My african garden is beautiful between the months of December and April, it's lush, green and full of life, so much so that I named our house "Little Eden" when we first moved, here seven years ago.
Then what we call winter arrives and the garden slowly becomes dry, the rains have gone and it gets a little colder. I say what we call "winter" because it's not like the winters that I grew up with in England, wet, cold and dark. It is still beautiful, the sun shines all day, in fact the colours of winter are amazing, but it comes at a price.
Slowly the grass dies until it resembles a dust bowl. Every day it gets baked by the African sun and the ants feed off the few roots that remain until you wonder if the grass will ever survive. In fact you convince yourself each year that it is definitely dead this time.
Around the end of October all conversations are sprinkled with the topic of the coming rains. "I hope we get good rains this year" "I wonder if the rains will be early or late". There is an anticipation and a hope that the season brings, drought stricken for several months especially for those of us who rely on rainwater for our houses, we wait patiently for our water tanks to be filled.
Each day in November we anxiously look at the sky, check the weather reports and pray for the rain. Then often there is a sudden drop in temperature, or a sudden increase in humidity and then there's the smell, and those first few drops of life giving water fall from the sky. Children will leave the house where they have been trying to keep cool and will dance in the rains, some adults too. It's one of the few times that we actually embrace getting drenched, it's a quenching, satisfying delight.
A few days later, we notice the first few shoots of green in the areas where the grass used to be. We don't quite believe it but a few more days pass and yes sure enough, there is no denying it, the grass is growing again, and it grows fast! Within a week there is a soft blanket of green covering most of what was dust last week.
This year it struck me more than ever, and I marvelled at God's grace. Times are tough here in Zimbabwe right now, hope is waning if not dead. People are despondent, frustrated, in despair. They talk of getting out or trying to survive, there is little hope in the government to turn things around. Bond notes loom, fuel is short, systems are broken, police are corrupt, it seems......hopeless.
But as I marvelled at the grass, just a few showers of rain and new life emerges, it reminded me of grace and power, the power in the midst of the impossible. Life raising, miracle working power.
Many things seem dead or lost in our lives and sometime we lose hope, but hope is never really lost, it waits for the rain, it doesn't need much, just enough, enough to start the growth, enough to split the seed, enough to awaken the roots. Faith is like rain, Jesus himself told us, "If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you". (Mt. 17:20)
May you in your season of barren dryness, take your seed of hope, plant it in the soil of God's grace and wait patiently with faith for the rain, because if you cling to hope, the rain will surely come.