(September 1, 2021) Robert McQuillan ponders…
It’s Wednesday September 1, Australia’s first day of spring – and what a beautiful warm day it is, with happy walkers and chirping birds flying around, some even landing to bathe in our backyard fountain!
Actually, all round it’s been a pretty good winter here but now we can look forward to really warmer days and a good season of gardening time ahead!
Gardening! Umm… I must confess that I’m not a gardener! Now we do have a beautiful garden but it’s the result of Maureen’s handiwork! I delight to see the flourishing new plants she has planted and the healthy growing trees that she has been well trimmed. And many more of Maureen’s gardening creations around our attractive property.
Gardener’s misinterpreted comments
Yesterday we watched that 1979 satire classic, Being There with Peter Sellers brilliantly playing Chance, a simpleminded, uneducated gardener. After being accidentally hit by the car of Ben Rand, an advisor and confidant of the American president, he’s taken to Rand’s luxurious home to be cared for.
There he’s mistakenly called Chauncey Gardiner and assumed, from his oldish but expensive attire, that he’s an upper-class, highly educated businessman. In actual fact, his old employer/benefactor had just died and Chance, always allowed to wear some of the old man’s clothes, has walked out into a world he’d never, ever been in before.
Repeatedly, Chance’s simple words are misinterpreted, especially in a first meeting with the president who regards Chance’s words as being profound, especially his simplistic utterances about gardens and the weather. He and his confidant Rand, soon to die himself, interpret these as allegorical statements of the state of their country’s economy and business in general.
Growth has its seasons
The president asks a deep question about governmental policies: ‘Mr. Gardiner… do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?’ Simpleminded Chance, after a long pause, replies quietly, ‘As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.’
This confuses the president but Chance adds simply, ‘In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.’
Rand eases the president’s mind by remarking, ‘I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we’re upset by the seasons of our economy’ and Chance adds, ‘Yes! There will be growth in the spring!’
The president cheerfully says, ‘Well, Mr. Gardiner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I’ve heard in a very, very long time. I admire your good, solid sense. That’s precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.’
Later, at Rand’s funeral, he himself makes an interesting remark : ‘Life is a state of mind.’
God-centred state of mind
Today many people are concerned by covid-19 dangers and deaths, our troubled economy and current disastrous world affairs such as in Afghanistan.
A great state-of-mind-life for Christians comes from a mindset of knowing the Lord is still in charge. And through knowing God’s will for us and following through on his directions – walking in faith on the waters of confident trust in him.
For a while now a number of such Christians have been seeking God’s will and searching scripture. They share along these lines: ‘I sense that God has something new for me but I’m not exactly sure what…’ Others have boldly stated, ‘I believe the Lord would have me be (or do)…’
Regarding church services in today’s uncertainty, thoughtful Christians are agreeing that many churches need ‘a new spiritual spring’ and be more open to the Holy Spirit – the great gardener of the church universal. To quote Chance, ‘There will be growth in the spring!’
And spring is always followed by summer (Genesis 8:22)! Applying Chance’s ‘insightful, optimistic statement’ and trusting Jesus, we have the hope of change because spring is here, and we can believe for a great summer in God.
In this connection, there’ll always be times when kingdom-centred Christians will be aware of new things ahead but not too sure exactly what. Sometimes it comes about when we’re going through some trail or difficult circumstance so we must wait patiently on the Lord, pray, suss things out, hang in there and trust our God.
Growth requires unsevered roots
We ourselves have been going through something like that and, to quote Chance, because ‘the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.’ Our key? Being deeply rooted in Jesus and Bible truths!
In Matthew 13 and 15, Jesus made some profound statements. Our Lord warned that we should have such deep roots and, in John 15, urged us to remain rooted in him, the true vine, and bear much fruit.
‘My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality’ wrote Paul in respect of certain matters (Philemon 1:7Mge). This has been our own personal reality, our Christian roots – trusting in the Lord and obeying what he directs us to do.
In life seasons come and go. Any spiritual springtime brings many blessings to all who are strongly rooted in Jesus, God’s word, prayer and trusting. That wise king, Solomon, put it so well when he wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1, ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’
‘Season’ indicates ‘a fixed time or an appointment’ and the Message Bible puts verse one this way: ‘There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time…’
Godly growth requires trust
Our seasons in God can simply mean that our time in a particular ministry, career, city… whatever … is up. Are you, like some friends we have in America, currently sensing it’s time to move on and are searching?
Over several decades now, we’ve felt this way at different times. Then, as we’ve searched God, direction, clarity, balance, wisdom and direction have come as we’ve waited on him. And then we moved in faith, trusting God!
A number of preachers have called this covid-19 time ‘God’s wake-up call.’ Whatever… it would appear that the Lord is seeking to do something new for Christians with open hearts and willing to respond. Things become clearer as we seek God. It’s all a matter of trusting him and being open to whatever he had destined for us.
Some will respond, ‘I’ve been feeling that in my heart’… but do nothing, remaining content with the status quo. Church history has many examples of those who have moved willingly into new growth as God has provided opportunity to serve him more fruitfully… David Livingstone, Oswald Smith, Eric Liddell, Marie Monsen, C T Studd (known for having fame and giving it away) …
Spring is here – even now the Lord is challenging certain followers to move on into new areas… career, locale and ministry. But are we willing to move, to trust and readily take steps of faith with an awareness of God’s timing?
Godly appointed occasions
Remember… ‘Seasons’ refer to an appointed occasion – not a willy-nilly, shot-in-the-dark, hope-it-works-out possibility. Seek God, both in prayer and his word, and know in your heart that you have definitely heard from him. He is not the God of silence, some lifeless image!
Wise Solomon advises: ‘Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do … he’s the one who will keep you on track’ (Proverbs 3:5-7Mge).
God will direct us in everything – if we commit everything to him in faith and trust! Verse 23 gives comforting assurance: ‘You’ll walk safely, and your foot will not stumble.’ If we are willing to acknowledge God in absolutely everything, he will clearly lead us.
The dedicated Christian life is lived on a daily step-by-step basis. Virtually every day will present some opportunity to commit to God something either simple or involved – and discover his leading.
I can share with you that again and again over many years God has proved his fatherly concern to lead Maureen and I in every ‘gardening’ aspect of life… career, health, finance, schooling and careers for the kids, counselling troubled people, encouraging pressured ministers, home/car purchasing, little things, huge matters, new ministry and more.
In a ‘God-season’?
Search the garden of your heart in case it’s merely some inner dissatisfaction that needs dealing with. If you really know that the Spirit is leading, keep searching God, reading his word, being open to balanced sermons, even sharing with your spiritual advisor.
Jesus warned in Luke 12:56-57 (Mge), ‘… don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season of God, the God-season we’re in right now. You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense…’ And in Romans 12, Paul encourages renewing our mind. Verse 2 Message says, ‘Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.’
You may even encounter the miraculous! Maybe not walking on water as Chance does in that movie’s closing moments but, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, that great garden grower, you can move forward into a new spring growth of trusting faith and satisfaction.
But… ensure your roots in Christ aren’t severed.
Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s links are OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook. Links: The Fruit of the Spirit / Geraldine Brandt’s Abiding in the Vine / Brian Bell’s Finishing Well
Good word! Yesterday we enjoyed the first flower to appear on a plumeria tree my husband has been growing since he got the baby stalk a few years ago. We all ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ over the beautiful blossom, but the real miracle is under the soil. Thank you for reminding us to tend the roots, which are not the glamorous part of life, but the most important!
Here in the UK — while the 1st September has also been a lovely day of warm sunshine — we are moving into autumn, made more evident to us as darkness of night comes earlier. Lord enable us to be faithful in our daily experience and to remember that Jesus is the same (in his nature) yesterday, today and forever.