By Katie Dobbins
Being quarantined on a lot of acreage in rural NH for the past 4 months has taught me a lot. Did you know that a single oak tree produces about 10,000 acorns each year? Everything in nature seems determined to propagate itself. If you don’t control it, it will control you! I’ve joined the “serve team” here at my parents’ house, and we serve full time just maintaining the property. Did I mention the wild animals whose sole purpose seems to be destroying everything in sight? I planted 28 sunflower seeds this spring, and only 5 have survived the trials of various rodents and insects. Between the lawns, fields, and gardens we would be overwhelmed by it all if we didn’t find the right balance of control and letting go. God’s creation is wild. We steward it, but we don’t really own or control any of it. We merely plant the seeds; “only God makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). We work hard to steward the blessings God has given us, but at the end of the day God is in control. If you need a reminder of this, try making a sunflower seed grow. After two months of singing to mine daily, they still aren’t close to blooming. I have to be patient and let God do the growing.
Observing the change of seasons reminds me that God is in control, and His timing is perfect. Through each season, nature blooms perfectly on time while continuing preparations for the next season. Tulips get planted in the fall, so they can bloom in the Spring. Sunflowers get planted in the spring, so they can bloom in late summer. Some flowers get pruned in late summer so they can bloom again in the fall. Always something blooming. Always something preparing for what’s to come.
It’s easy to look at a beautiful view and be filled with a sense of wonder and awe of Creator God. It’s easy to gaze at a star-filled sky and remember how small and insignificant I am. If I can wrap my head around God controlling the universe, why is it so hard to accept His providence in my life? If nature proves time and again that His timing is perfect, that He provides for all living things, why do I continually question His timing in my life? That’s what this season is teaching me: to trust God more each day. I’d like to share a few ways God has asked me to trust His timing during this quarantine. It hasn’t all been sitting around watching plants grow!
After months of being unable to visit my Nana in her nursing home due to Covid-19, we received news that she was nearing the end of her life. With a large family and a myriad of challenges due to the pandemic, our desire to bring her home and surround her with family seemed near impossible. We didn’t even have an adequate place in our home to care for her. We were frustrated. Why now, in the middle of this pandemic? There were so many risks that were infuriating to have to consider when our loved one’s life was uncertain. One night my dad said to me, “I think taking Nana home is the opportunity I’ve been praying for. I don’t want to reject the opportunity just because I don’t like its form.” The God of perfect timing had given us an opportunity to see Nana again. He had protected her for months and had brought me home from teaching to help with preparations and be with my family. He gave us strength and perseverance as we worked tirelessly for the next week to create space in our home for her and make medical preparations. We were given three days with her at home before she returned to Heaven, surrounded by love and family. It was a heartbreaking loss, but God’s grace, timing, and strength made it possible for us all to all be together. We worked to steward the opportunity, and trusted God to make it happen by His mighty hand. “What matters is faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).
Losing a loved one can cause you to reflect on what’s most important in your life.
Nana’s pride and joy was her family. It got me thinking about my own someday family. I’m still single, and quarantine isn’t helping me much. Honestly, this kind of thing doesn’t usually get to me. But given the current state of our world, I started to freak out. How will I find my husband, sitting on my parents’ porch for the rest of my life? Dramatic, I know. It sounds silly, but my thoughts took me down a rabbit hole of paralyzing worst case scenarios. In His gentle way, God reminded me again that I am not in control; He is. All I can do is steward my blessings and bring my concerns to Him; “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He led me to green pastures, literally, and I am embracing all that this season has to offer. Rather than give into my anxieties, I trust that as I focus on Jesus and His word, He will bless me in this season and prepare me for the next. “Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). He is renewing my heart and soul, as I wait on His timing.
Finally, God asked me to take a leap of faith. He told me to let go of the apartment I have been clinging onto for seven years. With so much uncertainty in my life, this feels like the worst possible time to not have a secured place to live. Looking back, I’ve felt it was time to move on before but was too uncomfortable to step out without having a plan lined up. But God’s timing is perfect, and I’m choosing to trust in my provider. I may not know what’s next for me, but He does. Letting go makes me available to receive whatever He has for me. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God is in control of nature, and He does a darn good job. If I submit to His providential hand in my own life, I have confidence that He will do a great job with that too. “If God cares so wonderfully for the wildflower that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you” (Matthew 6:30).
Where is God asking you to let go of some control this season? Is there an area of your life where you can rely a little less on yourself, and a lot more on God? I’m sure my answer to this question will always be yes, and I’m sure He will continue to blow my mind as I continue to lean more closely on Him.