Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I love flowers, flowers of all kinds. I love to plant the seeds or bulbs and wait expectantly for the first signs of growth. Some flowers won’t bloom the first year, some bloom right away. Some need very moist soil with lots of mulch around the stems, others prefer to grow in moss, yet still some need very little soil and can even grow on the sides of trees or in rocky outcroppings. It’s actually amazing to study flowers and see how varied they really are and how different the situations that they can grow in are.

There is even one rare flower called the Titan Arum or Corpse Flower that only blooms every 6-10 yrs. The bloom will only last 48 hrs. It can grow to heights of 12 feet and have a bloom that is 5 feet in diameter. It is called the Corpse Flower because of the stench it gives off: it smells like rotting flesh. Needless to say not many people would want one in their garden. The Titan Arum will spend years growing it’s root system underground. All of the nutrients it collects from the soil go directly to the huge tuber root, which can grow to 170 lbs. It lives at the edge of the rain forest so it always has good soil and plenty of water to nourish it. It actually has what we would call an ideal place to grow and yet the only flower that comes from these idyllic surroundings smells like rotting flesh.

On the other hand, in the Arctic, where the landscape is desolate and the conditions are far from ideal for any living thing, over 1500 species of flowers survive and bloom. The growing season is short; the temperatures are low with frequent freezes followed by quick thaws. The soil is shallow and often has no nutrients at all. However in this harsh environment the flowers will squeeze out any nutrient that is available and despite the hard circumstances they find themselves in, they will still bloom and create seeds to make sure there will be even more flowers the next season.

As Christians we sometimes find ourselves in rather rocky circumstances. Things just aren’t going good. This is our chance to decide whether we are going to bloom anyway or are we going to give in to the harsh environment we are in and refuse to bloom. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through difficult times to test us. He wants to see if we will rely on Him to see us through or if we will rely on ourselves, or worse yet, just give up.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:20
“lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He has promised in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

When we find ourselves in difficult situations we need to remember that we are not alone. We can not only survive but we can actually flourish and bloom. When Job was tested, by Satan, he could have given up. His best friends blamed him for the situation he found himself in and his darling wife didn’t have any encouragement for him at all.

Job 2:9 “And his wife said to him, Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Yet Job chose to persevere and hang on to God. He chose to bloom and retain his integrity.

Job 1:21 “And he said, I came naked out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away. Blessed be the name of Jehovah.”

In all of his trouble Job still did not blame God or sin.

Job 1:22 “In all this Job did not sin, nor charge God foolishly.”
Even when he had lost everything, his family, wealth, his position in the community, he still chose to praise God! This certainly was the right thing to do. We see at the end of Job’s story that the Lord blessed him for his faithfulness with more than he had had before.

Job 42:12 “And Jehovah blessed the latter days of Job more than the beginning.”

How many times do we choose to praise God instead of blame Him when things go wrong? How many times do we look at our situation as being something temporary and choose to bloom despite the circumstances?

How do we bloom? How do we flourish? We bloom when we honor God with everything we say and do, no matter where we find ourselves. Maybe it’s not what you would have chosen for your life but maybe it is where God wants you to be for right now. So try to see the good in it. Try to see what God wants you to learn from this situation and choose to bloom.

I know I have said the word ‘choose’ quite a bit. That is intentional. We can choose to be a blessing to others or we can choose to be like the Titan Arum or Corpse Flower. It takes and takes and takes from the soil around it and gives very little in return. It’s root grows to 170 lbs! With only one flower to show every 6-10 yrs even though it has an ideal living situation.

I’m sure you have seen Christians like the Corpse Flower. They seem to have everything going for them. They have a roof over their head, they’re healthy, they have a job and a family, yet they choose to complain about everything around them. They won’t get involved in church but they will certainly tell everyone around them how they are doing things wrong. They choose to discourage others instead of encourage them.

Once every few years they will bloom for a short time just like the Titan Arum. But their bloom will smell like rotting flesh. They will do ministry for all the wrong reasons. They will want to get connected in the church and they will want to please God but the bloom quickly fades when they realize that we cannot just take and take and take, we are to give like Christ gave. We are to lay aside our own wants and needs for the wants and needs of others, like Christ did.

You see the Titan Arum, has no reason to complain, it grows in idyllic conditions, yet it still does by not blooming every year. The little Arctic flowers on the other hand, grow in very hard conditions and yet they bloom every year to please their Creator.

The Apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 4:11-13
Php 4:11 Not that I speak according to need, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am.
Php 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. In everything and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

If we can learn to think like Paul and Job thought then we will truly bloom where we are planted. We will flourish and honor God in everything we say and do.

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