I have always been fascinated with anything I can learn that combines science and art. For example:
1)Photography is writing with light done with a highly technical array of equipment. God is light. And a photograph captures a moment to make a memory forever, and it can be the best gift I could give anyone ever if a tender moment is captured.
2) Gardening. In botany I need to understand the individual personality of the plants but I get to mix color, heights, and texture to create a beautiful view that changes over time. And it is living so it responds to my care. I feel closest to God when I am working in the garden.
3) Horses. The science of how these animals are built and move requires advanced education. The herd instincts, and the results of being prey animals are key to understanding how to best partner with them. The fact that a strong and powerful animal is willing to allow a weaker one get on its back and be in charge of its power always feels like a perfect miracle to me when I climb into the saddle. I feel it is a gift God has given to man and I am so thankful to receive it and cherish it. How we ride and what we accomplish together is the fun creative part of the work. I get all weepy appreciating this gift in my life.
There’s God in the science for me to discover while I express creativity. What could be better fun? I always feel as though I draw close to God when I engage in these activities.
Yesterday I pruned the blooming plants in my garden. I realized while deadheading the lavender, which gave a great show this season, that I should have cut off the flowers while they were pretty and perhaps the plants might have given me a second round of flowering. But I didn’t cut them in time. The reason is because I like to see the blooms in my garden. When I cut a flower in its prime, ok, I admit it, I suffer a little guilt. This makes me a novice gardener.
I got to thinking about pruning and how the cut back, the injury, is what stimulates new growth. And I wondered if God wanted man to discover this science fact so we could use it as a parallel in our lives for when God does a pruning on us. If we can see the flowers grow better after a cut back, then it could be true that we can grow and flourish from a cutback of our own.
I like to think God gives us clues like this from nature so we can better understand his work in our own individual lives. I wouldn’t have expected to have such hardship as we established a children’s home full of orphans needing the assistance we were offering. I thought the sea would part for work like that! Well, nothing like it happened, we went through anguish, suffered at the hands of fools, and endured painful pruning.
For example, last summer when we had to decide never to return to the first church we helped who had children in its care. I was told originally they were all orphans, but we came to learn they were all somehow family members who came from a village to the city hoping a mzungu would lift them out of their poverty. When we sent a sizable amount of money each month to buy food, imagine our horror to discover they weren’t being fed any better than the day we met them. I think we either funded someone’s website or landscaped their big house. And our best friends who helped us through the ordeal worked secretly to get us to buy land and get us to think they were buying some too. But we discovered in time we bought it all and they were going to steal two of the acres. Our dearest mentors and friends did this to us while we were preparing our organization to take care of orphaned kids in Uganda. I call that some serious pruning.
I am so pleased I can write those heartache summaries without emotion. I’m quite sure I have forgiven the offenders. I can close my eyes, pull my belly up into my heart and feel no negative emotion. I only hope they grow close to Jesus in repentance and change so they never do it again to someone else. It is mostly hard for me to live with the idea they could victimize some other do-gooder like me who might not be able to recover and carry on with the work. I’m thankful God has been doing a gymnastics in my heart to help me let go and let Him take care of what happens to them. It’s His job not mine.
He’s given me a job and that’s to work for the sixteen children in our care, provide salaries for the super staff we have who love them as their own, and to reach out into the communities where these children were found. He’ll take care of the criminals.
The pruning for sweet, good intentioned Mama Tonya who desired to spread the love as far as she could reach, it hurt. After I was pruned I bled, and the suffering was great. I leaned heavily on a sovereign God who understands all things while I can only see one spark of light. And in his plan and will for my life the cutting I received helped me grow wisdom, set boundaries, and see the blossoming happen in the faces of sixteen beautiful creatures of God who have found a forever family because we didn’t choose to give up after the hurt. They are our bigger brighter better flowers.
I see now, as if I were like the lavender in God’s garden, he cut me off while I was in perfect bloom and carried the lovely purple heads away for other’s to do as they please. Meanwhile the shortened, humbled plant left behind had serious work to do. It didn’t give up, or turn brown to wait to be pulled out by the roots. I took sustenance from the light, and drew nutrients and water up from the roots and gave an even better show of flowers. Nature teaches that those lavender plants will continue to wait for the master gardener to tell them what to do by the way the care is given. Alone with the self is the worst-case scenario. We need the pruning to be able to give repeat blooming.
I allowed myself to imagine for just a moment how difficult our work was when we were trying to help that church who didn’t want to do anything to help themselves, they just wanted us to give more and more. What ifc we were still there? It was toxic, and if we hadn’t been pruned out of there we wouldn’t know the heavenly fragrance of our own home where sixteen truly orphaned children rest their heads each night on their own pillows knowing they are loved, cared for, sheltered, and nourished in every way.
Let me say, after learning this lesson so many times in my life, I’ll stand and lift my hand high and be the first to ASK God for the pruning. I have absolute faith and trust that he knows what is best for me. I can lean on Him and know it all turns out better than if I try to go my own way.