8:18

The return

The return

Here's all that’s left of my favorite plant.

A handful of dried pepper seeds.  Awaiting the spring rains, warmer weather and soft soil.

I’ve had this ornamental pepper plant for years, nursing it through the indoor winter months before taking it outside to thrive in the balmy weather.  But this year, tiny bugs appeared and resisted my organic spray, killing the plants.

Now I wait for the return – of the warmth and the plant.

I thought of these seeds while continuing my reading in Isaiah 55:

10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Here, the seeds are the by-product.  The rain and the melting snow are the primary metaphor for God’s word being sent into the world.  The goal of that outpouring of moisture is a flourishing – both of seeds to keep the growth going and of bread, the enjoyment and nourishment derived from the crop.

It’s an astonishing promise.  God assures us that his word will accomplish the success that he intended.  Though this can be taken generally, the specific thriving intended here is the turning of the hearts of rebellious ones back toward their God, where they can find abundant forgiveness.

The reason I cherished my late plant so much was its riotous array of colorful peppers.  There is an abundance in this plant – not so much bodily nourishment (I have conflicting reports on whether the peppers are edible; if so, they’re likely to be fiery hot), but the soul-edification of beauty.  C’mon… a pepper plant shouldn’t be this beautiful!

But that’s what life through Christ is.  Abundant.  Over the top.  Unimaginably full.  And it comes through the work of God’s word.

As an artist, I know this desire for return.  It’s not quite the same, in that I’m not preaching God’s word overtly through my work.  Creative people don’t wear their art on their sleeves.  But we send out our glimpses of glory, hoping someone will be drawn into the beauty, into our vision of a world governed by a good God.

But it’s not just artists that do this.  You do it.  Every time you show a kindness, speak truth, bring beauty into the world.  And especially when you share Scripture.  You are a part of God’s watering of the earth with his word.

Let it rain.

Father, what a promise!  Even with all the misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and misrepresentation of your word, you will still accomplish what you intend for it.  Make us a part of that process.  Let us bring in a plentiful harvest with you.

Reader: What do you have in your house or garden that best exemplifies the abundance of life in Christ?  Tell me about it.  Better yet, show it to me.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.