I'm married to the beautiful Bridget and father to four fantastic kiddos. We plant churches and live in a fifth-wheel camper. I write and smoke a pipe whenever I get the chance. Currently camped in Austin, TX.
“Bloom where you’re planted.” I’ve looked at this phrase in a previous article with regards to being planted in one of two trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or the tree of life. For those who are in Christ, we are planted in the tree of life. In other words, we are planted in the Lord’s ways and desires and not our own. This simply means that we bloom in Him, regardless of our location. But what if we’re planted in Him, we have all the right soil and the right sized pot, and we get plenty of water, but we still don’t bloom? Or worse yet, we wither and die? What then? I’m planted in Christ, I should be blooming! Let’s look at our environment.
Where the Sun Don’t Shine
My wife has grown a green thumb. She has planted a little garden outside our rig, and I love it. I spend a lot of time in the garden, as it has become my new office. In this garden, my wife potted a rose bush. It was a beautiful bush full of many blooms.
One day, we noticed the bush wasn’t doing very well. It honestly wasn’t very long after she brought the plant home and set it in its new location that the plant began to wither. The petals fell every day from the flowers. The lush, green leaves turned brown and frail. The plant was dying.
Oh, she gave it water. She gave it plenty of water, but not too much. She checked the soil, and everything looked good there, too. After just a couple of weeks, however, the plant was gone. No flowers nor bulbs were left. The few leaves that hadn’t yet fallen were brown and dangling. The plant was dead.
Desperate for a miracle, my wife moved the bush. She took it out of her lovely garden and set it next to the road in front of our neighbor’s rig. The guess was that in the corner of the garden in which the plant was set, it wasn’t receiving the proper amount of sunlight. We are fortunately (for cooling purposes) situated under three large shade trees. These trees, however, in providing shade, obviously block much of the sun’s light. Again, while nice for helping to keep the rig cooler, it is not conducive to growing sun-loving flowers. In the environment that rose bush was planted, it wasn’t receiving all the life it needed to live.
Out by the side of the road, out from under the trees, the bush slowly began to revive. Honestly, while it still looked sickly and dead to me, my wife noticed the color of the leaves returning.
“The leaves are green again!” she said one afternoon.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“The rose bush,” she replied. “It’s leaves are turning green again.”
Emboldened by the development, my wife then moved the bush once again. This time, she moved the pot to the front of the garden, technically just outside the garden, but back on our lot. In this location, the rose bush receives significantly more morning light, well, light in general, than it did in the back of the garden. In this new location, still planted in the same pot in which it has always been planted, the bush now receives the life it needs to live. And living it is.
Just this week, I noticed new bulbs forming among the leaves.
“Bridy Girl, have you seen your rose bush lately?” I asked her.
She looked over and gasped, “New bulbs!”
“I told the bush it would make you happy to see the new life,” I teased.
“Oh, it does! It makes me so happy!”
Then, this morning, Bridget called me outside. “R.C. come here!”
“What is it?” I asked.
“A new rose!” she exclaimed.
Yes, there it was, blooming in all its glory: a new rose. And another bulb beginning to blossom, as well. The rose bush lives! New life now fills the garden.
Chasing the Son
Though we are in Christ, our surroundings, or environment, play a significant role in how we abide in the vine. Please hear me: our God is supernatural and can accomplish whatever He desires supernaturally; however, He prefers to work practically within the confines of this natural world. In other words, if our plant isn’t getting the sunlight it needs, instead of praying for the Lord to miraculously break through all the things that are shading that plant, we move the plant into more light.
The same with us. If we are abiding in the vine, but we’re withering and dying, why do we stay where we are and beg and plead with the Lord to miraculously deliver us? Maybe its a matter of our environment? The rose bush was firmly planted in the soil and resources it needed, but it wasn’t receiving any light. We couldn’t move the shade trees, so we moved the rose bush. It’s still firmly planted in the soil and resources it needs, but now it also receives light and is blooming once again. Are you planted in Christ, with all the right soil and resources you need? Then what about your environment? Are there a lot of distractions (shade) blocking out the light? We can become so distracted with this life – our jobs, our relationships, our good things – that the True Light gets blocked out. Therefore, while we may be planted correctly, we still receive no life. So, we can either remove the distractions or move away from them.
Have you considered a move? Perhaps the move is simply from one job to another? Perhaps it’s from one city to another? I cannot answer these questions for you; only the Lord can. Ask Him. Several saints have mentioned to me over the years how they’re “dying on the vine”. Well, either they are refusing the life the vine provides, or shade (distractions) has grown up around them. If this is you, I encourage you to sit with the Lord on it. Are you rejecting His life? If so, then deal with that. Have distractions taken hold? If so, can the shade be removed, or does the saint need to move?
Here’s the rub: as long as we’re planted in Christ, and are abiding in Him, seeking Him in all things, allowing Him to live His life through us, then I believe He’ll reveal what’s going on. He’ll reveal when or if it’s time for a move. He’ll reveal what’s causing us to wither, then He’ll provide the way to the life. It’s all in Him. And when we, the Church, abide in the vine, He’ll be the Bush Who Lives.