Abundance is my One Word for One Year this year. As I wrote before, I didn’t choose this word for a particular reason. In fact, I had a different word picked out. But God quietly whispered this word to me in January, and I accepted.
I’ve noticed abundance in ways I wouldn’t have without focusing on this word. It’s helped reinforce to my heart the generous nature of our great God. Here’s one example.
Abundance in the Garden
We have a garden again this year. It’s the 3rd summer we’ve planted in raised beds. And to say our plants are growing like crazy this year, would be an understatement. Three weeks ago, my son ran to the house exclaiming, “You have to come to the garden now! The tomatoes are covering the path and reaching the fence!”
He wasn’t exaggerating. They had outgrown their cages (by about 3 feet). Between a heavy storm and getting weighty with tomatoes, they had bent over and now strew into the pathway.
Two hours of pruning and staking gave me ample time to contemplate the examples of abundance (or in some cases, overabundance) around me in nature. Here are 4 observations along with their relevance to life.
#1 – Abundance is natural when the conditions are right.
I’ve planted tomatoes for each of the last three years. I’ve had healthy plants and we’ve always enjoyed tomatoes that are FAR better than any you buy in the store. I have NEVER had tomatoes grow this abundantly.
What made the difference? This spring while preparing our beds I added in fresh composted manure from a local friend. I’ve always added in something to the dirt, but nothing to this extent. It made all the difference.
So it is in life. I get to cultivate the soil of my heart, mind, and soul. God is ready to lead me places, speak to me, provide abundant blessings. I am responsible to place myself in a position to know him, hear him, delight in him, obey him, and receive from him.
When I spend time with him out of duty, my heart is not changed. When I pray through a list without engaging my heart, my ears are not attuned. But when I cultivate intimacy with him – loving him, laughing with him, delighting in him – then the soil is fertile, and he can accomplish more than I can ever imagine.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.
#2 – Abundance does not discriminate.
This is a bumper year for wild blackberries where we live. This is especially exciting because last year was quite the disappointing year. We’ve already made blackberry cobbler, and eaten many handfuls of the delightful berry. Plus there are still several more weeks to pick them!
It’s also a bumper year for poison ivy. We had a lot last year, but it pales in comparison to this year. It’s everywhere – around trees, along the forest edge, intermingled with blackberries (yikes!), at the lake edge. A few early run ins and we quickly learned to look carefully first!
Seems both these plants thrive in wet conditions which perfectly describes our spring and summer. And while I could do without the abundance of poison ivy, I would definitely miss out on the delights of blackberries. So, we take it. The good with the bad.
So it is in life. An abundance of good surrounded by an abundance of evil. Everything allowed to prosper, if only for a season. Hard things happening not just to those who seem to deserve it, but even to those who don’t. This can be hard to accept. Hard to wrap our minds around. And yet we trust in the faithfulness of a sovereign God who sees all, and causes all things to work together for good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
#3 – Abundance is not under my control.
I thought this summer would be the last summer planting cucumbers. I tried unsuccessfully to grow them the last two years. I only planted one this year because my son begged me. I begrudgingly acquiesced. And, of course, we’ve already had more cucumbers this year than all the other years combined.
I’m not really sure what is so different this year. Maybe it’s the weather. More rain, cooler temps. Maybe it’s the fresh composted manure. Or maybe, it’s God’s gentle reminder that I can’t figure out and achieve the perfect environment to produce abundance.
I have a new appreciation for farmers. Long hours in the hot sun. Doing everything they know to produce an abundant crop and yet, ultimately, they are at the mercy of God. For sun, and rain, all at the right times. For enough time to harvest and store.
It’s a reminder that life is not really up to me. I can plan. I can prepare. I can execute. But in reality, it is God who brings it all to pass. I can’t control a thing. And that’s ok.
Deuteronomy 30:9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers.
#4 – Abundance is often hidden in plain sight.
Two years ago, we found two mulberry trees close by. We’ve enjoyed a handful of mulberries here and there along the way. This year we found three more trees already producing mulberries plus a handful of other saplings at varying stages of growth.
One of these trees we lived beside for 9 months and never noticed. Another we drove by everyday for over three years without ever seeing the berries. Two others are near places we frequent regularly as we go on walks.
We could have been eating mulberries by the gallons (or at least quarts), but were none the wiser. This happens in life too. We tend to see what we want to see instead of what is actually in front of us. Our perspectives skew reality. Our assumptions misinterpret truth.
God places reminders all around us. Hints of character. Examples of his bountiful provision. But to see them we have to slow down and listen. We have to wait to discern his voice above the other voices clamoring for our attention. We have to see with the eyes of our heart.
Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Abundance. It’s everywhere around us. Even when can’t see it. It’s a gift from God, not something you can earn or manufacture. As you cultivate intimacy with God, you’ll be amazed as you see abundance in ways you never before imagined!
Do you have a word of the year? How’s it going? I’d love to hear something God’s taught you or opened your eyes to. Leave a comment or send me an email!