When I was a little girl, my family camped near the California sequoias. I remember staring up to the sky beyond the giants, marveling together at the expansive height of those beauties. We spent our days hiking around the forest, climbing over giant fallen trees. At night, we huddled around a fire roasting marshmallows.
I admit that at the time, I was probably more excited about the marshmallows than the trees. However, you should know that I really, really, really love marshmallows.
Thirty-ish years later, I am sheltered at home and living this #quarantinelife. I find I am less nostalgic for the smores of my youth and more interested in the places I no longer can visit on a whim. I looked up the sequoias online today. Seeing those trees virtually is a little underwhelming when I compare it to the awestruck wonder of seeing them IRL.
The awestruck wonder of nature is something I miss in 2020. It’s impossible to conjure up wonder and awe. Seeing the expansiveness of this world expands our awareness of the expansiveness of our own souls and lives; while being hidden away like this is laced with fears of losing our security and or significance.
And yet, Jesus once said something about trees that is helpful for us, as we sit planted on our sofas with days full of endless smallness laid out before us:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” —Matthew 13:31-32
Everything seems so small about our lives these days; there is not enough provision of so many things.
There are not enough hospital and frontline workers.
My house is at capacity; there is not enough internet for all of us; we do not ever have enough snacks.
There are not enough grocery store curbside pickup slots, and too many of their shelves are empty.
There is too much news, too much conflicting data, and not enough clarity about all of it.
Millions of us need more jobs to rain down like manna from heaven.
But like that proverbial mustard seed Jesus told us about, all the provision we need is hidden in the tiny seed of these strangely small days we are living.
Greater security and significance are the direct result of greater faith in the God who has portioned out His abundant love for us in these, the smallest days of our lives.
Are we brave enough to ask God to enlarge us by emptying out the unnecessary stockpiles of our own strength and comforts and achievements we have held onto for so long?
Perhaps, if we look closely, among the unnecessary soul tchotchkes we were saving for a rainy day, we will see a bag with one tiny seed in it. The bag is labeled with these words: “What we need most of all.” Now that our souls are clear of the clutter, we can plant that seed and water it with worship, prayer, and the Word of God every day as we wait for it to grow into a giant tree that will dwarf the sequoias of my childhood.
OhmygoshCarrie, are you saying we should read our Bibles and pray and spend time listening to God and practicing contemplative practices and meditation every day?
Yes, I am. I’m saying that what we fill our souls with will determine what grows there.
The good news is, we have the time to do this now because our calendars are clear.
We have the courage to do this now because life feels fragile and we know that we have so little control over what tomorrow will hold.
And maybe, we have no choice but to plant and water this seed because our options have been pruned so violently that it has come to this:
We must live by faith or we will lose all hope that we will live at all.
In some ways, the majesty of the sequoias was wasted on me when I was young. I hadn’t had enough years to ponder how small most trees were and to subsequently be amazed by how grand those were. I was too immature to grasp how ancient the sequoias were and to marvel at how they had been growing for thousands of years, without humans aware that they even existed.
But here in my home today, I like the idea that I can grow as I’m hidden away in the smallness of seeking God’s presence. caring for my family, “going” to church while sitting in my own bedroom, grocery “shopping” on my laptop, and writing books that may or may not ever be published. Thousands of years from now, my days and labor and sacrifice will be forgotten, but Jesus has promised that the Kingdom of God will have grown because I planted these days in my soul and planted myself in Him.
After all these years of pursuing bigger and better of everything in life, we are now planted in a foreign, upside-down space where we must wait for God to bring awe and wonder back to us.
But at least we can still make oven smores.
BTW, I still really, really, really love marshmallows.