The Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with [the] paschal mystery.– Gaudium et Spes 22
There are things going on beneath the surface. This is never easy for me to believe.
The garlic has sprouted, scapes puncturing the soil, little bulbs of pungent goodness swelling unseen. But earlier in the dark of winter, when I separated the cloves and laid them into a long trench, I doubted. This year, the garlic won’t grow. This time will be different.
But there they are, up-and-at-em, rising into the sun.
I get like this with people too. There are so many reasons to lose heart. People stumble into poor choices. They break trusts and crumple relationships. They’re up to their ears in addiction–porn, meth, success.
It’s not that I’m any better. Believe me, God’s patience is my lived reality. But there are too many stories that I’m still waiting to see resolve in redemption.
Jesus told a story about a fig tree that didn’t give fruit (Luke 13:1-9). The owner said, “Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” But the gardener said, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”I like to think of Jesus as that gardener. He sees something worth cultivating in us, something worth waiting for, something going on beneath the surface. Don’t cut it down yet! Give it a chance! He believes the best about us, even when that belief is plainly counter-factual–the tree hasn’t produced fruit for 3 years. Even then, he hopes.
This is the funny thing about hope. Hope means believing what sometimes seems unbelievable, that God is alive in people’s lives, tenderly caring for them and leading them. Hope means praying that they might live and grow and produce fruit. Here’s where hope and grace kiss. As the band Rend Collective puts in in their song “Second Chances“
Fragments of brokenness / Salvaged by the art of grace / You craft life from our mistakes
Hope means believing that God is crafting life from our mistakes. Something is going on beneath the surface–something known only to God.