My friend Rodney is a gardener. According to his instructions, we planted garlic bulbs last fall and covered them with a blanket of straw. This blanket wore an additional blanket of up to 14 feet of snow through a brutal winter. I have no experience with the mysterious ‘dark, deep, doings’ beneath the snow and straw but I trusted Rodney.
This week we ventured into our Street Hope Community Garden for the first time this year. We peeled off the straw and….revealed there; three neat rows of green garlic plants. Through the rage of winter’s worst, in the dark, life sprang. Now, if we listen to the rest of Rodney’s sage counsel, we will reap a harvest that will add savour to a multitude of meals in the South End of Saint John.
Since that ‘unveiling’ I have been thinking about the dark ways of God. It is amazing that while on the surface, which is all we can see with our mortal eyes, all seems bleak and devoid of life; but beneath unseen by human eye, God is mysteriously and relentlessly at work. Such work can only be seen with the eyes of faith until the ‘unveiling’.
Late last fall we experienced a major setback at Street Hope and I was despairing that we would recover. There followed some dark days and to human eyes there was no growth, but underneath….. Yes underneath God was working mysteriously and relentlessly. With the eyes of faith we forged ahead, completing renovations and planning a Grand Opening and laying out an agenda for the ‘new thing’ God would do.
Like he did with the straw strewn garlic bed, under the surface God was at work with Street Hope. We are experiencing revitalization! More and thirstier people are finding their way to our Study and Prayer times. Our Friday Night Drop In has become a more and more spiritual occasion. Our Fellowship Breakfasts have grown slowly but surely. Attendance and discussion at our movie night Reel Hope is growing. The artwork at Discovering Hope is glorious. We are so encouraged and full of hope!
We realize that as with our garlic bed we must continue to seek and follow ‘sage counsel’ (the Word), but we have every hope that “he who has begun a good work … will bring it to completion.”
I don’t want to give the impression that everything is rosy though. We have folks who are struggling to break free of destructive patterns of living. We have friends who are struggling with real issues of health. We also face some financial challenges. As our ministry expands expenses go up. I am happy to say that we have finalized a contract for my part time position working with ex-offenders and their families but the contract is for fewer hours per week and so will bring in considerably less income. Through human eyes this appears daunting but we are exercising ‘eyes of faith’. I invite you to join us in prayer for these matters.