And Then There Was . . . None

No one has ever accused me of having a green thumb. In fact, my plants have died and come back to life so many times I’ve named them all Lazarus. I’ve never been able to figure out those fine lines (at least I assume they’re fine) between not enough water, enough water, and too much water. Everything either shrivels, wilts, or turns yellow.

And yet I persist.

For the last few years, I’ve tried my hand at growing a few herbs. Basil does fairly well, except I don’t use enough of it, and it gets leggy and sparse. I tried thyme this year. The hardest part was in not pulling out the fragile roots when I tried to pick off the inevitably dead leaves. Parsley is the other herb I’ve tried growing. It did fairly well last year (fairly well might be stretching it), so I tried again this year.

Growing next to the thyme in a long, rectangular pot on my porch, I was quite pleased that the flat-leaf parsley was doing reasonably well. Not bad, I thought, patting myself on the back, until the morning I discovered my little parsley plant adorned with nine—yes, NINE—caterpillars. They had each claimed a branch (stalk?) and were merrily munching away.

My first impulse was to pull them off and throw them in the yard. But I don’t like bugs—not even caterpillars—so I squirmed a bit at that. I considered waiting until the Cowboy got home and task him with the job. Then I checked with my three best sources for plant information—my friends Vera and Patti … and Google. They all concurred that the caterpillars—which, by the way, were very pretty—would soon become lovely black swallowtail butterflies. If I didn’t kill them.

So I left them alone.

Within two days those caterpillars ate every single leaf (and a lot of the stems) off my poor parsley plant. It was naked, and the caterpillars were gone. One actually made its cocoon right there on the plant, but I missed the unveiling of the butterfly. For all I knew, those caterpillars ate my plant and were never seen again.

To my amazement, new growth began to appear the very next day, vibrant green and so much healthier than the caterpillar food of just a few days earlier. Within two days, the entire plant had resurrected with a beauty it had never before exhibited.

I’m convinced there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Maybe it’s that we can have something, something we’re reasonably convinced is good … or sufficient … and then—suddenly—it’s gone, destroyed, taken away. We can be devastated by the loss, certain that God isn’t looking out for us, convinced our world has crashed into an unforgiving brick wall.

But then God … who is always true to His Word … restores. And when He restores it is with something so much more beautiful than what was destroyed. As Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB)

I also think of Job. He had everything a man could want—family, land, wealth, and good health. He was content with his life and, if you had asked him, he would probably have said he had everything he needed and wanted. But it was all taken away from him, and he was forced to confront some hard truths.

When the time was right, God not only restored everything Job had lost (no, his children did not come back to life, but he was blessed with more children), He gave him more than he had before. He was doubly blessed.

In my own life, when I was at my lowest, when I looked back on my life and felt I had nothing to show for all the years I had walked on this earth, when I was pretty sure that the light at the end of the tunnel could be an oncoming train, I was reminded of Joel 2:25 … “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts have eaten … and the crawling locusts, the consuming locusts, and the chewing locusts …” And I took heart.

And God was, as always, true to His Word.

There is more than one kind of locust mentioned in Joel … swarming, crawling, consuming, and chewing … and I’m going to give that more thought. But regardless of the kind of locust that has swarmed, crawled, consumed, or chewed what I think are the good things in our lives, God will come in and restore … and not just to the level of blessing we had before … but with blessings more vibrant and rich and …

Just as my parsley plant was destroyed by caterpillars, it grew back healthier and greener than before … and those caterpillars turned into lovely black swallowtails. I’d say the sacrifice was worth the beauty that emerged from both plant and caterpillar.

Have you ever experienced “locusts” in your life? Have you experienced the blessing of restoration? I’d love to hear!


And Then There Was . . . None — 1 Comment