Isabella plucked a dried leaf from the ground and squished it between her fingers.
“Papa, what growed here?”
“Carrots,” he laughed as he remembered. “Lots and lots of carrots. We went a little wild with the seeds in the springtime, and your Memaw was up to her eyeballs in carrots.”
An idea flitted across the little girl’s face, her rosy cheeks widening into an excited smile.
“Do you think I could grow some this year?”
“Sure, pumpkin. We can always use your help.” The sprightly older man ruffled her hair, then bent down to swing her up into his arms when she reached for him.
They continued their walk back to the old farmhouse, her chatter filling the late winter air.
As the days grew longer, and the earth began to lose its chill, the little girl and her Papa could usually be found in the garden where the soft dirt and flashes of life underneath held a sort of fascination for them both. The well-worn hands guided the young, smooth ones with patience until there were neat little rows with pristine white markers at the ends to show where each vegetable had been planted.
A few weeks later, he stepped off of his front porch and spotted a bright purple jacket hunkered down over one of the rows in the garden. He made his way over to his granddaughter, whistling as he walked.
“Whatcha find, Isabella? Any worms?”
“No Papa. I just trying to see if my carrots are growed yet.”
He noticed the little hand trowel next to her and the mound of freshly overturned dirt.
“You didn’t dig it up, did you?”
Her gaze faltered and he could tell she was trying to figure out if she had done something wrong.
“I just trying to see my carrots.”
“It’s okay honey, we can plant the seed again, but you can’t dig it up until I say. It’s not ready yet; growing takes time.”
“Memaw says I grow fast.”
He laughed. “You sure do, kiddo, and really, the carrots grow fast too, but it seems slow when you’re excited.”
“When can I get them out again?”
“In a few months, they’ll be ready. In the meantime, you and I will have to water them on occasion. Can you help me do that?”
“Sure, Papa, I big. I help you eeevery day!” She stretched out her arms, trying to show him she meant business.
Something stirred in the older man’s heart, a reminder. Just as his precious little granddaughter had grown too impatient with her harvest, he, too, had grown impatient. He had been expecting his life to produce more, more, more. He was frustrated when he found himself stuck in patterns, or when he made mistakes. He was disheartened that some of his own children had strayed from the truth. He knew God had called him to a life of great service, and he had certainly done his best--but he still felt as if he had miles and miles to go before he could be worthy of his reward. It was as if at that moment, God was reminding him to be patient with the growth. To be patient with the things he could not see, understand, or control. He could only be faithful in sowing, watering, and tending, and the rest was up to God.
The little girl tugged on his fingers, drawing his attention back to the present.
“I fixed it!”
He took note of her attempt to re-plant the carrot seed, half of it still sticking out of the earth. Together, they nestled the seed back in its original spot, taking care to pat the dirt around it once more.
Months later, he would look at the joy on Isabella’s face as she held up her prized carrots to show him, and he felt the Holy Ghost prompt a Scripture in his mind that he had learned as a boy.