The Best of One Ringing Bell: If Something Seems Dead

Another one of my most read posts from the archives. I hope this serves as an encouragement to keep believing for God's redemptive power in the life of someone for whom you have long prayed. This post first ran in April of 2012. 

Last year I bought a hibiscus while in coastal Florida and brought it home. I loved the color of the big full blooms and enjoyed them all spring and summer. In the fall, as frost threatened, I put it in the backyard studio intending to water it over the winter, so it’d come back in the spring.

But…I forgot to water, and when I finally checked on it, the barren branches screamed neglect.


A couple of weeks ago, I was at a family member’s house and saw a hibiscus on their patio putting out leaves.

“In the garage all winter,” I was told. “Maybe watered it twice.”

Oh, if I’d only remembered and mourned the loss of the plant, knowing it’d be unlikely to find one like it locally.

I went home and took the lost cause plant out of the studio intending to throw it on the leaf pile near the road and reuse the pot. As I did, I remembered what my gardening neighbor used to say. “Don’t give up on a plant,” he’d advised. “Hang on to it, give it water, and sometimes they come back.”

I suppose he’d learn over a lifetime that often when things seem dead, that given time and nurture, they could still revive.

Well, I did what my neighbor said. I soaked the plant and put the scraggly thing out in the sun.

I’ve checked on it several times over the past two weeks. Nothing but brown branches, but at least Lucy hadn’t made a chew toy out of it. This morning, again, at first I saw no sign of life.


Then, as I bent closer, down near the roots, a few tiny little leaves sprouted.

I wanted to have a parade. I hadn’t killed the hibiscus after all.

I was so happy I even made Jerry go out and look at it.

For my sake, he feigned rejoicing. I think I’ve mentioned before that he’s not big on gardening.

But as I’ve reflected on my hibiscus, I thought of words by Andrew Murray that I underlined in the Christian classic, With Christ in the School of Prayer. “Instead of being hopeless or judging or giving up those who fall, let us pray for our circle, ‘Father! Keep them in Thy Name; Sanctify them through Thy truth.’ Prayer in the Name of Jesus availeth much; ‘What ye will shall be done unto you.’”

As the water and sun were to my plant, hope, prayer, and God’s word are to those who appear to be dead to the life in Christ.

Given nurture and time, God who is always at work, may allow us to see a demonstration of that work.

At one point in my life, I was for sure a lost cause. In fact, because of the way I was living, someone close to me once said, “I can’t help you anymore.”

But somehow, a few did persevere in prayer. And God redeemed my life.

All these years later, I’m sad to say there are times, when I look at someone’s life and wonder if there’s hope.

I don’t want to ever forget what God has done for me. You may remember the Casting Crowns song "Jesus, Friend of Sinners." i would like to be as Jesus is, even in the direst circumstances.

God’s all about raising the dead. Let’s pray for his heart and his eyes to see the people around us. God, help us be a friend to sinners.

I’m going out to stare at my hibiscus. There’s just something amazing about seeing dead things come back to life.