A friend of mine shared these words with me at a church service a couple of months ago:
“God loves you when you’re bare.”
What she didn’t know was that right before I had seen a picture in my mind’s eye of a small tree that had barely grown above the ground, which I felt represented where I was in seeing some of the dreams God has placed in my heart come to pass. Only a few leaves were visible, and though they were tall, green, and strong, I was disappointed that there wasn’t much to show for it. However, God then showed me that the roots were going deeper and deeper underground. I felt Him say that it didn’t matter what was showing on the surface yet because He was pleased with the deep roots, and they would ensure that the tree grew into what it was made to be.
We sometimes feel we should be further along than we are and project our disappointment in ourselves onto God like He feels the same way, but how can He be disappointed in (what we feel is) our lack of growth when He is the One who gives the increase?
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows…whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:7-9
When you’ve been planting and watering and haven’t seen much progress, don’t be discouraged. God promises that if you’ve been sowing, YOU’RE GOING TO REAP…but HE is the One Who is going to give the increase, not you. He is the only One Who can make your tree grow!
My own personal example of this has been with recording my first album – a 4 song EP – which I’ve been in process with for over two years. It’s been a dream in my heart ever since I was a little girl, but I didn’t know that I would have to go through a painful season of hope deferred before I was able to release it. Time and time again expectations were disappointed, and it took me a long time to get my hopes up enough to even take small steps towards it. But something in me – stirred by the consistent prodding of the Holy Spirit, and the love and encouragement of my parents and best friends – just wouldn’t let me let this dream go. It was only after taking steps of faith and moving forward (planting and watering the tree God has given me), that I began to get prophetic words about my music.
One word that I kept receiving over and over from different people and in different places (who didn’t know me, and didn’t know each other) was this simple verse:
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” – Psalm 126:5
It blessed me every time, but now that I’m almost ready to release my album, God has revealed to me the gravity of it. You see, I now realize that God would not have allowed me to sow in so many tears over the past two years if He did not intend for me to reap them back with songs of joy. Every song on this EP (from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016) came out of an experience of heartbreak, disillusionment, fear, doubt, sorrow, and disappointment in which I chose to cry out to God and declare His truth over my life anyway.
I cried out to God, and He heard me. He comforted and spoke to me. He delivered me from all of my fears.
He turned my tears into songs of joy because I found that He was there all along – not causing the pain, but using it to reveal His glory in, to, and through me. This process hasn’t been what I expected, but God has shown Himself faithful to satisfy every longing in my heart, and I can truly say I am living in the most joyful and FULL season of my life thus far. I know the goodness of my God, and His Word will not return void.
I have sown in tears.
It’s time to reap with songs of joy.
You may not want to cry. You may not want to go through times of loneliness or pain. You may not want to feel a pause on things you were expecting instead of moving forward into the ‘bigger and better things’ that seem to come easily to others. However, God cares more about growing deep roots in your relationship with Him than growing what is visible on the surface. He cares more about removing shallow roots of bitterness and replacing them with deep roots of peace, love, and strong confidence in His will, kindness, and goodness.
What we see as not as productive – seasons in which we have to pause, seasons of crying out to Him in our pain, seasons in which we stop fighting for our goals and simply rest and receive from Him – He sees as our truest progress.
In fact, that was the entire point of the journey altogether. God is not impressed with our outward success if our spirit is stagnant. When we can come to the place where we stop worrying about being successful and simply keep our eyes on Him, whether that looks like doing something or doing nothing, that’s when we are able to be the most successful and fulfilled.
GOD is the One Who gives the increase, and it has always been and will always be this way.
So, when you’re doing all God has asked you to do in this season, and all you see of your tree are leaves above ground, know that if you submit to Him in the process He has you in, your roots will go down deeper than you could have ever imagined. God loves you when you’re bare because He already knew you were. He just wants you to know so He can become your fruitfulness.
All you can do is plant, water, and wait. God will make you grow.
Learn how to receive from God and release control.
Songs of joy require sowing in tears.
He will give you the increase if you will let yourself go deeper with Him.
“I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5