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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Wiebe

Reassurance in Unexpected Places

I didn’t think I’d get a second chance.

It was unexpected to have an opportunity to get back to my fall ‘to-do’ list after reluctantly accepting that the tasks that remained undone would simply have to wait to be accomplished until spring. Not that I had been lazy or unproductive, but the fall ministry launch and our son’s wedding in September added a layer of busyness to a time of year when time is very much of the essence! I have often caught myself extending that to-do list when the weather is unseasonably pleasant; this can lead to a great sense of fulfillment and gratification when tasks are completed, or a sense of resigned disappointment when the weather suddenly turns and time simply runs out.

A snowfall at the end of October certainly seemed like the to-do list would fall into that latter category.

But in a demonstration of how quickly – and completely! – the weather can change, making it seem almost capricious in nature, the temperatures became unseasonably warm once again. The snow disappeared and we enjoyed a stretch of beautiful, warm, fall weather that brought the to-do list back to the forefront. Flower pots and garden beds were tidied, and fallen branches collected. And I had an opportunity to seed grass in the perennial garden in the ‘back forty’, a decommissioning project that had taken much longer than expected, its completion finally marked while on sabbatical in the spring.

It was while I was working in my former garden sanctuary that I made a most surprising and beautiful discovery! Underneath an ornamental crab apple tree, nestled in dry leaves and a few sparse blades of grass, I found a perfect bloom, it’s lemony yellow center a cheerful contrast to the deep violet, satiny-soft blossom reaching its little face to the warm November sunshine. It brought back memories of spending time in the garden with my grandma as she tended her flowers with great care. Pansies, or ‘Johnny-jump-ups’ as I knew them as a child, were not treated as weeds in grandma’s garden, but as lovely accents provided by nature to further enhance grandma’s beautiful flower gardens. That this flower would have prevailed against wind, frost, and sub-zero temperatures which brought ice and snow, made it stand out distinctly like a beacon of courage and resilience. And it made my heart full to recognize that in the midst of my second chance, I was able to see this tiny miracle.

‘When God gives you a second chance, it’s not something you take for granted.’ - Lane Kiffen

The symbol of strength, courage and resilience represented in that tiny flower was not lost on me as 2023 neared its close. I can say quite honestly that, while the past couple of years have been filled with many uncertain and difficult life experiences, the events of 2023 proved to be a heartbreakingly, painful culmination as we said ‘see you later’ to my dad in March. Losing the patriarch of our family is a huge loss – and one that we continue to navigate one day at a time; sometimes, depending on the day, navigating this ‘new normal’ is even just an hour or a minute at a time. And yet, in the midst of this season of colder, darker, longer days, a cheerful, little flower sprang up, showing resilience in circumstances that surely should have cut off its joy, hope and courage.

It's interesting how God places these tiny little reassurances into our lives when we need His security, peace and presence most. In the hustle and bustle of life one might easily overlook a tiny flower half-hidden by dead leaves and a few blades of grass. When we are intentional in slowing our pace and life brings us to a place of reflection and simplification, there is meaning in something as simple, pure, and minute as a violet bloom valiantly reaching up to face the sun.

‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ (James 1:17, NIV)

To know that God’s steadfast, unchanging and stalwart presence is something we can count on always (when times are favorable – and especially when they’re not!) brings the deepest sense of peace to the soul. God is trustworthy, and is the source of all the good in our lives. This is an unswerving truth we can cling to in every season.

Carolyn Wiebe is the Children’s Ministry Director at Winkler EMM Church, Manitoba


This article was originally published in The Recorder Vol 61 No 2


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