Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Source of Life
Shortly after the final frost (well, the only frost of the year here in our part of Texas), we started our little seedlings, and, now, our bell peppers and tomatoes are poking their pretty little leaves above ground. It was time to transplant them and plant a few other seeds (corn, carrots, squash, and watermelon!), but not before we overhauled the plant bed. (And boy, did it need an extensive overhaul!)
There were several different bushes in the bed, and so my husband set about pulling them out. Imagine his surprise when several of them came out with ease. It turns out the plants had not taken root very well. The roots were wound around each other, still in the shape of the pot they had originally been planted in. They had not spread and taken root in the soil in which they had been transplanted. Even though they had been replanted and the roots had room to stretch out, they had not.
Some of these bushes had beautiful blossoms, but the bushes were sickly looking. They were not thick and leafy, but looked as though someone had stuck a bunch of sticks in the ground and sprinkled them with a few leaves. Yes, there were flowers- they were still alive- but they were not full or beautiful.
I am reminded of the Christian life, or at least my Christian life. Sometimes I look at my life, and while I see fruit, I also see how sickly it is. It is then I realize that my roots aren't spreading out. I'm limited- not because God limited me, but because I have limited myself. I have plenty of room to grow, yet I refuse.
Later that evening, as I was trimming the bushes (we planted them elsewhere), my oldest son (Nolyn) asked if he could save the trimmings for his nature collection. I explained to him that these trimmings were not going to stay beautiful and green. While the leaves were still alive at this point, because I had snipped them, they were now slowly beginning to die. In time, the leaves would become brown and crispy and would easily crumble in his hand.
I touched the bush, "You see, right now, these little branches are connected to the bush- their life source. But once I snip them off, they are severed from their life source." I plucked a leaf from the bush and handed it to my daughter.
"Try to put this back on the bush," I commanded. She looked at me like I was nuts (and rightly so).
"That's impossible!" she exclaimed.
"Being a good leaf will not bring this leaf life because it is not connected to the source of life. Just laying on the bush will not bring it life either. Burying it in the dirt will not cause it to take root and bring forth life. It is dying because it is not receiving the nourishment it needs! It cannot receive that nourishment because it is no longer connected to the bush."
As they looked solemnly on, I began to reveal the good news. "You see, being good does not bring us everlasting life with God. Just going to church and being around godly people will not bring us everlasting life. Trying to plant ourselves and take root in some religion or making up our own belief will not bring us life. Without God, we are left to decay. Sin causes us to decay. But, God can connect us to the tree of life! We can't do it ourselves, but God can. And, once He has connected us to the tree of life, our branches will grow and flourish and blossom. There will be no decay!"
Later, my husband explained, "There will be times when God will have to trim us just as Mom trimmed those bushes. He will trim us by correcting and guiding us so that we can grow even more and so we can grow in the direction He desires us to grow."
I'm not sure if our children really understood our parable, but it is my prayer that one day, they will. I hope, one day, they will be able to understand the teachings we are tried to instill within them and they will pour their lives out before God to be planted, trimmed, and pruned as He desires.