“…accept their lot and be happy in their toil — this is a gift of God.”
—Ecclesiastes 5:19b NIV
Like a tender gardener, God nurtures His plants.
With a little fertilizer of the Word here, and a little water of the Spirit there. Here a trim. There a nudge. Everywhere an encouraging admonition.
Always gently, but sometimes relentlessly.
When I hear something 2 or 3 times (Matthew 18:16) in a short timeframe, I take it seriously. But 5 times in a matter of days!? Then I know it’s God trying to speak to me!
First, I was starting to feel, somewhere down on the inside, that I should cut back on my pursuits, that I was trying to do too much and needed learn to bloom where I was planted.
Then, Adventures of a Busy Mom posted about counting our blessings within our frustrations, of drawing near to God and submitting to Him rather than trying to handle stress in our own strength.
As if she hadn’t done enough already, she followed up the next day with a continuation emphasizing to never grumble. Instead, in the midst of a difficult situation, find things in it to be thankful for. (1 Corinthians 10:10)
Harvesting Hecate, with gorgeous descriptions of summer, and drawing writerly life lessons from the cycle of seasons, provided my next timely lesson: enjoy the brief delights when they come. But don’t despair the times of preparation in between.
And now for the kicker…
I like to set my iPod to random, but not with music only. I like to mix in additional selections, things like exemplary writing samples, Spanish practices, and quotes. In this same vein, I include chapters from several versions of audio Bibles. It’s amazing how often the exact verse I need to hear will play in the supposedly random mix.
And today was one of those times:
“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift!”
Alright God. I get it.
Thanks to these divinely appointed nudges, I now realize that many of my pursuits were my own ideas of how to garner a career change rather than a true passion to pursue. I was getting frustrated with my employer and I wanted something better. But discontentment is never a good reason to run away from something. It’s better to face your challenges. In this case, if I wasn’t happy with where I was and with what I had, just a change of scenery wouldn’t make me happy. If I couldn’t find happiness and contentment inside myself, I would just be exchanging one set of problems for a different set.
The grass may look greener at a different company, but it’s probably harder to mow!
The pursuit of other dreams wasn’t the problem, it was that I was trying to do too much. Since I hadn’t decided on a specific dream to focus on, I was desperately trying every possibility I could think of. In other words, I was trusting only in myself — in my own limited strength and with my own imperfect wisdom — when I should have been trusting God, in His power and in His guidance. I don’t need to fight this battle. If I put my trust in Him, He will fight the battle for me (II Chronicles 20:17)
I needed to quit trying to change things on my own and trust in God to bring the change in His time and in His way.
It’s like the seed that must die before it can grow and blossom into what it is meant to be (John 12:24):
First, there must be a death — of the fruit, of the bloom, or of the plant — for the seed to be released.
The seed is then planted, buried in the earth, where it finds peace, resting in the strength, comfort, and support of the soil that entombs it.
Gentle rains from the clouds above fall and seep into its grave, softening it, nurturing it, bringing it life from somewhere that is not of itself. It resurrects, sprouting, green and vibrant. It has been raised from the dead!
And with that new life, it grows, sunlight giving it strength as the soil supports and nourishes it.
Until, finally, it blooms. Always beautifully.
But none of this would have happened if it hadn’t died first.
So what does this mean to me?
I will die to self so I can live to Him.
I choose to surrender to Him. To trust Him that He knows what’s best for me.
Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I won’t still pursue my dreams. I’ll still work hard. I won’t be afraid of change. Neither will I get wimpy and just accept every negative thing that comes into my life without a fight.
But I am going to follow His plan for my life rather than my own ideas. What I do will be by His leading. I will fight in His strength rather than my own.
I have bloomed into a better person with a better attitude.
Hmm… Die to myself in order to bloom where I’m planted. Conjures images of the Corpse Flower, doesn’t it?
Image courtesy of Wikicommons.
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