Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bloom Where You Are Planted

A few summers back, a close friend made the announcement that she and her family were called to become foreign missionaries. She had been telling our little group for a while that she and her husband felt that God wanted them in full-time ministry, but I don't think anyone expected it to be that! Still, we all felt very proud of our dear friend, and excited for the adventure she was setting out on with God's leading.
In those early months, the biggest struggle for her was actually being "stuck"; it was too early to start the process of applications, downsizing, or really any preparations at all. She knew what God wanted her to do, but for the time being she needed to just stay put and be faithful. She was in a season of waiting, and it was not easy! I remember her bringing up a quote later on that really spoke to her and felt like God's instructions for the time being: "bloom where you are planted." 

My friend took that encouragement to heart and strove to really live it out in her season of waiting. God wanted her to become a full-time missionary, yes; but for the moment, He wanted her to stay faithful in what He already had for her as a wife, homeschool mama, friend, and youth group leader at her church; to not just survive the waiting period but to prosper, produce beauty, mature, and become all that He intended before she left. 
Maybe some of you are in a time of waiting like my friend was. Maybe you feel "stuck", wanting to move forward into the next season, but are called to stay right where you are for now. If so, here is some encouragement for how you can "bloom" where you are planted.

Stop fighting the Gardener. The first thing to do if you want to bloom is to let God plant you. Stop fighting Him, and trust that He has you exactly where He wants you. Any good gardener knows exactly where to put each flower or plant--what kind of soil to use, the right balance of sun and shade, and the correct access to just enough water (but not too much). If fallible human gardeners are wise enough to do that, how much more can the Heavenly Gardener find the right place for each of us? In His infinite wisdom, God has placed you where you are in order to do the most work; let Him plant you. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)
Trust the Gardener for Nourishment. I realize seeds don't have feelings or thoughts, but let's imagine for a minute what it's like to be one: stuck in the cold ground, covered with dirt, and left in darkness for weeks. Not a very fun experience, right? Likewise, being "planted" in life can feel dark and scary...even hopeless. Sometimes it seems like nobody sees you, faithfully plugging away under the surface, and you long to be able to show forth the beauty God has promised to reveal. Sometimes the weight of the dirt and rocks feels crushing, and you don't know if you will be able to even push through to the surface when the time comes. Yet the ever-faithful Gardener is there, providing all you need to grow, sprout, and eventually blossom. Trust Him to give you what you need, and hold onto the hope that everything He does will lead to your triumphant blooming. "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
Bloom for the Gardener! It's always fun and exciting as winter ends and spring begins to start seeing little green shoots popping up out of the ground. Those mini green markers signal the start of something so beautiful and hopeful! How disappointing would it be, though, if they just stayed tiny green sprouts and never grew and bloomed into the flowers we are so eager to see? Once you get through that initial stage of being planted--when things start to look up, the "soil" isn't so hard to push through, and you begin to see some light and hope again, don't stop there. It's time to show forth all of that potential and beauty and growth! Just like the definition above explains, to bloom means to mature, to reach your full potential where you're at, to flourish, to glow. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16, NKJV) There is nothing as satisfying, amazing, and beautiful as a person living in devotion to God. Do it in such a way that others see your beauty and are drawn back to the ever-faithful Gardener who planted you and cared for you in the first place.

It's been almost two years now since my precious friend had to learn to "bloom where she was planted", and now the time has come for her to be "transplanted". Within the next 2 months, my friend and her family will sell their home and the majority of their possessions, move into an RV, and leave everything they have grown to love in order to fulfill the beautiful calling God has given them. For a while they will travel the country to raise the money they need to start their ministry, and then they will board a plane to travel to their new home in Ecuador, where I know they will not just bloom, but will absolutely blossom for our Wonderful Gardener.

Well done, Emily. What a beautiful "blossom" you have been in my life, and the lives of everyone you have touched while planted here. Thank you for being such an awesome example of blooming where you are planted. 

To stay up-to-date on my friend and her family's amazing journey, follow their blog at https://ecuador-bound.com/

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