I learned a powerful lesson last summer from my friend Mary Ellen that left an image in my heart that I won’t ever forget.
Many years ago, just after the fall of 2004, an amazing phenomenon happened in Death Valley, a parched desert country just outside of Baker, CA. The mountains that surround this desert country are relentless, formed in such a way to allow the hot air to recirculate throughout the valley, making this area one of the hottest places on earth. On some summer afternoons the ground-level temperatures can reach up to 200 degrees.
The flowers in this desert country are unique in the fact that the seeds they produce have an extra thick, waxy coating that allows them to hibernate on the desert floor for decades. The particular seeds that covered the ground in the fall of 2004 had weathered years of severe extremes as they waited, dormant, on the desert floor.
And then, a once in a lifetime experience happened.
An early, winter rainstorm came late in the fall. The rainstorms continued at regular intervals throughout the winter and into spring. This deep soaking, gentle rain was essential. It began to wash away the protective covering that surrounded the seeds, and with time, they began to sprout.
In the Spring of 2005 six inches of rain fell on the thirsty desert floor ––three times the usual amount for this hot country. The conditions caused wildflowers that had been dormant for decades to sprout and take root across the valley floor, covering the stark white sand and black basalt mountainside with a rare burst of color that spread across what is known as Death Valley, carpeting the desert floor with vibrant pink, purple, white and yellow wildflowers.
Experts said this kind of show is experienced just once in a lifetime.
It happened because the conditions were right. Suddenly a parched dessert floor was covered with petals.
The rain was essential to the process, allowing what had once lain dormant to take root and sprout, until each seed eventually bloomed into a miraculous display of beauty.
Perhaps the same is true of our tears.
Somewhere within each of us there are seeds that have been carefully placed. These seeds are waiting patiently, dormant, for their time to come. When the conditions are right they will take root.
Sometimes the perfect condition that allows for the growth of these seeds is painful. Tears may be required. Slowly and gently these precious tears will wash away the protective covering that surrounds the seeds and they will begin to sprout.
There is a unique beauty found in this kind of seed, for it blooms into a rare and precious blossom ––one that you will treasure and protect; one that you will share with others when the conditions are right; one that would have lain dormant for your entire lifetime, without this particular moment to allow for its growth.
The Lord knew about these kinds of seeds. He spoke of those who would tend carefully to their growth.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth,
Bearing precious seed,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
There will be moments when each of us will weep over the precious seeds hidden within us. On those days we will sow in tears. Perhaps the tears are the only way to uncover the protective covering, the only way to allow this particular blossom to take root. In time the joy will come. Not replacing the pain or the tears ––instead the joy will grow up out of the furnace of affliction, offering beautiful petals from what was once parched and barren ground.
The Lord will attend us through this sowing process.
And often after the tears are dried we will discover the precious seed we bore has blossomed into something worth rejoicing over. Something we might not ever have recognized before the tears began to fall.
We must remember, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) and that those “who sow in tears” will eventually “reap in joy.”
That is the promise of the Lord.