originally published August 15, 2016
There’s a fabulous children’s book out there called The Carrot Seed.
It goes like this:
“A little boy planted a carrot seed.
His mother said, ‘I’m afraid it won’t come up.’
His father said, ‘I’m afraid it won’t come up.’
And his big brother said, ‘It won’t come up.’
Every day the little boy pulled up the weeds around the seed and sprinkled the ground with water.
But nothing came up.
And nothing came up.
Everyone kept saying it wouldn’t come up.
But still he pulled up the weeds around it every day and sprinkled the ground with water.
And then, one day,
a carrot came up
just as the little boy had known it would.”
I have a carrot seed that I feel like God planted years ago. It is the seed of gentleness. And years ago I had the faith that it would spring forth and I would become more and more gentle. And I’ve heard it all…I’ve been called every opposite of gentle: fierce (my favorite), aggressive (most recently), passionate, intense, etc, etc. But gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that can’t be. It can be…it’s how it ought to be in me. And I feel like the little boy. I hear it all, I try to weed the garden every day (not always and not always with his faith), and Nothing comes up! But I still believe it will.
I have been reading this book called Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton with a dear sister. It’s a the most validating book I’ve read in a long time. It is so validating of my heart, emotions and placement in my walk with Jesus. In one chapter she talks about waiting for the Lord to change our hearts. She says, “Just like everything else that is of significance in the spiritual life, God must accomplish this for us. That is why all we can do is pray and wait…” Later she writes, “This period of waiting may feel very dark. But strangely enough, it will also feel deeply right – as if we are right where we need to be.” Yes… while The Carrot Seed doesn’t depict the darkness of pulling the weeds everyday, we all know that pulling up the weeds of life and our own sin can be intensely dark. So much so that we often don’t really do it. That’s why I mentioned that “every day”is not yet the kind of faith that I have. It’s tedious, and unlike the boy with the carrot seed, I find it much easier to believe the hecklers and voices that the Enemy far more than I believe that carrot is going to come up!
I am finding myself far more comfortable in my life as a sinner than I ever have. I am uncomfortable with the sin but so very much more comfortable knowing that I am in fact a sinner with more sin that I can ever “deal” with. I am finding that this place of waiting for breakthrough and change, while it feels so very dark, it is also so very right. I used to spend all my time talking myself out of being a sinner. Who wants to be a sinner full of dark, ugly sin? I would justify it and talk about it lightly like it was going away and that because of the cross of Christ I could ignore it now. But I am finding myself learning how to be comfortable with the idea and uncomfortable with staying here. And I think it is so very right. I don’t believe in playing in your sin or wallowing in it so much that it is debilitating. But to be real and to LIVE knowing how much you need the cross, and hope and grace, it is so very freeing.
There is an older Shane and Shane song that has become my breath prayer…one part goes like this…
“Be near, oh God. Your nearness to us is our good…”
His nearness is what I want. It’s what I need. I need to Him to be so close that He is my good! His nearness is what produces the carrot. It’s the water. It’s the weeding. I need Him so very near. My good is only and ever wrapped up in Him.
So I wait for the carrot seed of gentleness to spring forth. And I believe that it is coming. And I have seen glimpses of the carrot.
You know what I love about the book… The last page when the carrot comes up… It’s HUGE. It’s so big that the little boy is wheeling it away in a wheelbarrow. Yes, and Amen! Let it be, Lord.