|Photo by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma 2013|
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Seeds of Hope
I recently dreamed that I was walking in a public garden, but it was late fall, and nothing was in bloom. I was sad because what had been beautiful, lush blooms on my previous visit were now shriveled and brown. Even the plants that bore them were withered and gray.
I was surprised to spot an aster head that still had a few lavender petals attached, and many seeds within it. I walked from plant to plant, digging holes with a large twig, and scattering a few aster seeds in each hole before I covered them over with dirt.
But then I realized that each plant was labeled with a marker identifying its specific genus and species, and that none of them were asters except for the one from which I had gathered the seeds. I began to regret my attempts at replanting, as the asters might grow, but possibly at the risk of overtaking the plant designated for each space.
When I awoke and thought about the symbolism of the dream, I was reminded of a passage we had read in our daily devotions a few days earlier, which included the Mosaic Law about not planting a field with more than one kind of seed (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:9). This regulation is not repeated in the New Testament, indicating that it is no longer intended to be followed by God’s people, in contrast to laws such as to honor your parents (Exodus 20:12), repeated not only by Jesus (Matthew 15:4-6) but also by the apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:2-3).
So what was the interpretation of the dream? The largely dead garden reminded me of the times the world is now going through as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only have there been many actual deaths, but also sickness, suffering and financial loss that tend to kill hope within the spirits of all those afflicted and their families and loved ones.
Whether or not we are personally affected in this way, all of us mourn many aspects of our lives that have entered a dormant phase giving the outward appearance of death. Because of the lockdown, we are unable to continue many of our usual activities, work, school, church attendance, and even seeing our extended family, loved ones and communities.
Even many of our ministries appear to have died off, or at least to be suspended in an indefinite limbo. Many believers who serve in church will be unable to do so until the doors reopen, and the nature of this service may change dramatically.
Choirs, for example, are mourning the loss of corporate music, as the breath flow involved in singing is particularly dangerous even when the singers are distanced far apart one from another. The arts and entertainment fields are likely to be among the last to reopen, leaving my husband and me wondering if our dance ministry will ever again enjoy performance opportunities.
Missionaries are particularly affected because of travel restrictions, lockdowns preventing door-to-door visits, and public suspicion regarding tracts or other literature that might harbor virus particles. The Gideons had to suspend placement of Bibles in hotel rooms and other Scripture distributions.
Yet God will not allow His work to cease (Romans 12:10-12), and will give new life to our ministries, although these may be transformed from what they once were. Gardens appear to be dead in winter, and yet we know that they will bloom again in due season, according to His perfect will and timing (Genesis 1:14; Psalm 104:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:10).
The aster in the dream seems to me to represent the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sins (Romans 3:25). The name “aster” means star, and He is the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16) Who appears just before dawn, when all is at its darkest. The purple color of the aster reminds me of His royalty, for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who will one day, soon I pray and believe, return in all His glory (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).
The golden center of the aster reminds me of a King’s crown, again referring to the royalty of Christ, Who is light (1 John 1:5), with the spike-shaped petals radiating as beams of light from the sun. The apostle Peter writes that the testing of our faith by trials of fire, such as the trial of coronavirus that is now testing all peoples and nations, will be found to be more precious than gold when He rewards us at His return (1 Peter 1:7). Interestingly, in ancient times, asters were placed on the graves of dead French soldiers as an expression of longing for an end to battle, and they are said to symbolize qualities of wisdom, faith and bravery.
When Christ returns, all who have been saved by trusting in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) will rise in glorified bodies and see Christ face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12), and we shall be as He is! Death has no more victory and is replaced by eternal life! (1 Corinthians 15:51-57)
Death, or at least suspended animation, may seem to prevail in our current circumstances. But let us always remember that God uses times of seeming inactivity to prepare a seed to break through the soil and grow into a plant bearing much fruit ((1 Corinthians 15:35-36; John 12:24). Nine months of new life go by enshrouded in darkness as He knits together the limbs and body of each unique being (Psalm 139:13-16), made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).
We must die to sin and self (Romans 8:13) before we can be born again as God’s children (John 3:3-8). The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). Even as believers we must die daily to our fleshly desires to allow full expression of the new life, the Holy Spirit, within us (1 Corinthians 15:31). Even as we grow weary, we must not give up or lose hope, for in due season we will reap the reward of our labors (Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
In the dream, planting aster seeds alongside each plant reminds me that our ministries, and all that we do, will flourish again only if He is an integral part of it. The Old Testament law to keep crop varieties separate is no longer in effect, and many blessings may spring from working together, each with our different God-given talents and abilities (1 Corinthians 12). If we sow the seed of His Word (Matthew 3) in the hearts of those we encounter, their lives will blossom and bring forth much fruit! (John 15:5-8).
The nature of how we plant these seeds may differ now, relying more on phone, written or online communication and less on in-person encounters. But God’s Word, no matter how it is scattered, will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). If we are faithful and persevering to plant no matter what the season (Proverbs 20:4), we will reap a bountiful harvest and be rewarded by our Lord saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)
© 2020 Laurie Collett