Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Let me tell you about my strawberry plants.
Next to our detached garage a bed of strawberries resides. White flowers pop out among the leaves and green strawberries hang heavy from the plants. If you look closely, peeking behind growing leaves, you’ll see shades of red covering a few strawberries. I keep telling our kids that with a little more sun and warmth we’ll have a bed full of red, ripe strawberries.
Every morning we walk to the strawberries to note their progress. The berries themselves are getting bigger, more flowers are blooming, and more and more red can be found. There are too many strawberries to count. We have a running list of all the things we want to do with the strawberries: eat them fresh from the garden, make strawberry shortcake, bake them in muffins, drizzle them on ice cream, and our list goes on and on.
It’s only mid-May and we can just about taste the juiciness of the strawberries.
Yet, I’d be remiss to share that it’s been years since we’ve had a full bed of strawberries to anticipate.
We first planted strawberries years ago in our front yard. We knew the first year would be a growing year but anticipated a bounty in the years to come. That is until we had to replant our plants due to a new garage being built. So we carefully moved the strawberries and left them in a heaping pile of dirt for another year. Not until the garage was finally built and another planting season arrived did we finally move our strawberries and transplant them next to the garage. Fast forward a few years and here we are finally seeing the literal fruits of years of waiting and care.
The years leading up to today found us caring for the strawberry plants by covering them in the winter, making sure they had sunlight and water, and keeping any pests away. For a few summers we’d get a strawberry here and there but not the volume we’re seeing today.
We planted, we watered, we waited, and we hoped.
It seems like I could learn a few lessons from my strawberry plants.
Many of us are currently in a season of waiting – waiting for it to be safe to gather in groups, waiting for restaurants and stores to open, waiting to see our loved ones, waiting to hug our friends and family, waiting to get healthy. Even without a global pandemic, we may be waiting for a new job, waiting to work on a relationship, or waiting for a health diagnosis. None of our waiting is done passively, but rather with a spirit of hope for what is to come. While we wait we continue to plant and nurture, caring for ourselves and for our neighbors. We pray, we read scripture, we sit in the stillness of God’s presence.
We wait trusting that God waits with us in our longings, questions, doubts, and fears. We wait holding close to God’s truth that we are not alone. We wait offering our prayers for what is to come delighting in God’s provision right now.
The other day we picked the first red, ripe strawberry and divided it among ourselves, a small bite each. The juice dripped down our fingers. In that bite I tasted the goodness that comes from years of waiting and hope-filled trust that God’s goodness is better than anything I can imagine.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website, follow her work on Facebook, or sign up for her monthly newsletter.