Garden nurseries are one of my favorite places to walk around and admire beautiful plants. I often purchase potted flowers or trailing vines. I must admit that African violets are not one of my favorite houseplants, but one day I impetuously purchased a young plant with indigo flowers. I took it home, and placed it next to a window with indirect light. After about two weeks, it dropped all of its charming blooms. I lovingly fed and watered it at regular intervals, and waited for new flowers to appear. I became disappointed when month-after-month there were no new buds.
I wondered if the plant would be happier in a different location with other plants. Was it lonely? I moved the violet and set it among my other houseplants, but there were still no new blooms. I reread the instructions on the box of fertilizer, and confirmed that I had followed the directions perfectly, but a year had passed, and it hadn’t bloomed again. What was I doing wrong? After my more than twenty-five years of indoor and outdoor gardening experience, this discontented violet was becoming a source of frustration.
Finally, I decided to move the plant to a location with plenty of daylong sunshine. I set it close to some other plants. Again I fertilized the stubborn violet and watered it. A week or so later, as I was watering the other plants, I glanced down and found my tiny violet in full, glorious bloom. What did I do right, or what had I previously done wrong, in my attempts to nurture this little plant?
I could not have guessed that the LORD had a pointed lesson for me to learn, but He spoke to my heart: “Mary, that little plant is like you. You should have bloomed when you lived in the Mojave Desert where I planted you, but instead you complained about the parching heat, the lack of shade trees, the scorpions, and sidewinders. You could have bloomed in Houston where I sent you, but you complained about the intolerable humidity, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and the chemicals that were sprayed to kill the mosquitoes. Your attitudes prevented you from blooming for so many years. You could have given off the sweet fragrance of JESUS and had the beauty of His spirit for others to enjoy. See what you missed?” GOD had put His finger right on my murmuring, complaining spirit. Feeling ashamed about my selfish attitude, I burst into tears and repented.
Forty years later, in 2015, I faced the same test again. I knew that GOD wanted me to move away from Colorado Springs. I had been given the certain impression that He wanted me to go to Florida. Florida! Surely not, LORD. It would be worse than Houston! I knew that Florida had suffocating humidity, hurricanes, mosquitoes, poisonous snakes, and wetlands full of alligators. Could I pass the test this time without complaining?
I knew I would miss the low humidity, and snow-covered mountains of Colorado, but in faith I took the first small step, and put up a FOR SALE sign in my front yard. Then I began to pack. I knew GOD was calling me to a new life in Florida. He had need of me there.
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians tells us: For whatever circumstances I am in, I have learned to be content. In any and every situation, I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I am filled, or hungry, or have a little, or a lot. I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 (paraphrased).
I may not always like the places where GOD sends me, but I shall follow His direction, and with His help, I will “Bloom where I am planted.”1
1Quote “Bloom where you are planted” credited to Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales