My wife, Elizabeth, is an avid gardener. When we lived in Ontario our house was in an older neighbourhood with a pretty good-sized yard. From the time we moved into that house until we moved to Alberta 2 years ago, she spent countless hours in her gardens; digging, weeding, tending, watering – all the stuff that you have to do in order to have a beautiful garden.
I didn’t know anything about gardens – still don’t know much.
But one of the first things I had to learn was the difference between an annual and a perennial; I had to learn this because these were words she used all the time. And, because I wanted to be a good husband, I would often stop in at the Canadian Tire or Home Depot garden centre to buy plants for her as a surprise; plants for her gardens.
While Elizabeth would often use annuals to decorate and landscape, her real fascination is with perennials. A perennial is a plant that grows and blooms during the spring and summer season but then dies back in the fall. BUT when the next spring arrives it will re-grow from its root stock and will repeat the cycle again and again.
An annual plant is one that typically starts from a seed but only survives one growing season. It dies, but doesn’t grow back the next spring.
Every fall, once all the plants in Elizabeth’s garden have dried, turned brown, withered, she would take a day to clean out the flower beds, removing the dead annuals, and cutting away all the dead parts of the perennials, leaving the roots intact.
Then each spring she would anxiously await the green shoots coming up from the soil indicating that the perennials were on their way to filling our yard again with their colour and wonder.
Today, we are couple of weeks into spring, most of our snow has finally melted and our parks and gardens are beginning to see the new growth. It’s one of the joys of springtime, I think. It makes us hopeful for the season to come.
And just like the world around us, we all go through personal seasons in our lives that mirror the ones we see in nature. Sometimes we feel hopeful and optimistic – like the springtime. Sometimes we feel like we’re cruising; like it’s summer. Often times though, we feel like we’re coming to the close of something good, like the fall. And then there are those seasons in our life that feel like winter – things are dead, frozen, dull and seemingly endless.
God designed us to be more like the perennial than the annual. His plan for us is renewal, revival, restoration. His desire for us is to come out of the death we experience in the winter seasons of our lives and to BLOOM again.
But here’s the catch. Jesus is our perennial hope.
Without Him in our lives, we are simply living like an annual. We will live for one season and when we die there is no more hope. It’s just plain old death.