One Thursday evening this past February, I gathered up a can of tomato paste, old newspaper, dry coconut husk, sewing scissors, and a grocery bag of bright-colored envelopes. Squatting on the ground, I wrapped the can of tomato paste with a long strip of newspaper, around and around, into a makeshift pot, which I filled with the moistened coconut husk. I opened one of the envelopes and pressed a tiny seed into the pot. I repeated the ritual until the soil had run out and the newspaper was gone. In the following weeks, I watered the pots, moved them around, hauled straw bales to my backyard, conditioned the bales and on and on through a never-ending list of garden chores.

At one point, I had too many seedlings for my own yard, so I called my mother to offer her some of my plants. “Why would I grow those when I can just buy vegetables from the grocery store?” she asked me, laughing. She was, of course, partially joking, yet behind her statement was the fact that my gardening results have been mixed. I’ve tried for years to grow certain plants with nothing but dirt and heartbreak to show for my efforts. Some of the most inedible vegetables my family has ever attempted to eat I’ve harvested from my garden. To top it all off, I am growing in a region with summer temperatures regularly soaring over 100oF and little natural rainfall.

He knew that dreams are worth pursuing and people are worth loving

So, why keep going with no evidence that this year’s crop will be any more fruitful than the year’s before? 

I don’t have a great answer. Yet I find some miracle in the gardener who stubbornly cares for their small plot of earth, year after year, and in the friend who calls and comes, again and again, even after the conversation dies off and the tea has grown cold. 

I have a hunch that we keep going because we were created by a God who both risked and endured failure and rejection, not because He knew everything would work out in the end, but because He knew that dreams are worth pursuing and people are worth loving, even if all we are left with is dirt and heartbreak. 

We pray for faithfulness, not success, knowing and believing there is a harvest and a tree and a river and a family and a home waiting for us on the other side. This “wilderness” world of ours will be “like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3).