Yuck! I certainly never expected this. They looked half-dead already. My sister, the one who had inherited my dad’s green thumb, the one who had carefully planted them in my garden out of the goodness of her heart, solemnly noted the unusual dark patches on the leaves and declared these pansies were diseased. What used to be the only bulletproof plant my black thumb could never kill were sadly on their way out. Really galling since everyone else’s pansies were showing off their vibrant colors and good health all around town.
Not these. PITIFUL. Dang PIT-I-FUL pansies. They mocked me every time I walked up our sidewalk. The only thing left to do was cut my losses and yank them out. That would be better than the sense of failure that I had every time I saw them. A harsh reminder that for the first time in my pansy planting history, my good plan had failed; I had wasted my sister’s time, my money and was now witnessing their inevitable slow death.
Pansy-pulling plans were discussed.
“No,” green-thumbed sister countered, “just give ’em a fightin’ chance.”
I had my doubts. But with that encouragement, I left them alone. Many weeks of ugliness passed; not exactly the first impression you want others to have when they come to visit your lovely new home, right?
I had absolutely no hope that giving them “a fighting chance” meant anything more than wishful thinking.
I was wrong. One day a single tiny bloom peeked through. Frankly, the rest of the plant and it’s pansy partners still looked diseased — so one bloom was nothing to get excited about. But even I, Worst Case Kathy, couldn’t deny a glimmer of hope had crept into the corner of my mind — maybe something good was taking place — undetectable to my eye — hidden under the surface.
There had been absolutely no evidence of anything remotely resembling life — until there was. As I write this today, my garden is filled with bright healthy visible reminders that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” — and don’t give up — on anything or anyone.
God is using this pansy story as a personal parable. He’s applying it to the frustration I wrestle with over Major Prayers still in the unanswered column. Things I pray for year after year begin with great hope, but then I compare my Major Answered Prayers list to those of others, and mine doesn’t look so good.
Is anything good happening? Is God doing a work still unseen, below the surface?
If it is, I have absolutely no indication. But the pansies remind me that I need to hang in there and not give up. I now ask God to use everything — and anything — to do His unexpected work in every dark and hidden place that my prayers cover. I ask Him to transform what currently looks dormant, diseased or possibly on death’s door into a revived, restored and resurrected thing of beauty that I will one day see.
This is not wishful thinking.
After all, He’s the author of creative solutions and redemptive rescues. When Plan A, Plan B and Plan C are thwarted, He puts Plan G into effect. God’s plan. More innovative, complicated, something that only the God who put the stars in place can do.
No doubt He is actually already doing it — still invisible to me — but I know that one day what He did in secret will be revealed. He’s gonna do whatever it takes whether that mean trials or blessings, the people of God, the word of God — whatever is needed to “give ‘em a fighting chance.”
All I need is a sanctified imagination to see the possibilities, keep praying and wait.
I don’t even need to work out carefully crafted plans of my own to “help” God do his job. When we work, we work. When we pray God works.
And like the unexpected turn around in my own personal pansy parable, His work cannot always be seen — until it is.