If I told you that God spoke to me through my lime tree, you would probably think I am a little crazy. But He did...and maybe I am!
Late last Autumn, we transplanted our citrus trees. They had been in a garden bed, but were really too big for it. A short time later, though, we had some unseasonably warm, dry weather with a strong north wind (hot here in the southern hemisphere). The poor lime tree took a battering, almost blown out of the ground. The leaves took on a permanent curl southward and over the months of winter, cold and damp as they were, the leaves began to drop off.
Now, call me strange and weird ('cos, I reckon it is,too!), but I prayed for my lime. I didn't want to lose it.
Besides, it had worked before. Previously, my kaffir lime had been in a pot. One summer when we'd been away for a couple of weeks, the one at home to take care of things failed to water it.
When I got home, it had all the appearances of being dead. Dry, brown leaves were curled on the stems or lay on the ground around. I prayed for that tree as well: I watered it, spoke life into it and waited, and did it all again, with a lot of the waiting...And...it came good! (You might think that it was the watering that helped, and you might be right, but I also believe that God is the Life Force, so I give Him credit anyway.)
So, with that success in mind, I prayed for my Tahitian lime. And watered it. And spoke life into it. And waited. And waited the whole of winter, and then through spring. And it got worse. The leaves started to drop off. There were one or two leaves still green and looking ok, which gave me hope, but not much else...
...Until one day in spring, when nearly all the leaves had fallen off, I went to examine my tree again and I saw some bumps that looked like they could be new growth. But still I wasn't sure. So I waited some more. Then there were some pretty definite looking buds. Over some more time, they became definite beginnings of flowers. Still I wasn't sure, because some things flower just before they die - well I think I read that somewhere anyway.
However, over time, more bumps appeared and this time they turned into teensy tiny leaves, first in the places that had kept one or two leaves, and then gradually all over. Now it is starting to look really promising. It is literally covered with new leaves and many flowers popping out. If it continues this way, we should have a bumper crop of limes this year.
So what does this have to do with God speaking to me from my lime tree?
Well, this morning as I was enjoying the sunshine, I looked at the lime again, feeling the hope of all that burgeoning new life rub off onto the rest of my life. As I did, I felt God talking to me. Not in an audible voice, no. But straight into my heart. In that way that something shifts, something tangible seems to happen.
I felt Him encouraging me that sometimes when we pray, things don't immediately get better. Sometimes when we pray, we feel like things are only getting worse.
The situation looks as dead as my lime did.
This has definitely been my experience over a number of issues this year.
However, I felt that the lime tree was a promise to me, like a precursor. I felt God was saying that even in those places that look dead, or look like they just won’t improve (or may be can't get worse!), He is going to bring new life; that just when we think it is over, time to give up, He is going to suddenly show up and bring life where only death seemed to abound.
Like with Lazarus when all hope was gone: “he's been in the grave four days”; “he'll stink”! “Yep, but this is to show the glory of God”, says Jesus.
The words "unless a seed falls into the ground…" keep resonating in my mind. And how does that end? Well, the seed dies, but something new arises with maybe tenfold, maybe one hundredfold fruit returned.
Anyone for limes?
(And thanks to my lovely daughter for the great photo she took for me!)