Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them. Liberty Hyde Bailey
I didn’t just believe that I had a black thumb, I had confirmed it…time and TIME again. You probably think that I’m exaggerating, but it’s a well documented fact. Have you ever had someone take a plant AWAY from you? Yes, that has happened to me (and not just once.) I was a cold-blooded plant killer and I’m not proud of it. I wanted to be able to grow things, I really did. I potted, watered, and adjusted for sunlight and shade. I wasn’t above asking for help, checking out library books and looking up tips on the internet. It just wasn’t my knack and, honestly…hey, I was cool with that. But for some unknown reason, people kept giving me plants (I think that happens when you move as often as we have…let’s face it, a plant is a pretty safe “welcoming” gift.) In defense of these plant-bearing gift givers, I realize that you all had no idea what these little green treasures were in store for once they were under my care 🙂
Fast forward several years and while I’m certainly no green thumb, I’m not quite the plant killing queen that I used to be. So, I still can’t grow ANYTHING from a seed, but I have managed to keep three plants alive (and mostly thriving.) One plant has actually been around for nearly five years and I’m proud to report that it has somehow managed to survive three repotting stints as well. (Yes, it’s the little things.) In fact, I actually purchased a plant (my first time) just last month and so far…well, so good. I think my mother-in-law would be so surprised and my mom, well I’m sure she can just hardly believe it’s true! (The black thumb thing runs in the family.)
Thinking about this shift in my gardening abilities reminds me of another change in my life. This one pertaining to my faith in God. While I’ve been a believer just about as long as I can remember, I was never really comfortable sharing that faith. To be honest, I didn’t know how. As a kid I can remember occasionally going to church, however, I really didn’t have any formal faith upbringing. Despite all this, I considered myself a hard-core, pint-size prayer warrior (and I’m not even sure that was a term at the time.) I prayed about anything and everything. My overactive imagination, news junkie status (even as a kid) and an overwhelming realization that we lived in a broken and scary world would occupy my thoughts from the time my head hit the pillow until dawn. So often I found peace and comfort in prayer and somehow knew that there was a great, big God out there who loved and cared about me.
In time, those little prayers eventually turned into a desire to read the Bible…which gets easier once you learn how to read and possess a vocabulary. By the time I was in high school I was working on reading the Bible all the way through. I would read one chapter a night before bed–and I don’t think anyone ever knew. I really didn’t talk about it. I just did it. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t understand much of what I read. I just felt called to do it. And when I finished, I started over. Look, I’m no theological scholar and I certainly didn’t consider myself holier than my teenage counterparts. All I know is that the more I learned about God, the more my love for Him continued to grow.
I wish I could say that my Bible reading led me into church as a young adult. It didn’t. Of course, I did do a lot of praying in college…it WAS college after all!!! I had tests to pray for, temptations to avoid, friends who needed help, and then of course there was safety and an entire crazy world out there to worry about. I think in some ways my desire to get into journalism was a love for writing tied into an off shoot of a faith that I was trying to figure out. My end goal in my pursuit to become a reporter was always to make the world a better place. I wholeheartedly believe that knowledge is power. I thought if we could just gain an awareness for the people in our neighborhoods, community and world that we would all have our hearts transformed–we could BE BETTER and DO BETTER. Little did I know that this warm stirring that I so desperately wanted to impart on the hearts of others was in line with a desire to share with the planet the God that I was coming to know.
My faith journey goes on from there, but those early years–the faith planting years–came to mind today as I watered and tended to my plants. Now, I look forward to attending church every Sunday (actually I’m something of a church nerd as I love visiting new churches whenever I can.) I also love being a ministry volunteer and a pastor’s wife. I continue to read and pray and discover more ways to draw closer to God. I often thank God for putting people in my life to inspire and encourage me to pursue this faith. What I once kept guarded and close to my heart, I now openly talk about. I’m not afraid to share what I know about God. In fact, I feel called to talk about Him often…especially with young people. I remind them (and myself) that it takes time to develop and foster any kind of worthwhile relationship. The same if true with faith. The world won’t know about our awesome Creator, if someone (you? me?) doesn’t share it with them. I still wholeheartedly believe knowledge is power. And if faith and following Jesus is the most powerful choice we can make in our lifetime, I want every person to have that option.
I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to have my children grow up in the church. Faith planted…I see their early development (and that of their peers) tended to by good men and women whose lives serve as living testimonies to faith in a mighty God and who desire nothing more than the same for my kiddos and others. In this season of my life, this is where I focus my attention. What a blessing it is to witness a child’s heart discovering God for the first time. Connecting with a young person and letting them know that there is a Creator who loves them. Sharing scripture and Bible lessons with new believers and fostering the kind of environment that says there is so much more out there for each of us. Seeing Christ’s love influence the thoughts and actions in so many young ones…well, it takes my breath away.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have an opportunity or even the ability to share and witness faith like this. I didn’t think I was capable or qualified. I didn’t think I could GROW into that person. God had a better idea and I really can’t wait to see what blooms as a result.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 The Message