Surprise Lilies sprouting in my backyard

Surprise Lilies sprouting in my backyard

Right on cue, the surprise lilies have begun popping up from the lawn. I can remember these beauties flowering at my childhood home in Mississippi and was filled with wonder at their sudden emergence during the dog days of summer and their stark lack of foliage. I remember cutting one as a child and walking around with it all day, holding it like an umbrella, as if its magic dust would fall on me.

We moved into our clapboard home in Kentucky a November several years ago. It is in an established 1930s neighborhood: a time when neighbors really knew each other and had each other over for coffee and talked over the fence and shared flowering bulbs after they divided them. As a gardener, I couldn’t wait for spring because I knew this horticultural exchange likely occurred—iris leaf fans were prevalent in my and my neighbor’s back yards. When the temperature warmed, I noticed a mass grouping of green leaves sprouting along the fence line. A few feet down on my neighbor’s side of the fence was the same foliage. It rose and thickened and rose and thickened and I was busting with excitement to see what would unfurl from the stems; but no stems emerged. Instead, the foliage died back around late May, leaving me perplexed and disappointed.

I soon exchanged that disappointment for a greater one: my parents were getting a divorce after thirty-five plus years of marriage, magnifying my homesickness. Then I saw them: surprise lilies—living up to their name—had sprouted seemingly overnight the first of August. Imagine the thrill I felt seeing that flower magically appear in my Kentucky yard! A rush of memories transported me to those oppressively humid Delta summers, eating dewberries and swatting mosquitoes and climbing trees and doing what kids do when they’re bored. It was a beautifully tangible reminder that God’s Presence was with me through the splitting of my family tree (and my heart). And knowing my homesickness would be great, He planted a little of Mississippi in my backyard.

Isn’t that just like God? We feel the workings of His hand planting dreams and desires and hopes within us and we’re encouraged by the lush growth. But we are soon disappointed when we see no fruit and walk away discouraged, forgetting what He’s sown is just under the surface, waiting for just the right time—His time—to emerge. It’s when we’ve surrendered our life expectations to Him that we suddenly see His will bloom into being—just when we need it the most—and God says, “Surprise!”

Thank You, ever-present, ever-loving Lord, for planting the desire to write in my heart as You formed me. Thank you for the achingly dormant time as this gift matured unseen, only to blossom—surprisingly—overnight. To You is the praise and glory for this beautiful transformation.


How about you? What desire, dream, or hope has God planted in you that you’ve recently seen come to fruition? Are you still waiting? I’d love to pray for you!

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