Blooming in the Mire
Read any planters guide to successful flowers and you will see a long list of suggestions; ideal conditions, geographically matching plants to locations, watering, fertilizing, etc. I have yet to find one that says, find a sewage infested swamp and plant your favorites bush right beside it! If you have a black thumb like me, you can do all the suggestions and still manage to kill a plant. Which makes me even more aware of learning ideal conditions.
We as humans tend to be the same. We feel we blossom best when in ideal surroundings; ideal church, family and health, geographically matched to our preferences, watered regularly with encouragement by friends and supporters and fertilized with a prospering job and stock options. Take any of those away and we tend to feel our possibility to bloom and grow has been heinously ripped from our hands.
All of these comparisons came to mind as I drove out of our apartment complex in Kathmandu, Nepal. Now wipe away the picture you are forming in your mind about the apartment complex down the street, right off a suburban road or highway, surrounded by more family houses. God has blessed us with a lovely apartment with many blessings, like 24/7 electricity and water, plenty of places to park and a small patch of grass the kids can run around in. But the 360 view isn't what people from modern countries would expect. To the rear you see farmer fields and rustic houses, where they plow and sew almost year round and children on their days off play in the 2 ft rain puddles that form. To the right you see a hospital with heli-lift pad that is frequently used and the children run as the dust flies so that they can see this exciting occurrence. Straight ahead I see the other 6, 12 story apartment buildings surrounding mine.
And to the right is where my story begins. You exit the gate to the apartments and you see a brown and polluted stream flowing beside you as you exit. It's depths vary depending on the season and the stench is also regulated by the heat. It is inhabited by ducks that waddle through it daily as it discolors their beautiful God given colorful design. This has become a common sight for us. There is a small medal bridge with one hand rail that we and all the locals cross to reach the main road in shorter time. My daughter tentatively yet proudly crosses this 4 ft tall bridge on a regular basis. My usually reaction as I cross this way is, those poor ducks! Look at what they waddle around in everyday.
But a few weeks back we began our normal jaunt across the pond as I exited my apartment complex and something caught my eye. To my right, at the side of this brown and unlovely stream stood a tree whose foliage had grown quite wide during this last rainy season. It was a few yards wide and shading a large portion of one side of the stream. But what really caught my eye was the beautiful blossoms that flowered all over this tree. It was truly pretty. How did this happen? How did the beautiful creation develop in this unlikely place? It had bloomed in the mire.
My mind instantly flew to the correlation that tree had to life in generally and mine specifically. So many times you hear people quote their reasons for inability to grow; the pastor has too many faults, the messages aren't to my liking, life is too crazy, we have no money, so many other people are doing wrong, oh and the new favorite, the government is so Evil! But I have been blessed to see those in my life who have submitted to Gods unlikely and unattractive plan and have "Bloomed in the Mire".
My mind began reviewing my life. It is far from what others would call ideal. I've had so many people shake their heads and tell me wide eyed, "I could NOT do what you do." I do completely understand not understanding the grace that other people experience in trials we have never faced. I have heard the quote many times, "Grace Never comes early, but always when you need it." So, I totally understand not being able to fathom how others handle certain situations. To be honest I have the same feeling when I look at military families; Leaving their families for long stints and many times in dangerous situations. But, so many have done it with grace and growth! We all have our own burdens to bear. Each diligently weighed and prepared for us by the Lord. Each with the purpose of growing us closer to Christ then ever before, not ever meant to cripple us spiritually.
I think about how the mission field, the unlikely stage for comfortable living, has allowed me the opportunity on many many many occasions to either "Bloom in the Mire" or become bitter by the challenge. I have seen it result differently in so many stories. And I have taken each path myself at times. This beautiful tree in the unlikely place was such a great reminder of Gods grace and ability to bring beauty from filth; filth of the human heart, filth of the sinful world and filth of pollution.
But it really made me think about our part in the equation. What is necessary for us to do to "Bloom in the Mire" that God places us in. These are a few things I've either learned from failure and grace or from observing those who have blossomed so beautifully in spite of challenge.
How to Bloom in the Mire
1. We must realize God has a plan in everything.
When things start to fall apart or frustrations began to mount ALWAYS remember it isn't by chance! It is easy to think that things are spiraling out of control and we are helpless to control life or our reactions to it. We are prone to act like God not only doesn't have a plan but has lost total control. When we choose to fight circumstances more than we trust Gods plan we end in a lot of frustration! As Americans we tend to believe we can fight through everything! We believe with determination and enough effort we can do anything. And heaven help the fit that will be thrown if we can't! If Nepal has taught me anything it's been that we need God in every situation and He can and will give grace in every situation if we will simple acknowledge our need.
HE HAS A PLAN!
In everything, He has a plan. When you feel your back is against the wall. When you feel everyone is against you. When you feel evil is pushing down on your from every side; Rememeber He has a plan!
2. We Must Submit To His Plan.
Once we grasp that life isn't chance or luck we have a choice. Will we submit to the plan? This is even harder at times than accepting He has a plan at all. Whether it's being in a location we don't like, submitting to an authority we would prefer not to, being kind to those who maliciously attack you, being content and giving your desires and hopes to the Lord or anything that comes to your mind to "Bloom in the Mire" we MUST submit to His plan. We can bitterly fight it for our whole life. We can with bull-dog determination fight for what we perceive as right and good or we can trust that God has a plan to work through any and all situations to grow us and prune us. If you find yourself daily fighting something and finding no victory perhaps you are fighting Gods plan that will give you greater victory than you can imagine.
Submit when it doesn't make sense.
Submit when you don't want to.
Submit when it feels like you can't.
Just submit and trust, just trust He will honour His Word and your faith. Because I promise he will!
No one want to live in the mire. No one draws blueprints for their dream home surrounded by muck and mire. But God puts us in places we never would to bring out of us what we never could. So trust, submit and Bloom in the Mire.
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