Stay Planted Where Placed

Last week a friend stopped by for a visit, saw my plants, and offered some advice. The need was evident. One of my succulents sits with its overgrown stalk resting on the kitchen window, like a child smooshing its face into the glass. Across the counter sits a different plant, droopy and over-watered, looking as if trying to reach something to hold on to, only to give up. She told me the size of the pots is the problem, affecting their healthy growth. One has too much room, and the other is cramped. I had no idea!

Doing research, I found on SimplifyPlants’ website that “different species of plants have different care requirements, and each of them acts differently in a particular situation.” For example, when the pot’s size is too small, the nutrients present in the soil will be absorbed quickly by the plant, and the roots may become root-bound. On the other hand, if you put a plant in a pot too big, the plant will not be able to absorb appropriate nutrients. In addition, the soil may hold too much water, leading to root rot and other pest problems in the plants. So, I learned that I have to be intentional in my pot selection for each plant, giving it the appropriate soil, water, and fertilizer it requires.

Thinking about plants reminds me of how God made us uniquely in his image, planting us strategically for growth, pruning, and harvesting (Jeremiah 17:7-8). God knows when we need a smaller space for our roots to grow deep, and he knows when we are ready for a larger area of expansion. He also gives us “fertilizer” through his Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and his church, where we encourage and support one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Unfortunately, we often want to control where we are planted, our speed of growth, and the fruit we bring. Other times, we may not want to grow but remain where we are, tired and weary from the process. It’s often in grief that we feel the struggle the most. When we endure suffering, we may feel we’ve been ripped from our pot and question if we’ll ever grow again. We are challenged in our faith to trust the master gardener (John 15:1-27), who we are to abide in, through all seasons of life. He is the one who causes us to grow and prunes us when needed. He gives us Jesus, our living water and nourishment, promising through him we won’t hunger or thirst again (John 4:10, 6:35)

Let’s encourage one another not to struggle out of our pots. As it is for us and those we help, God knows where we belong, even when it feels foreign, dull, or barren. Let’s remind ourselves and them to soak in the living water of Jesus and allow him to fertilize our soil. Be intentional in the community around you, supporting, encouraging, and tending to one another. And with patience and perseverance, we look forward to the Kingdom of God…

…yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE. Mark 4:32

Tanya Flores, Reproductive Loss Network

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp

Wouldn’t it be great to believe today could be an invitation for a fresh start? What if there was a book that offered daily reminders of that possibility? I’d read it!

If you thought I was describing the Bible, you’re absolutely right. We should always start there for our direction, hope, and encouragement. But God gives some the ability to write great “helper” books, personal accounts offering the extra touch of humanity to the Biblical truths. And I offer a suggestion…

One of my favorites is “New Morning Mercies” by Paul David Tripp. I couldn’t help to think this would be a perfect addition to people’s libraries as they look for a new devotional for 2022. Or, maybe this is already on your shelf, and I offer a gentle suggestion to consider another reading this year. Either way, Paul writes 365 greatly needed meditations reminding us of God’s endless grace in our lives. Lamentations 3:22-23 is the basis of the book and reminds us:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

We need to be reminded, constantly, of God’s grace and mercy. I often find myself buried under timelines and tasks of my own doing, thinking I can do just one more thing for God. Other times, I’m so exhausted I wonder what difference it all makes to God or those around me. In both perspectives, I recognize I am serving myself and my expectations. I need a fresh start!
“New Morning Mercies” is a godsend as I read and am reminded of the transforming grace God gives to me and how my identity is not in this world but in Christ. If you choose to read, I pray you will find this devotion as much of a blessing as I have.