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Monday, July 13, 2015

Not just following the winds

As kids, we'd ask each other, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Today, some of us are still asking ourselves the same question!  We just haven't "grown up" yet and therefore, when we DO grow up, we will be something other than what we are today - that is the point of growing up - right?  All growth has an end point in life, though.  At some point, we move from "growing" to "rotting".  My tomatoes are at about the end of their season, beginning to yellow under the hot Arizona sun and their fruit is just splitting from the heat. It is about time to uproot them, turn them over into the soil and wait for the "volunteer" tomatoes at the end of the hot summer.  Some of us are waiting to see what "volunteers" to grow inside of us when we just need to take some steps to actually see some growth!

Our goal is to become like a full-grown man—to look just like Christ and have all his perfection. Then we will no longer be like babies. We will not be people who are always changing like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to deceive us—those who make clever plans and use every kind of trick to fool others into following the wrong way. No, we will speak the truth with love. We will grow to be like Christ in every way. He is the head, and the whole body depends on him. All the parts of the body are joined and held together, with each part doing its own work. This causes the whole body to grow and to be stronger in love.  (Ephesians 4:13-16 ERV)

Our goal is to grow up.  The way we realize that goal is through the aid of Christ within us.  The end result will be perfection - something none of us will ever attain any other way than to allow Christ to indwell us and change us from what we are now to what we have the potential to become in him.  My garden has gone from being "in full bloom" to barely struggling to show signs of any life as the hot days have lingered on and on.  We had a pretty good windstorm last night and my entire yard is covered in pine needles, elm leaves, pine cones, and small tree branches.  I could get out there today to clean it up, but I know there is another one headed in tonight and tomorrow, so I will not expend the effort to just see it come all back again!  What I am doing is listening to the inner voice which says it is okay to just let it linger.  Most of the time, I don't let things linger - I like to keep on top of this stuff.  I wonder why I let issues "inside" my life linger when I won't let the stuff on the outside linger?  Maybe this is a lesson we all need to learn - don't let the stuff which really matters go untouched!

As I watched the windstorm last night, I saw things from neighbor's yards go blowing down the neighboring streets.  These things weren't anchored down, so they were easily moved when the winds came.  The stuff in our lives which are not anchored solidly will become easy prey for whatever moves upon us in life. It matters not the source of the movement, it just moves us.  This is a dangerous way to live life - being moved by whatever moves us at the moment. If we continue in this long-term, we will just move from one thing to the next without ever setting down roots which will anchor us to something of lasting value.  Growth is only possible when we have solid roots.  Roots are only possible when we allow the seed to be taken into the soil of our lives.  Soil is only prepared when there is something which stirs it up.  Stirring is only possible when something external to the soil exerts pressure to break the hard crust of the topsoil.  If we could see the phases of growth in our lives as clearly as we can see the phases of growth in our gardens, maybe we'd be more challenged to deal with the tendency to embrace each and every seed which comes along!

We don't want to compromise our values in life.  Not all growth is wise for us, nor is it the season to accomplish this growth.  I have tried on several occasions to grow a zucchini plant.  You'd think that would be pretty easy.  In just about 3 weeks, each seedling withers and dies.  Sometimes it is because of those green inch-worm bugs which like to blend in with the leaves and just suck the life from the plant.  At other times, it is because pesky flies are laying their eggs around the stems of the plant, effectively cutting of their intake of "air".  As the heat continues in the low desert, the bright sun and unbearable heat of day further influence the successful growth of these seedling plants.  Various influences impact the growth of the tiny plant.  None of them can be controlled entirely, so if we are to ever see the growth of squash in the garden, we have to do what we can to protect the growth.  As is the case in the garden, the same thing is true in our lives - we must control what we can and then let God control the rest.  

Growth can be lost as quickly as it is realized, unless we do what we can to protect what is growing inside of us.  If it is the right kind of growth, from the right seed, we want that growth to continue, don't we?  If it is something akin to a weed of invasive plant, we may not be as desirous to see it continue.  As I have been reading more and more about gardens, there are some kinds of "natural weeds" which actually lend nutrients to the garden soil - like nitrogen, calcium, and the like.  Who knew we might actually benefit from a few weeds? The issue comes in letting nothing but weeds overtake the garden.  One or two may actually lend something for a while, but in time, they will become harmful, choking out life from the other plants.  We can have influences in our lives which are not exactly "pure" which might actually challenge us to grow for a while, but if they are left too long in our lives, we might actually find they inhibit our growth.  We must maintain a good balance of both, just like a ship's captain must use the winds to guide the ship into deep waters, but he must never just let the ship go where the current and winds take him!  Just sayin!