Wednesday, September 2, 2009

High Hopes Out of Deep Water

It used to bloom. Sometimes it still tries, but it didn't bloom this year. Our crape myrtle, my husband's favorite tree with it's riot of ruffled clusters of bright raspberry flowers, should be capable of growing into a shady green canopy to cool all beneath from the blazing Contra Costa sun . . . but it hasn't. We had such high hopes for it when we planted it shortly after we moved into our house in 2000. Shown here (long before I had a good camera) on that fateful Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001, when we knew the world would never be the same and nothing made sense, our crape myrtle was healthy and growing, still young and spindly, but going places. It proudly held our courage-flag as we tried to keep hope alive in the midst of so much death and destruction in an event that felt intolerable. That was 2001--this is 2009. Why, after more than 8 years does that tree look like this? There are thousands of these trees in this area, so it's not that it's planted in the wrong zone. This is a big gorgeous one that grows just down the street, so it must not be that the soil where we live is unsuitable. We have an irrigation system for our landscaping that runs consistently on the scheduled days for the prescribed times. So what's up? A few weeks ago my sweetheart, my Tony, who so wants to love this tree, was really annoyed that his vision of this gorgeous, shady, blossoming wonder just wasn't coming into view. The crazy thing wouldn't die, but it couldn't quite seem to live either. He had an idea. Maybe the water just wasn't getting deep enough to do the roots any good, maybe it was just barely penetrating the surface of our clay-heavy soil and evaporating before the tree could soak any of it in. He took a piece of copper pipe and drove it deep down into the ground parallel to the skinny stick-trunk and trickled water down into the pipe. He told me what he'd done and asked me to run water into the pipe whenever I thought of it. The first time I used his new system, I noticed that the pipe quickly filled with water, but the overflow actually went down into the ground along the pipe instead of running off and rolling away as I had expected. This just might work. Yesterday I went to water the frail little crape myrtle and look what I found!! New green growth!! Healthy little sprigs of hope and life and comeback! Joy and a surprising wave of emotion flooded over me as I saw in a twinkling an image of faith-life I could grab a hold of. Life growing right out of almost-death. Brand-newness springing out of the nearly-gone. Fresh green hope bursting out of dry desperation. Oh that our weary old world would have a touch of life-out-of-death hope! Personally, we could probably all really use some hope-out-of-dryness in finances, battles with besetting sins, and dreams that feel stuck in neutral. Hope. Not the wishful thinking, "I hope so" kind of hope that may or may not come to pass, but the Hebrews 11, conviction-of-things-not-seen kind of hope that KNOWS what it hopes for is certainly, definitely, unfailingly on its way.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV
What brought life and hope out of a barely alive tree . . . and me? The water finally went deep enough. As long as the watering was superficial, the tree was barely clinging to life support, but it wasn't really living and it certainly couldn't grow or bloom. Sometimes I am like that tree, just getting surface doses of Spirit-life and Living Water, but not fully alive, unable to grow or bloom. I need the deep-down soaking of God's Presence and the power of His Word to permeate me all the way down to where the real me is. It's not enough to just hear about God and the Bible on Sunday morning, letting it run off the top of my attention or evaporate in the blaze of the world's false light. I have to daily integrate what I learn of Him and His timeless Word into the places where I live and move and breathe and think and feel--that is the only way I can grow, the only chance I have to bloom and provide shade and beauty in the place where I am planted. Water me deep down, Lord! What about you--will you share with me an instance of hope springing out of dead places? How do you let the Spirit's Living Water soak down deep enough in your heart to saturate You with Himself and create growth and beauty in you?

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