Bloom Where You’re Planted

Here in America, as in other western countries, we  expect life to be relatively easy and when things don’t go our way it feels like something’s wrong or like we’re not blessed.     That feeling can cast us into defeat and fear; it can disable our gifts and talents, and can keep us from fulfilling our purpose in life.  Instead of growing in the midst of trouble, we dry up and wither.

A long time ago, I heard a missionary talk about his prison experience in China.  His daily job for years, was to stand deep in human waste and shovel it out of a pit.  You would think the missionary would have died from infection or some horrible disease but guess again…he thrived in the stinking, putrid, filth and lived to tell the story.  At first he wondered why God would allow such a terrible situation; after all, wasn’t it sacrifice enough that he was in prison for his faith?  The answer to that question came  when it occurred to him that God was  blessing him in that putrid job and that comprehension  birthed a huge attitude change.  In that prison no one was allowed to worship or spend time in prayer and if a guard caught you praying or singing, a beating was certain. In the missionary’s cesspool job,  guards stayed far away because of the terrible smell.  The missionary was free to sing and pray all he wanted and the time he spent with God restored his soul.  He referred to his unimaginable job as working in his “garden” and said that he looked forward to it each day.  The song he sang most often while shoveling in the pit was the old hymn, “The Garden.”  He stood at the podium and sang from the depths of his soul… “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, His voice to me discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own and the joy we share while we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

When trials seem like a prison, when our plans and hopes are dashed, when we feel like we’re standing in a cesspool, is it possible for us to see it as a garden?   Can we bloom and grow rather than wither and die when life turns upside down?  Can we open our hearts and minds enough to see our garbage  as a hiding place where we worship the Lord from the depths of our soul; a place where we cry out to Him and pray without ceasing; a place where we trust God completely.
With total confidence I can say that when we reach that place of rest and faith and when we truly die to ourselves, God ALWAYS shows up in a miraculous way and the very things that should have crushed us will actually cause us to grow and make us better than ever before.


God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts so I am reminding myself today that life doesn’t need to be my way, that life doesn’t have to be perfect, and that God’s path is rarely the shortest distance between two points.  It usually meanders and hits all sorts of pitfalls and even cesspools but, if we allow Him, He will use every step of the way for great good and for His glory and we will bloom wherever we are planted.

Blessings to you!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

THE GARDEN BY CHARLES A MILES

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear
Falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share while we tarry there
None other has ever known.

He speaks and the sound of his voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Tho the night around me be falling
But He bids me go thru the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share while we tarry there
None other has ever known.

Acceptance With Joy

Recently I read the wonderful Christian book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, and found it very insightful.  The book is about a disfigured and lame woman named Much-Afraid who chooses to trust in the promises of the Shepherd (God) even when they seem unattainable.  The Shepherd promises Much-Afraid that one day she will no longer be crippled but will have Hind’s Feet and live on The High Places with him.  Much-Afraid desperately wants a new life and is overcome with joy and anticipation for that day.  However, the journey to The High Places requires Much-Afraid to travel through terrifying and desolate lands while battling her old enemies Resentment, Pride, Bitterness, and Self-Pity.

One of the terrifying and desolate lands Much-Afraid journeys through is a desert that is not only unpleasant but in the opposite direction of The High Places promised to her.  She is filled with discouragement and fears she will never reach the promised High Places.  Taking the situation into her own hands Much-Afraid says to her companions, “The Shepherd has called me to High Places.  We must find some path which goes up, but certainly not down there.  This is an absolute contradiction of all that he promised.”

Have you ever been there at the edge of a desert saying “Lord this is all wrong, I’m your child and you promised to take care of me?  This isn’t what you promised; my life is supposed to be different.”  I have,
and like Much-Afraid I was sure the path I was on was wrong.  But it wasn’t the path that was wrong; it was my attitude and perception of the situation.

Much-Afraid was overcome with discouragement and felt being in the desert was a sign that the Shepherd would not keep his promises.  In desperation she calls out to the Shepherd to come and help her, and he does.  The Shepherd comforts her with his presence and teaches her about the necessary work accomplished in all his followers while they cross the desert.  It is significant that the Shepherd didn’t remove her from the desert but comforted her during her journey.  With His loving guidance Much-Afraid learns to accept the desert and finds beauty in the dry and desolate land.

One unexpected item of beauty Much-Afraid found in the desert is a solitary flower growing up from a crack in the rocks where a trickle of water dripped down from above.  Upon seeing the flower she asked if it had a name; the flower answers, “Acceptance with Joy”.   That is the lesson we need to learn.  How to accept with joy the path God has placed before us even when it appears to be heading in the wrong direction.  How wonderful it would be to grow like the little flower, even when we are in a desert, finding our sustenance in the Shepherd’s living water and accepting our situations with joy. 

God allows us to go through deserts so we can grow spiritually.  Deserts give us an opportunity to battle with our pride, self-pity, resentment, and bitterness, along with our self-created images of what our life should be like and lay them down at God’s feet.  Yes, it is painful but the outcome is beautiful.

Debora Shelford Hobbs