For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord…” – Jeremiah 29:11-13
Rebekah and I have a Good Friday tradition. We like to plant something as a testimony to new life. Sometimes we do it in honor of someone who has passed away during the year; always we do it in the spirit of resurrection.
This year we enjoyed the added bonus of playing in the dirt with our grandchildren. Naomi drove in from Richmond with David and Beks so that they could plant apple-trees with Great-Grandpapa-David.
The location was out on Larry Roper’s land, several miles east of Wake Forest. Larry has a generous heart and a very green thumb, so we put in four apple trees (including my dad’s favorites, a Bramley and a Pippin).
FAITH: It was a beautiful afternoon. We spent a couple of hours digging, fertilizing, and getting our hands dirty; the children had a great time, and my dad simply enjoyed being out in the countryside.
I thought about what happens when we plant a tree. There is a lot of faith involved. Preparing the soil, working in the right ingredients, making sure there’s a ready supply of water. Then belief. You plant in the belief that – two or three years down the road – this tree is going to produce good fruit.
It’s faith and belief rooted in the story of past experience, but then practiced in the context of what Jeremiah refers to as “a future and a hope.”
Hope like this hasn’t anything to do with wishful thinking; this is hope affirmed in our history as God’s people, in our families, in God’s good word, in our day-to-day experience, and in this ongoing relationship with have with the Living God!
I’m talking about the fruit trees, about our faith community, about today, about tomorrow, and about this coming season of our life. Good Friday always gives me pause, because it reminds me of what is at stake when we talk about faith, and promise, and hope, and the opportunity for a restored relationship with our Creator.
This is big stuff! Huge. If you are someone who sees showing up at church on Easter Sunday simply as a feel-good experience that keeps you vaguely in touch with the Christian traditions you were raised with… then for goodness sake, broaden your horizons!
This weekend lays it all out with the kind of clarity we need to engage with our eyes wide open! The good news of Jesus is good news for every single day, and every possible aspect of what it means to be alive!
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…”
In love, and because of love – DEREK
(more pics from Good Friday planting!)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.