by Sandy Mayle
Eye-catching Gloriosa Daisies grew beside my front porch some years ago. A type of Black-Eyed Susan, they stood tall and sturdy with blooms of vibrant, multi-colored petals around large, dark centers. Visitors commented on them; relatives dug up some of the beauties to cart home to their own gardens.
But eventually we discovered a curious trait in those showy flowers. Although they were perennials, they were short-lived ones that propagated by self-seeding. As a result, we never knew exactly where future daisies were going to appear! Perhaps the next year volunteers would be found a little to the left of where the originals had been planted, or even in the middle of a nearby flower grouping. I was a pretty casual landscaper, so it didn’t really matter. But to a gardener with a plan and a purpose, that’s a trait that can become a problem.
I know a Gardener with a plan for His garden and a purpose for every flower He plants in it. There’s nothing random about His arrangements, and He gives what each plant needs to bud and blossom in its spot.
But we’re “flowers with a will.” We can choose to root and grow and blossom where He’s planted us. We can decide we’d rather explore nearby options instead. We can droop and wither and pine for a place in the sun or the shade or anywhere besides where He’s put us.
I once heard contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Twila Paris repeat a familiar piece of advice, but her addition of one word grabbed my attention:
“Bloom exactly where you are planted.”
I suspect that many of us – myself included – have cultivated a perennial habit of dying back in our current location and re-seeding ourselves at least a little off-center from where God has placed us. It’s no wonder, for much of our culture is built around dissatisfaction with the present, with what we have, with who we are. As a result, we test the prevailing winds and volunteer to be blown to a more desirable setting, begging to please, please, please be allowed to come up somewhere else.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain,” wrote the apostle Paul (1 Tim. 6:6). That’s wise counsel, not only regarding money and “stuff,” but also church affiliations, homes, careers, family life and unpleasant circumstances. It’s undeniably tempting to react to less-than-ideal growing conditions by putting in for a transplant or at least riding the afternoon breeze through the fence to bloom in our neighbor’s sunny garden.
God, though, has an overabundance of hothouse varieties suited only for well-tended gardens and requiring ideal climatic conditions. He’s looking to develop varieties of plants that will stay and bloom in the clay, the desert, the bog or the steaming jungle – wherever He has placed them.
Maybe we’ve been unwillingly transplanted into one of those places and we struggle to adjust to the adverse climate. Or perhaps we’re houseplants just itching to bloom out-of-doors where we wouldn’t feel so isolated. Or we worry that in the chilly shade of pressures and difficulties we will be unable to produce the blossoms He looks for. Or we complain that the neighboring plants are too tall, too bright, too close…
The Gardener listens without comment as we detail the drabness of our situation (which we could improve by just blooming). He hears us lament that we deserve better than clouds and wind and having to put forth the effort to bud and bloom year after year. Surely we’ve earned a comfortable spot in the sun somewhere, where we can live out the remainder of our days in pest-controlled, weed-free ease.
Or couldn’t we be relocated to a quiet, out-of-the-way place where we can blend in comfortably with the greenery? Or maybe to a front-and-center showcase of impressive arrangements?
Meanwhile He trims and tends and waters and patiently waits for us to bloom just there.
Because He has His reasons for planting us where He has. Maybe we need to be here. Maybe someone else needs us here. Probably both. Perhaps He means us to provide shade for a sun-scorched seedling or color to a drab patch or companionship to a lone and struggling transplant. He definitely means it for our own good, whether to make us sturdier by standing strong against the wind, taller by reaching for His heart, or more connected to others as we intertwine our tendrils for godly friendship and support.
Without a doubt, God planted you and me where He did for a purpose.
It may not be obvious. It may not appear important to the onlooker or to us either. We may even sometimes feel like we’re among the countless flowers on forsaken highlands or in sultry rain forests that bloom and die and bloom again, season after season, without ever being seen by anyone… but God.
Really now, can that be considered insignificant? Blooming for His eyes is, after all, the greatest privilege of all. Bloom, then, so brilliantly and profusely that His eyes light up with pleasure at the sight of you.
Bloom exactly where you are planted!
Sandy is a freelance writer living in Erie, Pa. She loves words, nature, and solitary retreats. Her newest venture is mentoring in the equine therapy program at a nearby horse ranch. She and her husband, Dave, have three sons and three grandchildren.