This is the time of year  when for many of us our thoughts turn to gardening, getting things ready for the new growing season. Some years ago, I noticed a pot of forgotten iris tubers in my garage. I had dug them out my garden the summer previous with a thought to planting them elsewhere. That never did happen and so they were put into the garage to wait for the new growing season.

During the early spring however their seasonal alarm clock went off and they starting growing all by themselves in the darkness of the garage. They had in fact started growing right through the slot in the pot that had been carelessly tossed on top of them. I carefully pulled the pot off freeing the new growth to thrive unfettered.

I took the pot of tubers into the backyard to finally decide on their new location. But I couldn’t help notice that although the new growth was tall, and with suitably formed leaves, those same leaves were pale with only a hint of green in them. In comparison to the iris that were developing their new growth in the out of doors with the sun and rain assisting their growth, these garage irises looked sickly. Darkness had stunted their development.

In looking at them I thought about how living in the dark away from the sun affects us physically and emotionally. In the dark dreary days of late fall and winter we somehow feel less alive. There is even a documented condition that is identified as Seasonal Affective Disorder that people fall prey to in winter when the hours of sunlight are the least.

Living in the dark; living in the dark physically, emotionally and yes spiritually is life sapping. Jesus says in John 8:12 that He is the light of the world. Whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness but have the light of life. I asked myself how I allow myself to live in darkness allowing only a little light into my life, staying alive but lacking the colour and joy that living in the light of Jesus brings.

I think about the days that I spend time reading Scripture but not meditating on it, reading only words and not allowing God to speak to me through them. A little darkness creeps in.

I think about the times I pray but allow my mind to wander far from God’s presence. A little more darkness creeps in.

I give into personal desires that are not God-directed. Still more darkness creeps in.

Before long the diminished light in my life starts to affect my fruitfulness. I am alive but with little growth and transformation that produces any fruit that God blesses. Just as that iris was alive but was most certainly not going to produce any glorious royal purple flags, by the grace of God I would remain alive but would not be capable of producing anything of eternal value.

That pale plant is in the ground now. It is being nourished by the sun, rain and soil. I will watch its transformation making up for the months spent in darkness. It won’t flower this year as its counterparts will but it may next year.

Do I really want to miss out on a whole season of God working in and through me because I chose to live in darkness of my own making? Certainly not. I’d much rather be a John 3:21 woman: Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what she has done has been done through God.

That anemic iris will serve as a reminder to me that God’s light gives life, transforms life and I need to walk in it daily.

Lord teach us to be aware of the times and seasons when we allow darkness to creep into our lives. Keep us alert, growing and producing fruit for You.

By Cheryl Hughes, Lorne Park Baptist Church