"Bloom where you are planted"
~Attributed to all of the following sources: Afghan Proverb, Nancy Reader Compion's Aunt Grace, Mary Engelbreit, a song, as well as an "old garden saying"~
This week's delightful discovery is a continuation of last Sunday's post based on the old saying, "Bloom where you are planted". We have seen this old saying painted on garden plaques and heard it preached in sermons. I saw the truth of this principal played out before my very eyes in recent weeks.Walking down a sidewalk while in town I happened upon a very green lush plant with glowing yellow blossoms bursting forth from its center. The first thing I noticed was that it was an odd place for anything to be growing. The tiny crack from which it sprung did not allow much room for growth. It was not in a nutrient rich environment, in fact, it was in a hard and sun scorched place. In spite of all the adverse circumstances surrounding its growth, it was persistent in finding some small bit of nourishment for one tiny seed that allowed it to take root, begin to grow, spread out, bloom, and eventually, to sow seeds. Did you know that the meaning of the dandelion is faithfulness?
In the second instance I was walking across my yard where some soil had been freshly spread to fill in a hole. Right on top of the soil lay a perfect yellow bloom of a daffodil, with the bulb completely exposed, and tiny roots reaching downward. This bulb was in a very unlikely place also. I wondered how it got there because I had not planted any of these bulbs in years. There was not much of a root system to speak of, yet here was this beautiful perfect flower blooming in spite of unfavorable conditions. Did you know that the meaning of the daffodil is joy and happiness and signifies rebirth or a new beginning?In the third instance I was walking past the old stone well house and much to my delight I saw tiny soft yellow fingertip sized roses blooming on the Yellow Lady Banks Roses that I had planted there three years ago. Their story is another matter all together. When I bought those two plants at the nursery they were absolutely full of tiny roses. They were lovingly planted in the right kind of lighting, well attended, pruned, fertilized, watered, and protective mulch was spread around their roots to keep the moisture in the earth on hot sunny summer days. In spite of all the nurturing and care, they refused to bloom! Each spring I would become hopeful as a profusion of little green leaves would spread along the vines, this time they might bloom, but for three long years I coaxed them along and yet they still did not bloom where they were planted. Did you know the meaning of the yellow rose is unfaithfulness, infidelity, or decrease of love?
I asked myself, "Why is it that while the two plants in unfavorable circumstances thrived and the one who had every advantage merely survived, refusing to thrive?" After noting their differences, I noted their similarities, they all started from something small, a seed or bulb. They all needed soil, water, and sunlight to grow. They all began to show growth with new green leaves, progressing to tiny buds which resulted in glorious yellow blooms. The blooms provided nectar and pollen which were life giving and sustaining to others.
Each of these plants had both advantages and disadvantages and each one had a unique response to their particular set of circumstances. The dandelion had determination on her side. She is considered a common weed that is difficult to exterminate. The dandelion can thrive anywhere, lawns, fields, meadows, along roadsides, even in cracks of sidewalks. The dandelion has the ability to prosper no matter its surrounding.
This humble yet determined dandelion brings to mind chapter one of the book of Daniel. Daniel was a young man from a noble family, the tribe of Judah, who had everything going for him. He was a handsome young man who showed an aptitude of every kind of learning, was well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve. Because of his heritage and his attributes he found himself in adverse circumstances. He, along with some other young men from royal or noble families, were taken captive and forced to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians in order to be put in service in the palace of the king. These young men were not only taken from their families and familiar environment and customs, they were stripped of their very names and given new ones. They were assigned a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for a three year period and after that were to enter the king's service.
Like the dandelion, Daniel had the ability to thrive and prosper in the most unlikely of places, under extreme adverse circumstances. Daniel 1:8 says, "But, Daniel resolved..." another version says, "But, Daniel purposed in his heart..." not to be unfaithful to his beliefs. Daniel's resolve was to not defile himself with the food and wine from the king's table because it could have been offered to idols, which prohibited faithful Jews from eating it (Exodus 34:15). Also, Gentiles had probably prepared the food without attention to Jewish dietary laws, without which it would be unclean. The food could have included certain meats forbidden in the law of Moses. Did you notice Daniel's determination? Did you notice his faithfulness?
Like the dandelion, Daniel was planted in a restricted environment, with little room for opportunity for growth. He was not in a nutrient rich environment according to his dietary laws or spiritual beliefs. I am sure his captivity must have been a very hard and lonely time. Yet, in spite of his surroundings, Daniel bloomed where he was planted. He purposed in his heart and was persistent in finding small ways to cling to his roots of faith. His faithfulness was rewarded by God, who gave him "...knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds." (Daniel 1:17) When brought before the king, none were found equal to Daniel and the other three young men who taken captive with him. When questioned, the king found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. Daniel took root, began to grow, spread out, blossomed, and today his story still sows the seed of the example of faithfulness. Faithfulness helps us to flourish.
The daffodil laying there on bare ground, so exposed, striving to survive, yet blooming where it was planted with fragrant joy, made me think of the possibility of joy during trials and temptations. In the book of James, chapter one, verses 2-4 we see that we are to, "Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I was standing there observing a mature and complete bloom even though it was doing so in completely adverse growing conditions. How is joy possible when we find ourselves like that little daffodil, uprooted and toppled over by trouble? We are not talking about a feeling or an emotion here when we describe having joy during our trials. Instead, this describes a unique kind of joy, a deep sense of well-being that comes from knowing that God is in control of everything in our lives. This joy is the assurance that He is constantly at work, using both pain and pleasure to develop within us character traits of endurance and patience.Sometimes like that little daffodil, we feel like we are barely holding on by our roots. We might be wondering how we got in that particular predicament and why God is allowing it. A trial is a situation in which God is giving us an opportunity to do something right. Maybe make a right choice, a right decision, a right action or a right reaction. Trials often teach us a lesson and are a beautiful opportunity for a new beginning at the end of them.
The little daffodil was not unsupported, it lay on a foundation of rich fertile fill dirt and with the feeblest of reaches its root system clung to that nutrient rich support for all its life was worth. In clinging to God during our times of trouble, even if our reach is feeble, we will experience deep and abiding joy knowing that we are cradled in the palm of His hand and sustained by the rich nutrition of His Word. God's planting is not always our preference but joy can be our choice.
The Yellow Lady Banks is supposed to be extremely vigorous in growth, it is has no thorns, supposed to produce enormous trusses of yellow flowers, it is supposed to climb easily, to spread out, and be long lived. It is supposed to grow in a wide variety of conditions, be tolerant of poor soil, and unpalatable to deer. My Lady Banks were given every favorable condition I could provide them with. At one point they were lively and vibrantly blooming but they stopped.
Sometimes we just don't like where we have been planted and like my Yellow Lady Banks Roses we refuse to bloom or perhaps we have bloomed profusely for many seasons and we are experiencing a season of burnout. We, as believers, have much in common with the Lady Banks. We are to be vigorous in our spiritual growth (2 Peter 3:18), without thorns (Ephesians 4:29), blooming where we are planted by being fruitful (Colossians 1:10). We are to climb or make continuous progress (Isaiah 28:9-10), spread out (Matthew 28:18-20), and blessed with long life (John 3:16). Like the Lady Banks we are given ample opportunity to grow in a wide variety of conditions and taught to be tolerant of such poor soil we find ourselves planted in. (Psalm 34:19) We are also unpalatable to our enemy who seeks to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8-9 & John 10:27-29)
God lovingly plants us exactly where He wants us to bloom. (Psalm 139:14-16) He give us the right kind of light to grow by.(Psalm 119:105) He tends us well.(Psalm 32:8) We are pruned (Hebrews 6:12a), fertilized (1 Peter 2:2), watered and protected from drought (Isaiah 58:11), and covered in protective care. (Psalm 91) And still, with all that nurturing care we fail to bloom. He coaxes us along, we unfurl a little but do not produce those vibrant blooms that are life sustaining and nurturing to others. Perhaps we are waiting for God to replant us in a better circumstances. When we refuse to bloom where we are planted we become unfaithful not being true to duty, obligation, or promise and we are breaking away from God's growth plan for our lives.
Blooming where you are planted is a choice, a challenge, and often involves change. We might be planted in a demanding or stimulating situation that engages us in growth. Think about the similarities of these three plants. They all began as a tiny seed or bulb but it was never God's intention that they stay a seed or bulb, they had a purpose beyond that particular state. Once they were planted in soil a transformation began to take place. They began to move from one phase to another. They grew roots, then sprouts. Little green leaves began to show and stems began to strengthen. As they pushed upward, little by little they were permanently losing their former characteristics. Even as they endured all kinds of weather and temperatures they continued to progress until little buds arrived. One glorious day, each of them were mature and in full bloom with the ability to support and sustain others because of their transformation.
God is doing a transforming work in our hearts and lives right where we are, no matter the conditions or the outlook, I encourage you to accept His challenge, embrace His plan, and bloom where you are planted.