I was checking my emails recently when the words ‘Bloom where you’re planted’ popped up in the subject line of one message. It immediately jumped out at me as I’ve been exercising my green fingers in our school garden with some very willing volunteers. We’ve had highs and lows; from when our early seedlings were killed by a late frost, to seeing the fruit of our labour as our vegetables begin to grow.
Before we started growing anything, we had to remove the weeds and wildflowers that had taken root in the planter. Once we’d done this, we began to sow seeds and plant seedlings. What I hadn’t realised was how deep the roots of some of these wildflowers went, and how inadequately we had pulled them out in the first place. Even now, as the vegetables are flourishing, we have to weed out the wildflowers so that they don’t choke the vegetable plants. Every time our gardening club meets, I have to help the children discern what is weed and what is vegetable plant before they dig everything up in their eagerness to keep our vegetable patch tidy. How like real life that is! When we try to muddle through life on our own, we can make our own plans and potentially miss what God has for us, inadvertently pulling up the good things that God wanted to plant and nurture in us. Proverbs 16:9 tells us, ‘In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.’ We need an expert gardener to teach us what needs to remain planted, and what needs to be pulled up and discarded. Thankfully for us, we have an expert gardener and the Holy Spirit to help us discern.
John 15:1-8 says, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory,that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.’
The word ‘bloom’ reminded me to seek to thrive in my current position, not just survive. It encouraged me to strive to live my own life to the full, and not try to emulate someone else’s life, or bloom where someone else is planted. When I thought about the word ‘planted’, it spoke of God’s intentionality and his power; that he knows exactly where we are, and what we are facing. Nothing surprises him. In Isaiah 22:22, we read, ‘I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.’ We also learn that, like Esther, he has placed us, ‘for such a time as this.’ Being planted also spoke of being deeply rooted in God, and knowing that where all else fails, we can trust him because he is steadfast.
For me, reading the line, ‘Bloom where you’re planted’ tied in with finding a playing card lying on the pavement whilst walking home the other day. It spoke to me about using the cards you’re dealt in life, about not waiting until everything is perfect before you start moving into what God has for you. You may not have a great hand, but God can use what you have for great things. The playing card that I found on the floor had been discarded or misplaced by someone else, but it became my treasure, in that, it taught me a lesson.
When our plans don’t go how we want them to, it’s easy to give up, or want to give up, but God wants to use our mess for someone else’s good. The saying, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ came to mind as I thought about writing this. Sometimes God wants to use your pain to help someone else; what we would happily throw away is exactly what God would use to speak through. When we look in the bible, we can see that time and time again God used people’s pain for good. He did it with Hannah, with Esther, with Abraham and Sarah and he did it with his own son, when he allowed Jesus to die on the cross as a sacrifice for each and every one of us.
I keep coming across tangled, weed-like undergrowth with beautiful flowers blooming within them, which truly reinforces that message of ‘bloom where you are planted’ for me. I feel like God would say, ‘It’s no accident where you are today. Bloom and be the sweet smelling fragrance wherever you are, for however long you are there, whether it’s where you would have chosen or not.’
Recently, when my plans fell through, I was annoyed, but the more I thought about it, I began to be encouraged to wonder what God wants to do in and through me here and now. It doesn’t mean I won’t move in the future, but for the meantime, for reasons I don’t yet know or understand, God wants me right where I am.
Psalm 33:11 says, ‘But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.’