By Stephanie Nicole
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
In fact, I could have sworn that I yanked them all out at the end of the season two years ago.
And yet, there it was: a small purple, white and yellow pansy peeking out through dry dirt littered with the fallen leaves of a Saskatoon bush, blooming in the late October sun as if it was a midsummer’s afternoon.
In the past few months our backyard has seen desert-like conditions with heat and drought, followed not long after by a huge dump of snow and weeks of chilly temperatures, that has since melted and warmed into a gorgeous stretch of actual fall weather.
After all of that, the hardy little pansy popped its pretty head up out of the ground and started to blossom, right beside a big ugly thistle and our dried up pumpkin vine, the fruit of which had been stolen by our local squirrel before it even had much of a chance to grow.
Bloom where you’re planted.
Be faithful to God in the the driest, hottest seasons where you’re feeling unimportant and invisible.
In those very moments your heart begins to wilt, send your roots down deep into the Word and learn what it means to have the attitude of Christ:
“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV)
I’ve been reading through the books of Psalms and Isaiah this summer, attempting to savour each bit. It’s really. slow. going. Being a wife and mom of four young children is a full time job. Add in my career and other ministry involvements and it’s life overflowing! In years past I’ve gone with a quick devotional approach to reading my Bible, but I’ve recently been challenged to tap the brakes and take more time to understand the context of what I am reading and learn what it reveals about who God is.
There has been a long season in my life where I have been desperately seeking the truth about who God says I am instead of the lies I had been believing. Now I am finding more freedom and the desire to ask yet another question entirely: not “who am I?”, but “who is I AM?”.
Who is this amazing God who would lay aside His glory and sacrifice His life for the sake of those He loves so completely?
Is He really the same yesterday, today and forever? (Hebrews 13:8)
And how does knowing Him more deeply impact my day-to-day demands and moments of completely mundane tasks that bring no joy to me in my natural state?
I am captivated by the beauty of the world God has made. Even a simple tree across the street, standing strong and tall in both the blazing hot sun of the summer and the wickedly frigid winds of the winter brings my heart such awe and amazement that I can’t help but worship the Lord. I could spend all day in that moment, heart lifted by a glimpse of a bird taking flight, but I am snapped back to reality when I hear a little voice saying “uh-oh Mama” from the washroom (and all the parents cringe!). Somehow, walking around my living room straightening cushions, folding toddler t-shirts and bringing the trash to the curb just in time for the garbage truck just don’t have the same “wow, Lord, You’re awesome” factor.
And yet, these are the practical things right in front of me. And I am finding that they are the very things God is using to transform my heart.
This past week I’ve had to consciously make the choice to turn my work into worship. I’ve been picking up socks in prayer, tying little shoes with thanksgiving and teaching scissor skills with a song in my heart. Every time I return a toy to its home, every time I throw away a piece of trash left behind by my children, every time I behold the aftermath of imagination and creativity strewn about the living room, I am choosing prayer and praise: prayer for the person it reminds me of and praise for the gift of life in Christ.
Believe it or not, this simple act of worship is fueling new growth in my cold, frustrated heart, and I am finding fresh gratitude and hope. Beauty is blossoming in the most unlikely of places because my eyes are constantly on the One who loves unconditionally and without end.
Against all odds, like the extraordinary little pansy flourishing in my otherwise-dead backyard, I’m just gonna go ahead and bloom where I’m planted too.