My husband has a singular talent for creating beauty. Some time ago we moved onto our church’s property with the understanding we would care for it, and improve it. It is a large property with several buildings, which was once a church/school complex –  sadly neglected until our present pastor determined to restore it.

The small stone church is the centerpiece of the property, of course. And next door to that is the little frame house that we live in. Natively, it is a Plain-Jane. White siding. Single story. Concrete porch. Elements that are all non-negotiable. Weedy lawn. No flowers or garden. Unkempt. Things that can be changed.

So John got busy. He washed the exterior. Added shutters. Faced the concrete porch with stone. Did away with the concrete steps and path altogether and re-built them in stone.  Added trees, gardens. Now, when people come to visit – and we have a lot of visitors – we get more compliments on this little home than we ever did on our large ones.

I have traditionally not been interested in the exterior of our homes. John has taken care of that one hundred percent. But I have been cheering for him in this situation, interested in seeing how he will work his magic. So I have paid more attention than in the past.

And I have actually been involved to a limited extent. I water the flowers and do some weeding!

I have become fascinated with a jasmine vine that John planted to wind around one of the wrought-iron pillars on the porch. It has become a (beautiful) monster – threatening to take over the world in just two short years.

Then a few weeks ago, once he had finished the porch and was able to do so, John planted two others at the base of the remaining pillars. These have done – nothing.

“John, why are these just sitting there? Why won’t they grow?

“Dearest wife, they have to root.”


(Duh, as the kids would say)

In any case, it immediately brought to mind words of Spurgeon I had recently heard on an audio sermon…

”God helps us to grow downward when we are thinking of growing upward.”

Exactly. A plant that outgrows its roots will not be a healthy one if it survives at all. But when it is well-rooted, there is no stopping it.

And that makes sense of that Christian conundrum we are all so familiar with, doesn’t it? At least to some extent. We pray for sanctification and things in our life immediately get worse.

It can be frightening and discouraging.

But what better than adversity to cause us to run to Scripture with renewed vigor? To call out to the Lord from the bottom of our heart? To ponder and meditate? To seek godly wisdom from others?

Really, not much.

And as we do so we are becoming more and more rooted in His thinking, His love, His ways.

Ready for the growth we prayed for.