As I stood at the edge of a gray, barren corner of the acreage where I grew up, a cold drizzle started down on Rose Mary and me. There had to be a better day of the year to be outside–my then-ten-year-old imagination could think of a lot I’d rather do on that February morning. But my grandmother had big plans, and I wasn’t getting out of them anytime soon.
If I’m honest with myself, February has never been my favorite month of the year. Even now, with a birthday and an anniversary tucked in the middle of it, the shortest month is one of the drearier places on the calendar. Far enough away from Christmas that winter drags. Short days, often cold. Longing for warmth and sunshine. So, when it came to doing garden chores as a child, I was less than motivated. There was not much about a frigid, wet, colorless day that inspired me to work the earth.
But what inspired my grandmother?
What Rose Mary had (that her junior field hand did not) was vision. In that moment, she saw the potential of that dead, overgrown garden plot. She could envision the summer and fall gatherings with our big family as we shared in the bounty from her garden: fresh-picked tomatoes, corn, okra, squash, beans, asparagus, potatoes, figs, watermelon, and close fellowship that all the February work made possible. Maybe she even pictured future me, going to work every day because I had learned to show up, no matter what the weather was like.
Someone else had vision for me when I did not. The Bible says Jesus left the comfort of Heaven to face the cold, barren reality of my sin. In Hebrews 12:2NLT, the writer explains that Jesus went to the cross “because of the joy awaiting Him.” He didn’t just see you and me dead in our trespasses, but He saw us spiritually alive, clothed in His righteousness. He saw beyond our sin, saw the future us, new creations in Christ. He saw beyond His own status, rights, and comfort and modeled what it looks like to delay gratification to reach a future goal that no one else can see. As Stephen Covey would say, He “began with the end in mind.”
So what February are you facing? What garden has God put you in, and what vision have you been given that no one else might see? Maybe the cold, hard work needs to happen right now–the clearing, uprooting, drawing the lines, enriching the soil. In Hebrews 12:11NLT, the writer goes on to say that “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterword there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Jesus showed up when the field wasn’t producing anything good, and He spent “February” investing in the future. He’s inviting you and me to join in the work of that field, so we can all sit together one day, enjoying the harvest with Him.