When we first moved into our house six years ago, I was 800 months pregnant with the last of four children. We had decided to do a complete renovation before we moved in (because we’re crazy), so add in the stress of sawdust and drywall and tile done wrong. It had already been a rough year of deciding to move across state lines to schools that could accommodate our special needs child. We were committed city folk who said we would never move to the suburbs, so we apparently love eating our words. Isn’t it funny how God continually shakes our identity so that we can only find it in Him?
But while grieving the loss of all these things and the changes they would bring, there was something I felt silly about mourning: the peony bush on the side of our old house that we’d be leaving behind.
It should be noted that I had inherited them; it’s not like I planted them myself. But they brought me so much joy. They felt like an undeserved surprise, and I just didn’t want to leave them. If you know anything about peonies, they are gorgeous. They smell insanely delicious, and they are incredibly hard to grow from seed or bulb. They take years and years to bloom. They are finicky to transplant, and you can risk losing the whole thing. So I left them for the next person and told myself, Don’t complain. You have a great life. It’s just flowers!
We moved in late summer, quickly got settled, and had our precious baby — what a blur! Through summer, autumn, and winter, I became more and more comfortable in our new home and the neighborhood. As spring approached and we finally got to be outside again, I noticed some bushes against the back of the house and wondered what they would be (or were they overgrown weeds?). I hadn’t really noticed them sprouting up at all, what with my blurry eyes from a baby who never really slept great and spit up and down the back of my shirt and from the endless monotony that comes with telling three other children to “please wear pants.”
But then, all of the sudden, there was a miraculous sighting. I gasped seeing six, huge peony bushes blooming! You better believe I watered those plants with my happy tears that minute. It was something God didn’t have to do — the binding up of the littlest wounds. Please file all these little extras under “Things I Don’t Deserve”: more inherited peony bushes which I never would have had the skill or patience to plant yet and the fact that they’ve been at every house we’ve moved to. It makes me believe God is after our joy more than we think, even after so many tired seasons, even after so much grief, even after so much waiting.
Peonies give me a visual opportunity to remember God’s mercy and goodness when I’d like to believe I don’t deserve them. The gospel makes it clear that I’ve done nothing to inherit His riches, but here I am. And that day, I saw it in the abundance of peonies blooming behind our house.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
I wish I wasn’t so human, but I alternate between entitlement and awe. And this is why I think God keeps specifically giving me tangible ways to understand His undeserved goodness: little bread crumbs along the way to help me find my way back home when I go off track and believe He’s forgotten me.
A late spring frost is set to come through our way, so I cover up my peonies to protect them. As I do, I remember that I am owed nothing. I deserve nothing but have gained an incredible abundance in His kinship — so much so, I’ve been put in the will and have an inheritance in Christ! I spread out the sheets, feeling like I have to relinquish my blessings, but I remember it wasn’t me who put them here in the first place. I think it’s in the moments of receiving and giving up that we find Jesus the most — perhaps because He gave us the most by giving up the most. I cover the flowers as I cover myself in truth: His grace is sufficient to meet us in our waiting, relinquishing, and worries, and His abundance will never end.Leave a Comment