Posted in focus on faith

What’s the difference between dead and dormant?

My husband and I were in California in the late 1990s and we took a drive down memory lane. The last stop would be an acreage near Modesto where we had lived more than a decade earlier. That property had been covered with fruit trees of every description. Delicious fresh fruit was available to us every day of the year. For people from a northern climate where fruit was scarce and small, this was paradise.

A six-foot high chain-link fence enclosed the entire property but another wooden fence divided the grassy area around the house from the orchard and outbuildings in the back half. Those fences were heavy with grapevines.

The orchard produced everything from figs to kumquats. Pears, cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, apples, oranges, lemons, grapefruits, persimmons – you name it, we had a tree for it. Beside the house was a rose garden that provided a fresh bouquet of vibrant color every week of the year. Wisteria vines covered the veranda, offering their heady fragrance in summer. It was idyllic.

When we returned, more than a decade later, we arrived at the tiny rural settlement where the acreage was located and turned onto the street where we had once lived. But something was different. We didn’t recognize anything. What we recalled was not there. Thinking we were on the wrong street, we idled one block over and tried again. Nope. The house wasn’t there either. Eventually we drove through the entire community and returned to the street where we had begun.

Driving up to the place where our old Eden should have been, we got out of the car, camera in hand. We had planned to take a photograph to show our kids who were too young at the time to remember much of their years there. The property in front of us had no security fence. There was no vine-draped veranda. The rose garden was gone. The outbuildings were gone. There were no citrus trees in front of the house. No orchard out back. No lawn.

In fact, there was neither tree nor grass on the entire property. What remained was a rundown house, badly in need of paint and a new roof. Where the veranda should have been was a sagging front stoop. The shabby house stood in the middle of an acre of dust so fine it was like dingy baby powder. We still could not believe this was the place we had once lived and thought we were mistaken until I saw something.

A little boy was sitting in the dust in front of the house, watching us with vague interest. He was pushing a toy truck back and forth along an imaginary road. His truck had scraped away just enough dirt to reveal a small patch of pavement — what was left of the circular drive in front of the house – hidden under the powdery dust. I felt sick. This was the place all right but it looked like it had been hit with a 10-year drought or a tornado or both.

“Let’s not take a picture,” I said. “I don’t want to remember it this way.” Gerry agreed and we drove away, our day suddenly cloudy and dull. We didn’t talk for a long time as we retraced our passage back through the Silicon Valley and over the mountains towards the Bay area.

We felt wounded. …

When my husband and I were finally able to talk about how such a complete transformation could take place, our best guess was that after we left, the new tenants must have stopped watering. In Modesto, where it does not rain for half the year, grapes, almonds, tomatoes and a bevy of other produce are grown in abundance due to a system of canals that provide the needed moisture. Without irrigation, very little can survive the long summer drought. But the soil is so rich in nutrients that one can grow almost anything – as long as it gets water.

We knew that within the dusty wasteland of our acreage was the potential for great abundance. We knew that the entire place could be restored to its former beauty. God knew the same thing could happen to me in my wilderness by the addition of life giving Water and the tender care of the Gardener’s hands. The potential was all there but for lack of water, it was invisible.

There is a difference between dead and dormant. Take heart, fellow wanderer, what seems like death is only a season of dormancy. (excerpt From Faking it to Finding Grace)

Why is this good news?

Dead means done. Over. Kaput.

Dormant means asleep. In waiting. At rest. Will rise again.

After several years of thinking my faith was dead I felt hopeless. When I began to experience tiny urgings from God, I was surprised to discover that my “dead” faith was coming out of hibernation.

Yes by yes, I came out of dormancy and the fruit began to grow again. Every yes was a decision to trust God and to do what He asked.



Christian writer and speaker trying to follow God one yes at a time.

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