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Monday, November 15, 2010

Bloom Where You're Planted

The title of this post is a cliche, telling us to find a way to thrive, or at least to have something to show for ourselves, even in less than ideal circumstances.  I've practiced this before, and I'll have to do so again, but frankly, I'm not very good about being happy while "blooming where I'm planted."  I wonder if anyone is, really.

So, how do we "bloom where we're planted"?  What exactly are we supposed to do while we're "waiting in the tent for the cloud to move," as someone put it to me, yesterday?  I've been thinking about this a lot, and I thought I'd put together a few things the Bible demonstrates that we should do in these lull times in our lives, when nothing is changing and we desperately want change.

The Tent Dweller's To-Do List

  • Build up spiritual muscle.--Many kings in the Bible, including David and Solomon, built up fortifications and alliances during times of peace and prosperity in Israel.  Was it because they were bored and looking for something to do with all of the tax money they were collecting?  Of course not!  They were taking the opportunity of peaceful (or at least, mundane) times to prepare for turbulent days ahead.  If life has become predictable, we should use these times to work on our knowledge of the Bible and our understanding of God's laws and plans.  When something unsettling happens, we will find that we are stronger than we once were, and we will not be too "spiritually flabby" to handle it.
  • Remember God's past miracles.--Let's face it.  Human beings are quick to forget the happy times in the past when they are going through a trial in the present.  The Israelites saw countless miracles while they were traveling through the desert, but they often forgot them soon after.  If we want to thrive in the "desert places," we cannot do so while dwelling on the things that make us feel discontented or defeated.  Instead, we should make it a habit to remind ourselves of the good things God has already done for us.  He is "mighty to save" (Isaiah 63: 1 NIV)!  Can we patiently wait for Him?
  • Look for God's presence.--God has done spectacular things for us in the past, but does that mean He has abandoned us in the present circumstances?  Of course not!  In lull times, we need to develop the skill of seeing God's hand in our present lives.  He may not be parting the Red Sea at the moment, but today He brought the sunshine or the rain, He gave us breath and made our hearts beat, and so on and so forth.  Just learning to see this will renew our strength to press on.
  • Spend time listening in God's living room.--When I was small, my Sunday school teacher taught us about the time Jesus came to Mary and Martha's house for dinner.  I pictured Jesus sitting on my couch, talking, Mary sitting in one of the arm chairs, and clattering sounds of dishes in the background as Martha worked in the kitchen around the corner.  Of course, it probably didn't happen that way, but the picture is good.  When we are "stuck" in our present life circumstances, maybe we should take a moment to sit down, block out the noise and worries in the background, and just give our full attention to God.  How would He answer if we asked Him, "What do you want me to learn today?"
  • Develop a habit of praise.--I recently spoke about how the Israelites went to battle praising God, and discovered when they arrived that the battle had already been fought on their behalf ("Our Eyes Are Upon You").  It may not always happen that way for us, but it is always good to actively praise God.  Praising Him, even when we don't feel like it, reminds us of how praiseworthy He is.  That, in turn, revives us.  We have an awesome God in our lives, and He is with us always.  Isn't that enough reason to endure our present circumstances?  Furthermore, isn't it enough reason to rise above them?
  • Stay busy with the tasks before you.--That job you now find boring, that class you are taking, or that round of pills the doctor prescribed are currently part of your life, whether they make you feel happy or not.  Could it be that you are facing this trial of patience or diligence now so you can prove to God that you can handle bigger challenges later?  Consider the Parable of the Bags of Gold (Matthew 25: 14-30).  What can you produce for God out of the mundane tasks you must do today?  If nothing else, you can prove that you are capable of relying on God for your strength, so that you can do what has been asked of you?
These are some points to ponder, today.  Here's a related verse I want to share before I go:
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6: 8, 9 NIV)
Today, let us keep sowing to please the Spirit, even if we don't see any changes (or results) coming up just yet.  As always, your comments are welcome.  Meanwhile, this is me, reminding you to stay savvy!