I work in an office building in downtown Manhattan and it's basically your standard cube farm. I don't think the offices have been touched since the early 70's. So, when my agency first moved into it, my friend and I were trying to find ways to spruce up our workspaces a bit with plants and what not.
Conveniently, the "hip" kind of plant to have around now is like a cactus or succulent of some sort. (My generation is awesome. Millennials will trend ANYTHING. Plants? Those have been around since always, but ok.) So they're pretty easy to find at a corner market somewhere in NYC. That's lucky for me because they don't require a lot of attention. A green thumb I am not. Plants have been known to die on my watch in record time.
After a while though, this cactus I bought started to concern me because it lacked authenticity. Like....it started to seem fake. But, it was in real soil! The trickery! I would water and water it and it didn't even matter. Also, there was an orange flower on top of it that wouldn't seem to grow or wilt no matter what I did. My co-workers would just laugh at me as they watered their real plants. We finally decided that it definitely was fake (much to my chagrin) and then it became a running joke in the office.
I left it out for a while after that and then set it on top of a shelf in the corner and forgot about it for about 6 months.
A couple days ago, another co-worker came into my office and said "Shannon! How do you kill a cactus?" At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked up on top of the shelf and there was that old cactus, gray and tired as it had ever looked, but still planted in the pot on top of my shelf.
It was real after all! I had just convinced myself it was a fake plant because I wasn't seeing any immediate results. It was so sturdy after all and I, the expert of plant murdering, had paid so little attention to it that I thought it MUST be fake. I couldn't possibly be keeping a real plant alive like that.
Well, I couldn't wait to tell everyone and we had a long laugh over that one. The audacity of that plant!
But, I couldn't help but feel like there is a lesson in that somewhere. I think we can treat our lives a lot like my fake/real cactus.
Sometimes, we want something so bad and when God gives it to us, we don't know how to keep it up. Other times, we don't recognize answered prayers for what they are. We say to God "This doesn't look exactly like I thought it would." Or we're thrown into doubt because it doesn't feel like the dream we asked for.
We try to work at it and when things don't turn out exactly like we want, we give up. We grow weary of pounding the ground. We stop pouring into it.
We stop watering the dream.
The great thing about a flower in the desert though is that they can still come back to life. Flowers that were made to thrive in desert conditions know how to stand up to a drought. They might go a long time without the water they need to thrive, but when the rain comes, they bounce back.
It might look dead to you, but God can still bear fruit from the dream. And then, when your dreams are finally realized and you are living in days you never thought you'd see, your story will give Him glory. You'll know it wasn't you that made the dream, because you had already given up on it. The best kind of dreams are the ones that turn into blessings, the ones you know could have only come to pass through His divine plan and purpose in you.
But Blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God,
They're like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers -
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.
Jeremiah 17:8 MSG
I researched about ten different versions of this scripture. But, there's something specifically wonderful about the Message translation. It is the only version that says the faithful are like trees re-planted by the river.
I think sometimes, when life gets tough and you find yourself facing decisions left and right and you don't know what to do, you have to choose to replant yourself in good soil. Replant yourself and commit to stir up faith to walk out the dream God has placed in your heart.
In the seasons where your efforts seem fruitless, when it starts to seem like it doesn't matter what you do, how you contribute, or how much you pray and seek God, nothing changes,replant yourself in that vision you first had.
Even in the dry seasons, when your circumstances make you think the rain has dried up and the dream is dead, not because something bad has happened but maybe because nothing has happened,replant yourself by the river of God's blessing and simply await your flourishing moment.
I am the desert flower. Maybe you are the desert flower. Perhaps we need to choose to replant ourselves in the only thing that can quench the thirst in our souls, Jesus, while we wait for Him to do His work.
Listening: While I wrote this, I was listening to "A Place Only You Can Go" by Needtobreathe. <3