they make an early entrance, almost with a wink and twinkle to their petals, as if to say, “welcome Spring.” And then just as quickly as they appear, the petals gently but persistently drop off one by one, leaving only their tall, green leaves to admire over the Summer months—just in time for the salvia and mums to continue their gradual growth journey which last until Autumn.
For myself there’s much to be learned from the tulip, in all of its charm and bravery.
I’m taught that beauty can blossom even in the coldest of times. When my feelings long to utter cries of despair I can rise up against them, drawing strength from the Lord…I don’t need to wait around for more comfortable circumstances or a more favorable environment, much like the tulip doesn’t wait around for the temperatures to warm up and the sun to shine without clouds blocking its view. The tulip plant, instead, obediently listens to God’s cue and at just the right time it burst through the chilled ground, forward and up. What a powerful way to display God’s work of art.
Colossians 2:6-7 (see above) reminds us we have the opportunity and choice to grow—even in hard times. We don’t need to sulk or become dormant, regardless of how cold our world gets. Rather we can lean into God’s goodness, relying on His direction. We place our hope and trust within His flourishing garden of mercy and grace and experience growth.
Within my own personal, mental battle there have been many times where I’ve felt like simply wilting away. But the truth is, wilting doesn’t come that easily…a flower or plant must be overlooked and ignored for a period of time before the wilting process begins. And for us as God’s people that’s just not how God plans our days.
Despite our lowliest times, when we feel forgotten, He shows up and whispers to our heart—through the reminder of a comforting Bible verse, a call from a friend, a word of encouragement from a family member, the whimsical fluttering of a butterfly’s wings, the light shining through our windows at the dawn of a new day. He is in all the details, working it all for good and for His glory.
I was recently reminded how important it is to push forward and do the fun things even if my feelings were telling me otherwise. A few months ago I was at a time where all I wanted to do was say no to everyone and everything, but instead I made the choice to disregard the negative and to say yes. To say yes to a couple of 4-H pigs. Yes you read that right! Pigs are a first for us, a completely new experience on our little acreage but had I answered out of satan’s efforts I would’ve missed the blessing that has followed. And boy has it been entertaining, educational, and downright amazing.
Though I’m still in the ups and downs of anxiety and depression I’ve just said yes again…yes to another new adventure…yes to a trio of Nigerian Dwarf goats and I can already feel the anticipation of God’s favor growing as we prepare to bring them home next month.
Sometimes, when we know something is good, harmless, and right…the best thing we can do is say “yes”…even if our emotions long to urge us in the opposite direction.
Feelings (or emotions) aren’t always reliable, and when they’re negative we must counter them with truth and positivity. Every. Single. Time.
Just like it may not be in the most desirable interest of the tulip to push through the sometimes still freezing ground, it does so anyway at the will of God, and there is so much beauty wrapped up within its little colorful body as a result. If we want to be a people following in God’s steps may we be encouraged to do likewise.