In our yard out by the street there are a couple of buckeye trees. I did some research online and found some interesting things from a gardening website. First and most important, the nuts of the buckeye are poisonous – don’t eat them. I discovered that the only buckeye native to California is Aesculus californica, or California buckeye, and its growth patterns are a little different. “Aesculus californica is summer deciduous, sometimes defoliating in early July, and it is the first tree leafing out each year. It grows during the wet winter and spring months when its neighbors are dormant, and enters dormancy in mid to late summer.” What that means is that if I don’t prune the buckeye trees in January, it’s really too late and the tree will be budding new growth in February.
It seems a little weird to me to think about a tree budding and growing so early in the year when it is still cold, but that’s what those buckeye trees do.
As I wrote this newsletter article I was thinking about how hard it can be sometimes to grow in our relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our family has seen its share of ups and downs the last couple of years, and if you are like us, sometimes getting out of bed in the morning can seem like a very big challenge! So how do we grow? How will the Spirit bear fruit in our lives no matter what time of year it is or what circumstances we may be facing?
Thank goodness we have an excellent Gardener, our Savior Jesus! When Jesus connects to us in worship, He gives us life. Think about what is happening when you hear the words of forgiveness after the confession of sins – you are being cleansed and renewed! When you hear the Gospel in the sermon and are reminded of what Jesus has done for you, you are being given life and growth. And when you go to the Lord’s Supper, you are given the nourishment you need for the spiritual growth we so desperately need.
This also happens when God cultivates us in his Word in our devotional lives and in Bible study with other believers. We aren’t just reading words on a page and hoping to educate ourselves when we open our Bibles. God is actually speaking to us, and Jesus says in John 6:63, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” Jesus gives us life through his Word!
So as you journey through this winter, come to worship to be connected to Jesus, and open your Bible and be cultivated in his Word. Then, no matter what season of life you are in, He will provide the growth.