Grace in the Growing
by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm
Flowers must be fashioned from forever.
I am a writer, not a gardener, preferring to cultivate sentences rather than seedlings. So I still cannot understand what compelled me to visit a gardening shop this spring and return with an armful of tiny plants. Perhaps it was the nagging need to see something, anything, thrive in a season of life that had been grittier than granite. Regardless, I sank my seedlings in soil and trusted them to time.
But it wasn’t long before I began to see the lesson lettered on their leaves—the sacrament of slow. It was miraculous, to watch the sprouts gently lengthen, the softly swelling buds open like a kiss, the flowers unfold with pure perfection—all following the tranquil timetable of nature. After millennia of making, God still fashions each flower as if He has all eternity to do it—which He does. These are only common garden flowers, brief blooms who won’t last past the summer swing. Yet He takes His time, painting petals. Unworried, unhurried, His hands caress as He creates.
I watched and I wondered and I wished that I too could let myself grow slow.
This year has not been easy. There have been drab days when the sun slipped silent and nights too dark to see the stars. The story has featured dreams drawn dry and chapters I never chose. And through it all, I’ve wanted to fast-forward, to wave a wand and skip over the scars and cut to the close, where all was well and flowers fluttered full-bloom.
You see, God’s been growing me, and for me, growing walks hand-in-hand with groaning.
I used to believe that the call of God would immediately catapult me into the humming heart of action. No delays, no disappointments, certainly no disasters. My work would be recognized, my heart would be whole, and my wildest dreams would be realized—immediately. Instead, I am continually readjusting my timetable as God guides me relentlessly past most of my milestones.
I also believed that growing would be gracious—delightful dance, not painful pull. Is it true what I’ve heard—that the root word of patience means “to suffer”? And all my fragile flesh shrinks from the scalpel of suffering—the eyes straining to see the hope on the horizon, the legs heavy from marching through monotony.
A few years removed from my nascent naivety, I wonder why I never thought to ask why Christ was called the Suffering Servant, or how I could escape that title if I longed—as indeed I did and still do—to follow Him.
Growing is not glamorous. Life is a good deal sharper than I had envisioned. Most weeks, I wrestle weary. Yet through all my complaints and confusion and contumely, the Master Gardener is still fashioning me.
And perhaps here is where the grace enters the growth. Perhaps I should pray not for cloudless skies, but for the warmth of nurturing rains. Perhaps I should try not to thrust myself forward but to dig myself deep into the fertile soil of His Presence. Perhaps I should concentrate not on how leafy and lush the other plants are but simply on how I can continue to stretch toward His sky.
In a world of waiting, only humans demand that things spring into being overnight. And only stubborn self whines to skip this season. Lord of all life, forgive this feeble flower. Keep growing me in the space where my pain and Your purpose intersect—with the quiet patience that shines in the eyes of all eternity.
A passionate follower of Jesus Christ, Ashlyn McKayla Ohm finds her writing calling where her heart for God and her love for His creation intersect. Born and raised in rural Arkansas on the shoulders of the Ouachita Mountains, she’s most at home where the streetlights die and the pavement ends. She finds joy in weaving words into messages of hope and healing and is forever grateful that God has given her the gift of not only exploring His beautiful world but also using her words to prayerfully draw others to Him. Follow her adventures at www.wordsfromthewilderness.com or on Instagram and Facebook.