A Time to Gather

A Time to Gather

Lately, I’ve been struggling about what to write about and I was beginning to feel some kind of way about it. Some kind of …what’s wrong with me? …why am I stuck? …is the Spirit speaking to me anymore? or am I not listening? …hearing? …seeing? Am I too busy? …too distracted? …unorganized? … planning disabled …too …whatever?

When I don’t know what to do, I do what I know to do best.

Walking it out with Jesus in Nature …

Being with Jesus is always the thing that centers me and brings calm in the chaos. He helps make sense out of the messes or gives peace to rest in the mysteries I can’t understand. Walking with Him in nature often pulls me into the eternal realm as His glory is displayed through His creation.

Most mornings (and evenings too), I walk around the little gardens at our home — which I affectionately call, “our little cottage in the city.” This month — July 4th — marks our official transplant from Connecticut to Alabama. It’s been 7 years and each year we’ve added a little more flower beds and gardens to grace the landscape. Perennials, annuals, shrubs, borders, raised bed vegetable gardens. Vivid colors or deep purples, bright yellows, creamy whites, vibrant pinks. Variegated leaves, surprise lilies, early spring forsythia and late summer mums.

I get such joy out of cutting flowers every day to bring inside and grace our counters and table tops with the happy faces each bloom shares. The colors and variety of lacy ferns and greenery fill the arrangement with what can only be explained as a glorious display of God’s creation.

Nature teaches me well and the latest lesson has been cultivating a thought that it’s all about the gathering.

Many flowers only last a short time after being cut and placed in a vase. Even with an ample amount of good water for their thirsty stems, some just don’t stand up well after being cut from their main plant.

My disappointment in this short-lived beauty changed when I realized I could enjoy them for all their glory even if only for the short time they give us. There would be another day and another blossom to bring in. Nature taught me that this gives an opportunity for daily joy as I continue to go out and gather new stemmed beauties every day to keep a fresh bouquet on the table.

In the same way, life can feel disappointing when a relationship fades or a dream seems to fall limp. What seemed so glorious and amazing now looks brown around the edges and wilted to the core. No amount of conferences or workshops seem to water the brain stem enough to keep it engaged and focused.

A Season of gathering

What if there are seasons of planting …then watering …then experiencing the growth …followed by a glorious display of beauty? And what if all that beauty that came out of the planting and growth becomes a season of gathering which will then become the nutrients and water for another cycle of planting.

From all of the life- lessons learned — trials, joys, sorrows, transitions, uprooting, pruning, and watering in the word — we are able to gather the stories, the truths, the beauty God has grown in us.

I began to realize how much I’ve been gathering lately …perspective from our homeless neighbors and friends …compassion for those who are marginalized or have lost their way …stories that have fueled our passion for God’s love and social justice for all …diversity in friendships …collecting quotes and manna from God’s word …watching documentaries that have forever changed us …sorting through the bad soil and fertilizing with the good stuff …finding what’s already in our hands that the Spirit is giving life to …gathering wisdom from a life coach who keeps asking the right questions so I can be more intentional in living out my calling for this season …reading good stuff from other writers and speakers …learning from others who grew up with a different narrative…finding flaws in the narrative I grew up with and gathering with others to write a true and better one.

Every Season Has Purpose

This gathering is working for a greater display of God’s glory. Nothing is wasted. Life is not “on hold” but instead it’s holding more and more to eventually grace others with the hope and beauty we’ve found in the days of gathering.

And I remember a gathering of words a wise man once gave us …

There is a right time for everything, and everything on earth will happen at the right time.

There is a time to be born
and a time to die.
…a time to plant
and a time to pull up plants.

… a time to cry
and a time to laugh.
… a time to be sad
and a time to dance with joy.

There is a time to hug someone
and a time to stop holding so tightly.
… a time to look for something
and a time to consider it lost.
… a time to keep things
and a time to throw things away.

There is a time to be silent
and a time to speak.

… God gave us the ability to think about his world, but we can never completely understand everything he does. And yet, he does everything at just the right time.

Scripture excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3 (ERV)

What’s your season?

Are you in a season of planting? Growing? Gathering? Or perhaps this is a time to fertilize the soil of your soul with life-giving nutrients for a new season of planting, growth and gathering that might be on the way.

I’m learning that some of the darkest days are actually those special, intimate places where a seed God planted in my heart was beginning to break open …putting down deep roots and preparing the journey upward to push through the soil to the light, sprouting a new display of a God’s purpose in my life. It might be a new beginning in ministry, creativity, work, maturity, family, spiritual renewal, physical healing, adjusting roles or any forward movement in a good direction.

Darkness gives way to LIGHT and there will be a time of more planting, watering, growing, gathering. There’s nothing new under the sun but God is always doing a new thing in us that we’ve never seen before.

Gather on, my friend. I can’t wait to see the beauty of God’s glory that is about to be displayed in you!

Here’s a few of the good things I’ve been gathering that you might be interested in…  

Films & Documentaries on Social Justice Issues:

When They See Us (A Netflix Original Created by Ava DuVernay)

13th Film (Documentary by Ava DuVernay)

Words of Jesus:

The Parables of Jesus

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)

Life Coach:

Charity Bowie (Huntsville, Alabama)


The Road Back to You :  An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery   (Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile, Publisher: IVP Books (October 4, 2016)




Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands   (Shona & David Murray , Publisher:  Crossway, 2017)




Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus:  How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith  (Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg, Published by Zondervan, 2009, 2018


Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Debby Smith

    Nothing is wasted.

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