Making Preparations

By Marcy Barthelette

Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. Proverbs 24:27 

It’s that time of year once more. We’ve experienced our first freeze of the fall bringing to an end a very difficult growing season, though I think the summer’s drought did a pretty good job of that on its own. The winds of this past weekend brought clouds of leaves tumbling to the ground, along with limbs and outdoor furnishings, and Halloween decorations. And I, being the gardener that I am, have been trying to keep perennials alive throughout the summer but now am putting them to bed for a long winter’s nap.

We recently decided it was time to remove a large island landscape bed from our backyard. This season’s gardening convinced me that I had too much-landscaped area to manage efficiently. So, after friends and neighbors dug what they wanted and I transplanted some favorites to new homes elsewhere in the yard, Ken began the arduous chore of digging the remaining plants, no easy feat in hard-packed dry soil and more tree roots than could be imagined. Those tree roots were another reason for disposing of the bed. They severely limited our ability to cultivate the bed, amend the soil or add new plants. Each area had to be heavily watered just to get a spade in the ground making for some heavy labor but Ken has currently managed to extricate all but a small portion. Meanwhile, I’ve been kept busy watering the transplants and removing dead debris from other beds in the yard, and moving potted annuals indoors to prevent freezing. I like to hang on to them as long as possible.

All these preparations have short-term and long-term value. In the short term, we are preparing our yard for the fast-approaching winter weather, but the long-term goal is to provide an environment for our plants to live happy lives for many years. And we’re not the only ones making preparations. Our squirrel population is keeping me busy repairing messes they continually make any place where we have disturbed the dirt. They love to bury acorns in those areas that are easier to dig so my beds and pots are a consistent choice for their winter stashes. We have both a pin oak and a bur oak tree in our yard and they are producing pretty heavily when you consider the drought we still experience. And even though we may have gotten rain by the time you read this, the drought will still be with us. It will take many inches of falling water to make up the deficit.

At any rate, I’ve already found both tiny (pin oak) and huge (bur oak) acorns buried in my pots and beds and when spring rolls around, tender sprouts will spring forth wherever the squirrels have forgotten a particular stash and I have not discovered the treats they buried. As you can see, our little corner of the world is a busy place right now. Everyone is making preparations and soon we’ll rest.

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44

I wonder what our world would be like if we all applied the same level of purpose to our personal faith walks as the squirrel exhibits in burying nourishment for the coming winter. How much more love could we show to those around us? How much more light could we shine in all our dark corners? How much more beauty would we then see in all of God’s miraculous creations? Our lives are a series of seasons and the preparations we make in each of those seasons strengthen us for the winter we will all one day experience. Will we be ready when that day comes? Will we have stored away enough “acorns” in our personal faith stash to prepare us for eternity? Our eternity doesn’t depend on good works. It has already been secured on the cross. But that doesn’t mean that we should overlook gracious works that honor Him. As our opening scripture says, our life plan is to accept the will of God in our lives, to prepare our field through study and prayer, and then build a house in which we all care for each other. What preparation can you make today that will make you better able to be ready when an opportunity to share your love of Jesus presents itself…. in order that the house may grow?

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. I Peter 3:15

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