Have you gardening enthusiasts ever had a plant that you gave up on because it wasn’t thriving and didn’t look like it had much of a chance? My plant was a cauliflower.
It was back in 1991. We lived in a house in Southeast Denver, an older neighborhood of 1950’s cookie-cutter homes that had nice big yards for playing kids, barbeques, and gardens. We had a huge vegetable garden in the back with an herb garden, strawberry bed, dwarf cherry tree, and raspberry bushes. In the side yard, I had a cutting garden where I had planted several varieties of annual and perennial flowers for the birds, butterflies, and me! I loved digging in the dirt and seeing what I could grow in the arid Colorado climate that is so different from Iowa, where I grew up.
This particular year I had decided to try growing celery and cauliflower. The celery took too much room in the garden as each plant needed a “mound” to be upright so the stalks could develop safely from the sun and elements. So I needed to find a place for the cauliflower, which also required ample space. I found the perfect space in the cutting garden behind the lilac bush, and I made sure the lighting fit the requirements and gave them plenty of food and water. I babied those plants until mid-summer when I realized I had miscalculated my time for planting because they were not holding up under the summer heat. They were “cool” weather plants….duh. I let them go; no more water or food for them while I concentrated on nurturing the celery.
Skip ahead two months to September. It had been a little cool but nothing too uncomfortable. Most of the garden was spent, having been harvested already. One particular day, it was rainy, and I was feeling melancholy. I had been sober almost a year, and that said, recovery is not easy. Seeing one’s self and life with a clear head and humbling evaluation could depress anyone. I hadn’t yet obtained the gift of gratitude, so sadly, I was wallowing.
My cutting garden was visible from the kitchen window, and I stood there in tears for quite a while, just watching the rainfall and the birds eating at the bird feeder. After a while, the rain turned to sleet and then snow, and not a light one either. It was coming down heavily and was quickly covering everything in a white blanket. As I stood there watching, I told God, “I want to die, but I’m too scared, it’s up to you….would you please just send down a big bolt of lightning and take me out?”. (My dramatic flair is at its best when I’m sad. What can I say!?!)
I gazed out the window at the birds. They flew about, to the feeder, up to the bush, down to the ground, hopping in the snow. There were bird scratches all over the…wait a minute. What……no. I tore out the front door and around the house to the cutting garden and behind the lilac bush, covered in snow with just a small patch visible, was the biggest, most beautiful, white cauliflower I had ever seen!
How could it be? I had completely forgotten it was even there and hadn’t given it any attention for weeks. I saw its huge leaves growing, but how could I pass by it several times a week without noticing its perfect white head? I was amazed at its beauty. It was huge, about the size of honeydew melon, and pure white with no blemishes.
The only reason I saw it that day, camouflaged with snow, was because I was at that window, focused and praying to God and ready to receive His answer. I recognized that, and because of it, my mood was lifted immediately by His grace.
What a gift! I thanked God for opening my eyes and giving me the tastiest, most succulent cauliflower I had ever eaten for dinner that evening. I had a new perspective and appreciation for the creativity of the Lord’s answers to prayer, and even for what might be an example of His gentle sense of humor.
God is so good!
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.