My patio contains a few planters with flowers. I love flowers, whether they be in the ground, the planter, or the vase. I doubt I am the first girl who's said such a thing to you. I bet men love them too, but they don't want to admit it. How can your heart remain fully saddened when a bright spot of color is smiling on you? God could have made everything green and brown, or just gray, but He used colors and it's brilliant. So I dabble a little bit in the gardening, particularly this year of 2010.
I will confess that it hasn't gone 100% well. I have killed at least 3 potted plant varieties with 2 roommates as my witness. Part of this has come from my lack of knowledge of how much sunlight I get on my patio (I am usually at work when the sun is out). Mostly it is because I don't give my plants enough water or attention. They could also use other things that I spare them, such as fertilizer or insect repellent. Still, I have managed to keep some of my plants alive, including (but not limited to) a selection of 3 plants that I combined together in a beautiful clay pot to sit by my front door. I have always wanted to try creating my own combination for a pot and it worked very well on my first try.
Yesterday evening I arrived home from a weekend out of town for a wedding. All my plants look dismally close to death. I really don't know if they can recover from this one. I spent about 30 minutes outside, dodging some wasps, lopping off branches and yellow leaves and popping dead blossoms off their stalks. Then I drenched every one in water and walked away, knowing that their sorry state has much less to do with a weekend of neglect than it does to do with consistent daily forgetfulness or just plain procrastination to care for my flowers in the way they require to be able to thrive.
I thought then of Jesus, and the fact that He knows what His poor flowers are enduring under my stewardship. He hears their sighs and the drop of each crumbling leaf or crinkled petal. When I planted, I think I fancied myself getting closer to His heart for enjoying taking care of His creatures. Unfortunately, too often that imaginary connection becomes a nuisance rather than a joy, and I am inside collapsed on the couch watching strange and unedifying shows on TLC. So that's been my reality. It probably takes about 5-7 minutes to water the flowers, yet I don't, and I pile on the guilt as my flowers and good intentions dry out and die around me. I should just give up and say I'm not a gardener, right?
And as an intelligent reader, I'm sure you can gather this tendency is permeating other far more crucial areas of my life in far more devastating ways.
Jesus struggled with the nature of His calling in a garden, as well. His struggle had very little to do with the garden itself and whether or not He should quit trying to take care of it. Jesus had the power to speak to the plants and give them life or make them wither. Instead, Jesus pursued His Father's heart to understand if He should really go to the cross for sinners. Jesus' aim while on earth was to plant a very different kind of garden, comprised of souls who would bloom in the Kingdom of Heaven. There was no doubt of His love for us all at the moment, just a doubt if the cross (and all the suffering included) really was the only way to save us and secure our roots in that Heavenly Garden. I would look for a way out, too. I would've run away, for as much as I like to frame myself "McFearless." My plants would've dried out and blown away.
If you read the Gospel accounts, you will find that Jesus received virtually no support from his friends (who found the garden a comfy place to drift off into sleep rather than prayer -- these guys remind me so much of myself it's scary), but He did receive an angel from heaven who strengthened Him (Luke 22:43). There is no recorded answer of yes or no from God. Just encouragement to stay the course. Jesus was doing the right thing. He did not falter when the accusations and the weapons began to land their Holy Target.
Just to think of Him today, praying in that garden, and asking me to consider the lilies of the field, gives me encouragement not to give up. I will not give up on my garden, though I may need to bury a few casualties. I will not give up on my place in life: working, learning, waiting. I will not give up on myself, or think that because I fail repeatedly I am not growing closer to the heart of Christ. Every time I fail, I glory in His perfection. Every time I am weak, I marvel at His strength. And I know that He held to His course for me, and for the people I love.
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." (Matt 6:28-33)
* * * *
- my Father who forgives my failure to tend the flowers.
- my Brother who went to the death for me.
- health insurance.
- a strong, healthy body.
- two jobs full of fun, vibrant coworkers.
- my plans for my life falling through all over the place, to my benefit.
- home away from home and family away from family in the form of a friend named Michael who would work for me on his day off so I can stay home and rest my aching throat.
- Coconut the cat.
- a car that can get me to other states, like Little Rock, Arkansas this past weekend.
- the privilege of witnessing the wedding celebration of Stacey and Justin Breezeel!
- a long weekend off work before 6 days in a row.
- the peace of knowing that Jesus is helping me unfold the mystery of discovering my true calling in life.