April McGowan

How He Loves Us


The very word, Spring, reminds me of freedom and newness. Of being made over. Of Jesus. And Easter. His sacrifice. His rising and our being made over in His image. This can be a painful thing (see my previous post). But it can also be such a freeing thing. We need to be taken out of our old container, where we’ve been bound and kept, where our roots stretch to find space, nutrients and moisture. But He uproots us. That’s how He loves us. Our roots fasten to the container, but He keeps pulling until we break free and we are cradled in nothing but his loving hands.

I have this plant that continues to shoot off a new leaf every month as the previous one dies, but it never gets any bigger than that. Yep, it’s got two leaves. It’s bound to its constraints, but it doesn’t give up. It also can’t do a thing about getting soil or a bigger pot. It won’t get any healthier unless I do something about it. 20150402_163314(It’s on my TO DO list. Don’t worry!)

When we first moved to Oregon in 1994, I was aching for a garden—but we lived in an apartment. We went to a garden center, dreaming of what we might have one day and the owner talked us into a viburnum. It was a small tree-like looking thing in a pot that we could move from place to place, with bunches of white, glorious smelling flowers. She said it’d survive in the pot, so we bought it and took it with us from apartment to apartment for eight years.

Once we bought our house, we took that tiny plant and pulled it from its root bound pot, broke the roots loose and plopped it down with some fertilizer and covered it with soil, hoping for the best. The first year it didn’t do much–it was adjusting. It didn’t even flower. But then, it began to grow. And grow. Now I have to remember every year to cut it back away from the house. It’s thriving, rich and spreading out so fast I can’t keep up with it. Every year, for three weeks each spring, it bursts out with fist-sized bunches of sweet, aromatic flowers that fill yard (and house when we bring clippings in) with the perfect sweet smell of spring.

viberum flowers

Change can be hard. We might not even know we need it—we’re happy in our pots and we balk at being pulled out of our safe havens and plopped down somewhere else—maybe somewhere scary. A new place. A new illness. A new challenge. A new opportunity for submission to the master gardener.

I’ve been reminded this week that even when the future is unknown, we can trust in the One that loves to tend us and who knows when those changes are necessary. Just like I need to take care of that poor plant on my window sill. It won’t like it right away. But it’s the merciful, loving thing to do. I can’t wait to see how it grows.


  1. Valerie Becker
    Apr 3, 2015

    Thank you again for the beautiful and encouraging words. I really look forward to reading your posts. Happy Easter to you and your lovely family. He is risen!

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