Reflections by Dot Cutter — September 2019
It had been an incredibly cold, rainy spring this year, keeping my views of our gardens largely distant. I’d stand at our backdoor gazing wistfully across the backyard wondering what, if anything, was emerging from the long winter’s dormancy. Access to work in those gardens was limited and infrequent. Then as August approached it became quite a different story. In addition to plants whose blooming I eagerly awaited were those that had “rewarded” me with more than I ever expected or wanted. It all began with a very small clump of Queen Anne’s Lace, dug from the roadside a few years ago. I had always admired its delicate, lacy structure, with blooms that waved in the summer’s breezes. How I wanted some in our garden as I envisioned them complimenting brilliant red Monarda and golden yellow Black-eyed Susans. The first two years they struggled to even survive but, last summer, my diligent tending of them was rewarded. There was that neat clump of delicate, lacy white blossoms I’d been wanting! Finally they were thriving!
However, that is only half the story. They have not only thrived, they everlastingly multiplied. I had neglected to research how they behave or propagate. This summer I have found out! I have several areas where dense seedlings germinated, invading and crowding out other perennials I dearly wanted. They were not at all content to grow obediently alongside my other garden beauties. No, indeed; they were all for taking over. I now realize why they are categorized as wildflowers. And my job of reclaiming my garden and rescuing plants that respect boundaries better is quite the labor intensive challenge. Fortunately, I heeded my brother-in-law’s admonition against transplanting another alluringly beautiful purple wildflower that is highly invasive or I might have double trouble. Neither will I succumb to the temptation of importing that lovely periwinkle blue chicory. Instead I content myself with a few stems in a vase.
So I now have the opportunity to activate a dandy little verse of scripture that says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1: 2,3). I love it when the Lord takes an ordinary run-of-the-mill event in my life and shows me a spiritual application or parallel. It’s sort of like my very own modern day parable on a small scale.
We ought to be careful and discerning regarding what we pursue. The world is filled with things that whet our appetites and tempt us into arenas that God lovingly sets His barrier around. God’s boundaries are never meant to deprive us of something good, but to redirect us to what He has purposed for us in furthering His kingdom on the earth. Indeed, there are those things which all of us are forbidden to partake in, but equally detrimental are those things we desire that are not designated for us. When we envy what someone else has or is doing, and hanker to replicate that, we hinder our receiving what the Holy Spirit has specifically ordained for us. In essence, we become a square peg attempting to pound ourselves into a round hole. Instead, He has apportioned to each of us a unique combination of giftings, talents, personalities, and opportunities. We need to embrace those and seek Him for wisdom as to how to use them wisely. For when they are properly used and combined with those of other people, a spiritual synergism emerges that is powerfully effective.
We might well feel more fulfilled and effective in advancing God’s kingdom if we actively sought His wisdom for the small as well as the large decisions of life. We all lack wisdom, which James addresses in verse 5 when he says, “Ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach.” Isn’t it freeing to know we aren’t bothering God? And we are to ask without doubting, for doubt speaks of a divided allegiance between faith and hopelessness, between sincerely wanting to know God’s will and wanting to pursue our own course. The wisdom we seek is not intellectual knowledge or philosophical speculation, but spiritual understanding of the purpose of trials. When we embrace God’s perspective in our trials we set ourselves on course for spiritual growth. We are then less likely to be tasked with removing undesirables from our spiritual gardens but can instead produce a fragrant and beautiful bouquet. What vast improvements we can reap!