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In a Distant Land

In a Distant Land

The young woman entered her parent’s home for what she understood would be the final time. The funeral had been solemn but still sweet, for she knew that her father had at last joined her mother. It had been a good many years since death had parted them, but now they were together in the grave and together in heaven.

The door squeaked just a little as she opened it, but beyond it there was only silence—no familiar voice to greet her and no familiar arms to hug her. The house had already been packed up and most of her parent’s possessions already distributed. There remained just a few family treasures and meaningful knick-knacks that she wished to take as her inheritance and to keep as her own. Among them was a little chest that her father had indicated should go to her. Intrigued, she opened it and saw that it contained just one simple seed.

When she returned home she went straight to her garden and pressed the seed into the soil. She watered it diligently and ensured there was plenty of sun to warm the ground. And then she waited. She waited through the spring rains and summer’s first heat. The day came when she saw just the smallest hint of green breaking through the soil, then a shoot, and then the beginnings of a plant. Before long the seed had produced a lovely little shrub. And while it was pretty enough and brought joy to her heart, she knew the type and knew that it was capable of growing much better and taller and lusher. Yet no matter what she tried, she simply could not get it to reach its full potential.

Months turned into years and the day came when she was offered the opportunity to make a life for herself in a land far to the south. She embraced this opportunity, but could not bear to part with the plant her father had bequeathed to her. So she diligently loosened the soil around it, careful not to damage its roots. She lowered it into a pot and then ensured its safety through her long journey. When she reached her new home and got settled, she went out to her new garden and planted it in her new land.

She was amazed to see that almost immediately the shrub grew taller and wider. Almost immediately the shrub bloomed with a host of beautiful, fragrant blossoms. Almost immediately the shrub was utterly transformed. And as she stared in wonder, she understood that her plant had always been meant for the south more than the north, for her new land more than the old. In its old garden it could survive and grow, but merely to a certain degree. It was only in its new land, in its real home, that it could truly thrive, that it could display its true potential, that it could be all it was ever meant to be.

Even as we make every effort we lament how poor our efforts are and even as we bear fruit we lament how little fruit we bear.

And so it is for those of us who have had the seed of the gospel planted in our hearts. It sprouts and grows and takes root. It blossoms and produces blooms that are truly beautiful. Yet all the while we know, we understand, and we grieve how sparse and few and paltry they are. Even as we make every effort we lament how poor our efforts are and even as we bear fruit we lament how little fruit we bear. Even as we rejoice in every one of God’s blessings and celebrate every evidence of his grace, still we long to be in that new land, that new home, that new place where we can—where we will—truly thrive, where we will display our fullest potential, where we will be all that God has made us to be.

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