Some time ago in our home, we concluded that my wife Elizabeth’s wellies were now very old, over-used, leaky, and no longer fit-for-purpose. They were of no further value – fit only to be thrown away. Perhaps they could be recycled, but apart from that, they were good for nothing else.
Then I had an idea. We would re-purpose them and use them as planters – just for a bit of fun! So I staked them to the ground, filled them with compost and bulbs, and then proceeded to neglect them for many months.
And nothing much happened. If you had challenged us back then, we would have told you that we considered our efforts to revitalise an old pair of wellies nothing more than wasted time.
Then, almost by accident, we hazarded upon that corner of the garden where the neglected wellies had been left. We almost did not notice them as they were so overgrown and shadowed by other bushy leaves we had not planted. But then, a careful look revealed that there were also a lot of green leaves now growing from the top of the wellies – and even some tulip buds on long, thin, well-hidden stalks! The buds were the promise of flowers soon to come!
It made me consider the prayers that we offer. Prison Fellowship gives us the opportunity to pray for massive ‘garden landscape’ prayers. The big requests where progress seems slow or even non-existent. This apparent lack of progress or change may frustrate us. Through Prayer Line, we can also pray for the lonely, despairing person in the isolated cell. We may feel that our prayer is too little. And possibly even too late.
What did I learn from the wellies and tulips?
I learnt that God can re-purpose a broken life. I learnt that what I see and interpret may be wrong and mislead me – I do not always notice the slow, deep and meaningful changes that are happening out of my sight. Organic growth and progress runs according to God’s timeframe, not mine.
Finally, I was reminded that my part in this was very simple really – all I did was bury a few bulbs. But, because I did my part, God brought about transformation and growth. It brings to my mind 1 Corinthians 3:6 – ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.’ Together with our God, we form part of a team – PF support team, Chaplaincy staff, volunteers, supporters and – of course – our God. We have an important part to play for our team – praying over the big systemic issues and also praying for the one-person life-changing burdens to be rolled away. Our role is to take what care we can and join in with the teamwork – God will bring about the increase in His own good time.
Paul Jones is a Sycamore Tree group facilitator and Letter Link volunteer. He is also taking part in RideLondon to raise support and awareness for PF. Support Paul by donating here.
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