A few summers back I was knee-deep in wedding preparations for my daughter’s wedding. Most mothers of the bride are knee-deep. So let me be honest: I was DIY-floral-creation- on-a-budget neck deep!
Having had an entire year to obsess over (I mean plan for) the arrangements, I dreamt up then cast aside enough ideas to fill a book.
But somewhere near the end of May, I settled. I settled on a look and a plan. That plan included being as frugal as I knew how to be. So, late July I sent my husband – I mean I asked my husband – to go to a wholesale nursery that we have frequented in the past. I asked him to pick up six medium-sized gardenia plants. He obliged and brought home six beautiful and flourishing gardenias. They were perfect. No blooms. Just thriving greenery.
When Wedding Week arrived, using my favorite gold leaf spray paint, I painted all six of the gardenias. They were stunning. I then clipped until I could clip no more. Literally. I had clipped and used almost every stem on every plant. Mission accomplished.
During recovery week I left the poor plucked plants in the garage. I was pooped and didn’t care if they lived to see another day. They later found their ten-month home alongside our house, not so neatly tucked around our garbage cans. They were watered a few times by us. Mostly just by God Himself.
During about week seven in the craziness we called COVID 19 I remembered they were there. So with a bit more time on my hands I decided to check on their condition. Much to my surprise and delight, the gardenias were still alive and well. For the most part. Gold spray paint was still peeking through in places. Half of them looked nice and healthy. The leaves were not only full, but a rich green in color as well. The other half were twiggy and lanky, like a seventh-grade girl who couldn’t eat enough to keep up with her newly found height.
I decided they were all deserving of a permanent residence, so hubby dug their homes in the backyard underneath our nameless trees that we planted way back in 2012. They weren’t beautiful, the gardenias, I mean. Frankly, neither were the trees, but together they both supplied a needed source of buffering in the yard that was much too close to my neighbor’s house.
Hubs placed the healthy plants right next to the not so healthy. He planted. I watered. And gave them time to settle in. Like a good neighbor would do.
One week! One week later I was in the backyard enjoying the unseasonably pleasant weather. And what to my wandering eye did appear? One gardenia. In full bloom. Surprised, I ran to get a closer look. Sure enough. One lone gardenia in full bloom. On the most unhealthy-looking plant of all.
So why am I sharing this story with you? Well, it’s what I do. And here’s the rest of the story.
Those gardenias had never bloomed. They had been transient, doing all they could just to survive. But when we planted them, their roots spread out. They were able to grow, and establish themselves. Flourish. They finally had a permanent place to abide.
Secondly, notice which plant bloomed first. The plant voted Most Likely to Not Succeed was the one to produce fruit first! The others were beautiful and green butm they weren’t ’t blooming. Just some flashy leaves. In fact, there weren’t any buds to be found on the Best All-Around plants. Not yet.
So, the next time you are tempted to judge someone, or yourself, based on outward appearances, don’t. You can’t know what’s going on inside. You don’t know the work God might be doing. You just might be underestimating what He’s doing on the inside of you!
When we abide in Christ, we will bear fruit. (John 15:5) Because when we abide in Him, He produces the fruit within us. Through us.
And let me add this little tidbit: thankfulness is fertilizer to the soil that gives way to much fruit!!
“Let your roots grow down unto him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7.
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