In the last few weeks spring sprung in Colorado.

Green blades slice through the tender dark soil. Blossoms burst into color. White, pink, yellow, and green colors decorate woody branches and slender stalks. Bulbs deep within the earth give rise to the colors of the rainbow showing off their delicate grandeur. Grasshoppers jump, butterflies flutter, bees buzz, birds chirp, and flies zip; each creature springing to life with the warmth of the day and cool of the night.

Breakthrough – An important discovery or development. A leap forward or a step in the right direction. Growth. Movement through difficulty or uncertainty. Victory.

Ponder with me the ways God’s creation experiences breakthrough.

I notice that seeds buried beneath the earth, bulbs planted into the ground, and buds developing on a a tree each experience a time of darkness before breakthrough. Darkness encase the seeds inside the earth and casings enclose blooms upon a tree. Before breakthrough, darkness envelopes opportunities in creation for new life and growth.

While surrounded by darkness, God, the Gardener designed nutrients to penetrate the veiled space of the seed, bulb, and blossom, preparing for movement into the beam of the sunlight. The seedlings receive nutrition from the soil, water from the rain, and heat from the light of the sun. Sustenance sit upon closed blossoms offering life-giving ingredients to bring beauty into God’s creation. However, the seedlings must submit to receive these nutrients. Sadly, those seeds and blooms with hard casings which refuse the infusion of nutrients fail to burst through the soil or erupt with color. Seeds, bulbs, and blossoms must submit and surrender to the elements of God’s design in order to join His extraordinary creation.

When I think of the soul as a garden, a matchless sacred wonder of God’s creativity and beauty, I wonder what breakthrough looks like. How does the Holy Spirit offer breakthrough? The soul reveals the essence and totality of who we are in God. God transforms the soul bringing beauty to the world by conforming each of us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through darkness and submission, breakthrough transpires so we become more like God, exemplifying His character, His mind, and His heart.

If your soul were a garden, imagine what it might look like. Consider the variety of flowers, plants, and trees as well as the living creatures that find sanctuary within this environment. Day dream and wonder about your soul for a moment with the Lord.

Breakthrough in the soil of creation resembles breakthrough within the soil of the believer’s heart. In the spiritual journey, movement through difficulty or uncertainty into breakthrough often involves a period of darkness. The story of the prodigal son in the Bible reveals this reality with clarity (John 15:11-32). After mishandling the gifts and blessings of his father, this young man finds himself in a dark space. The desperation in the darkness of his circumstances forces the son to examine himself. While in the darkness an opportunity for life, forgiveness, and healing break through and this hurting soul comes “to his senses;” he experiences a breakthrough. He humbles himself, takes a step in the right direction, and returns home where he receives forgiveness and restoration from his father. The garden of the son’s soul lives a breakthrough into newness and growth.

Where in the garden of your soul does darkness exist? Examine what is buried within, in the darkness. Darkness arises both from our own choices as well as the choices of others, yet the God of the universe longs to meet you in the darkness? Allow the Spirit freedom to confront, convict, challenge, and cleanse the dark garden spaces within your soul. God does mighty work in the dark.

Just as a bulb buried into the ground must submit and surrender to the nutrients offered from the soil and the environment, so too, must the soil of the heart submit to God’s nutrients for fruitful living. Endless opportunities provide touchpoints with God for Him to tend to the soul; three come to mind.

God meets with His people through the Bible. What Scripture penetrates the casing of your soul? Do you approach God’s Word for information and details, or for God’s invitations and development into Christlikeness? Submit to the Word of God. Ruminate upon Truth. Let Scripture penetrate the parts of your soul experiencing darkness.

Through prayer, our triune God offers His presence, peace, and power. Let these realities infiltrate those dark spaces. Embrace the sweetness of God and still with Him in the darkness. Encounter God through the silence of listening, as well as in sharing the concerns of your heart. Submit to God’s movement as He encounters the darkness in the garden of your soul so that breakthrough occurs.

Community lightens the heaviness of darkness. God formed His creation to need and live with others. Submit to His design by allowing others into the dark plots in the garden of your soul. Invite wise and godly counsel into the questions arising in the dark. Listen and learn from others. Humbly surrender to the voice of God through others in community to encourage breakthrough and victory.

What other opportunities arise within your heart to allow God to tend to your inner being? How do you live in submission and surrender to God while in the darkness? Are you receptive to the truth of His nutrients? Choose a practice to engage as you submit to the Lord in those places of darkness within the garden of your soul.

Where do you need breakthrough? Where in your soul do you long for change?

Perhaps fear, addiction, jealousy, pride, busyness, anger, and hopelessness live buried in the soil of your soul? Welcome God into the darkness, offering His presence. Submit to His nutrients to transform these “seeds, bulbs, and blossoms” into courage, freedom, contentment, humility, rest, gentleness, and hope. Notice the treasures God offers in the darkness as your soul soaks in His supernatural nutrients for transformation, victory, and growth.

Prepare for breakthrough. Submit to the movement of God in the darkness. Notice the beautiful colors popping within the garden of your soul.

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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Luke 19:8 – But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Isaiah 45:3 – I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful God. Downers Grove, IL. 2009

James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful Community. Downers Grove, IL. 2010.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Red Rocks Worship. Breakthrough.

Red Rocks Worship. I Will Trust.