I have a short post this morning in response to a thoughtful message in church yesterday by pastor John. He used an illustration from his garden that is still growing on me the more I let it seep in.
John and Madeline were ready to plant some daffodils and they came across a gardening blog that recommended planting in a random distribution. Rather than rows or groups, the article said, get a handful of bulbs, throw them in the air, and plant them exactly where they land. They followed the advice, wandering through their property tossing the bulbs a handful at a time.
Fast-forward to a couple of weeks back. John noticed green shoots pushing through the dirt as the daffodils responded to the urging of spring-like temperatures. “I didn’t want them to be trampled underfoot,” he said, “or damaged by the dogs or visitors walking through the garden. And so, to protect the new plants, I grabbed what I had at hand.”
What pastor John had at hand was a bunch of tomato plant cages. So he shoved the wire guards into the dirt around the emerging daffodils and went on about his business. This past week he returned from an out of town trip to notice an array of blooming daffodils. However (and this is the beautiful part of the story) there were daffodils in the tomato cages, yes, but there were other daffodils too, blooming where he did not expect to see them.
Trying to hem in God’s word!
This is what it is like with God’s word. We build our own structures around nuggets of truth and understanding, attempting to hem God in, to limit the parameters, to control the message.
“Color inside the lines, God!” we seem to say. “Don’t disrupt our narrowly-focused ideas!” But then The Creator’s initiatives have a way of taking off on their own, of surprising us, of bucking the (our) system, circumnavigating the (our) status quo, obliterating the (our) expectations and most certainly blowing past the limitations we attempt to impose.
”Tomato cage guards?” God chuckles, blooming wherever and whenever. “You believe I should limit my initiatives of grace to your narrowly defined structures? That’s cute…”
And so we toil faithfully in the garden, and we pray, and we hope never to knowingly try to hem God in… or quench the Spirit… or put Jesus in a box.
“O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where…”
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.