Looking for Growth

5-8-16

I am an impatient gardener. After I plant seeds I’m okay for about three days, and then I want to see sprouts. Earlier this spring, the crepe myrtle bushes that my grandmother gave me started to leaf out. It immediately turned cold with gusty wind. I couldn’t protect my bushes, and they froze.

I felt like an incompetent mother. I had been so hopeful that this year they would thrive, grow bigger than last year, and bloom beautifully. Then an uncaring frost zapped the life right out of them.

Nearly every day, I checked to see if the branches would have the will to send out a second round of leaves. I waited and waited until I was ready to despair and ask Momaw for forgiveness and the start of another bush. Hers started to leaf back out. Mine didn’t.

Then, one day just home from work, as I squatted in my scrubs with my purse and work bag threatening to topple me over, I saw it. Growth. But not how I expected. I wanted the branches the bush had already worked for last year to thrive. Instead, cheerfully sprouting from the ground, back from the roots apparently, popped the second generation of this bush.

I rocked back on my heels and gasped out loud. I know, I’m weird, but I really did. The growth I saw was already a couple inches tall. I had checked the bush every day, so how had a missed it? Then it hit me – I’d been looking in all the wrong places.

My plan wasn’t the bush’s plan, and so badly did I want my plan to work that I didn’t even look at any other possibilities. Sure, Mom had told me that the bush likely wasn’t totally dead and could come back from the roots. But that’s not what I had determined that mine would do.

Maybe that’s how we are. Sometimes maybe our plans get frozen back because there’s something better that God has waiting for us. At the time, we won’t see it. And maybe we won’t until we’re right in the middle of it. Maybe we sometimes lose hope first, but it will come. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” We can count on God. He never lets His people down. Other people might. The world might. But not God.

Sometimes, maybe we get impatient looking for growth in other people. I’ll sheepishly raise my hand on that one. I’ve done it. Remember I Corinthians 3:7 says, “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” No matter how much we try to help and work with someone, the outcome ultimately isn’t up to us. The credit for growth belongs to God. The one particular thing we want somebody to change in may not be the most important at the time, but we fixate on it to the point that that’s all we see. Let’s keep our eyes open.

We need to make sure that we continue to grow, even if it isn’t in the direction we first planned. In Hebrews 5:12, Paul says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” God does have expectations for His people. If we aren’t going forward then we are going backward. Nobody wants a bush that doesn’t have leaves. Mine about got pulled up.

Let’s challenge ourselves to grow in any way that God provides. Maybe it’s an opportunity to do something for the first time that has you scared stiff. Good. Do it. It means you’re not staying where you were. And let’s have patience with each other. While we do need to encourage each other and always be growing, let’s make sure that we don’t try to make our priorities God’s.

May the Lord bless and keep you,

Heather

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