I transplanted about a hundred dead plants. By dead plants, I mean truly withered and brown. They have not seen life in several weeks. This will be one of the most stupid and embarrassing things I have ever done up to now, unless it is of God.
What happened is that I seeded my flowers (vinca) as I do every year, set them outside to acclimate to the weather, covered them with plastic to keep them safe from frost, and created a severe greenhouse effect that killed them off in the noon sun the following day (which I don’t do every year!). If you want more details about this whole process, read footnote (1) below, otherwise continue reading.
Because I believe in a God who has the power to raise the dead, and I was still in the denial stage of grief, I prayed for God to raise the dead. I commanded my dead plants to live, in the name of Jesus. I continued to water them and care for them even after all reasonable hope was lost. But none, save four, showed any life.
About a week ago, as I was continuing to pray about it, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me. (See note (2) on the Holy Spirit below.) He said, “If you want them to live, plant them in the ground. Then, post this online.” Really? It is one thing to believe that God can do miraculous things, and another thing to sacrifice a few hours of my time transplanting dead flowers, but then another thing altogether to put myself on the line by posting my apparent foolishness to the world. What if I am wrong? What if I misheard Him?
So, here I am posting this craziness. Why? Why would God choose to breathe new life into something I killed? Why would He ask me to post about it online? The message He gave me is this: He is the giver of life, and He is going to breathe new life into the Church. He is going to answer prayers in a new and powerful way. The Church often looks weak and powerless, because of our lack of faith. Many of us are facing situations – some are consequences of our own mistakes – that are hopelessly impossible to resolve. While we know that God can do the impossible, we struggle to believe that He will intervene when we ask. Many of our prayers seem to have been unanswered, and our faith is faltering. But now, the Spirit of God is moving. He is going to do the miraculous in our lives. These vinca are a witness to His desire to breathe new life into our lives. He wants to answer your prayers. Even when you have doubts, as I do, step out in faith as if you believe, trusting that your doubts are unfounded. Even when you question yourself, pray for the impossible, expecting God to be glorified through His answer to your prayer.
While there is a part of me that wonders if I am just a ridiculous fool, the Holy Spirit has used extremely unlikely events to assure me that this is His will, so I expect to update this with a photo of blooming vinca (with 4 basil plants mixed in somewhere, see note (3)) sometime this summer.
(1) In March, as I do every year, I carefully seeded 120 vinca flowers (they should look like the Pacifica Burgundy Halo, Pacifica Punch and Pacifica Polka Dot varieties shown here) and 18 basil in Biodome starter kits, with the intention of planting them in our flower beds and herb garden. A few weeks ago, I needed the biodomes for peppers I wanted to seed, so I transplanted everything into cups and set them outside to harden off (acclimate to outdoor conditions). I had successful germination with 97 vinca and 4 basil, so I had 101 Styrofoam cups out on the patio. Since it was going to get down close to freezing that night, I put some old plastic over them to create a makeshift green house that would keep them safe for the night. The next day after church I went to check on them and found that creating such a small greenhouse with no airflow was a bad idea: the air under the plastic was so hot that water vapor was literally steaming off of the cups. My precious plants were roasted like a turkey in November. I pulled the plastic off and tried to save them, but only 4 survived.
(2) The whisper of the Holy Spirit makes me nervous. The Holy Spirit speaks to different people in different ways. For me, His whisper makes me nervous primarily because I worry that I am making things up in my own head. I describe myself as critical in my thinking, because I don’t like to believe something unless there is solid evidence for it. The whispers that I hear from the Holy Spirit sound remarkably like my own thoughts, and if I were a secular psychiatrist, I would have several very plausible explanations of how these thoughts would creep into my mind, and none of them would rely on anything supernatural or divine. Therefore, I often question myself: Am I deluding myself? How do I know that this is the Holy Spirit speaking, and not my subconscious? (I sometimes go so far as questioning, is my whole faith in Christ a farce or just wishful thinking? But then, I remind myself of the very well-reasoned defenses of men like Lee Strobel, C. S. Lewis, and others, and my doubts about Christ are once again laid to rest.) My doubts about the Holy Spirit’s whisper are not as easily tamed, however, because even if the Holy Spirit is real and does speak to us, how do I know that in this instance, it is really is the Holy Spirit, and not my own fantasy? But these whispers often significantly contradict what I think, and often contradict what I want to be true. So, I have taken to putting the Holy Spirit to the test: If I hear something that I think is from the Holy Spirit, I have decided to assume that it really is the Holy Spirit, unless it clearly contradicts the Word of God. In most cases, there are no serious consequences if I am wrong, because He has not entrusted me with knowledge of any great power or influence. In a worst case scenario, I make myself look foolish. But, if it really is the Holy Spirit, I get to grow in my faith, and in communion with the Spirit of God, whom God promised to be our helper or counselor, and whom Christ promised when He told the disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans.” In other words, the rewards significantly out-weigh the risks.
(3) After the plants were all withered, I couldn’t tell which was which, so the basil is planted somewhere among the vinca. If my flower beds bloom with vinca and it is simply a matter of reseeding somehow from last years plants (not likely), there is no chance that 4 basil plants will be mixed in. Last year’s basil was planted no where near the vinca.