As He often does, God has been speaking to me through a natural object lesson. In this case, it's the art of creating a bonsai tree. I know your mind probably springs immediately to Mr. Miyagi and the Karate Kid movies, but creating a bonsai is a work that a gardener does over a long period of time. Sometimes, the bonsai outlasts the gardener.
While we were in NC this past weekend, we took a little tour of the NC Arboretum (ie. GIGANTIC garden) in Asheville. As we were walking, we came to the bonsai exhibition and there were placards and photos posted on the walls detailing the process of creating a bonsai tree. These are the ones that stood out to me.
--Pruning is an essential ingredient in creating a bonsai. The gardener chooses which parts to remove or to leave, based on the mental image of the best shape possible for the subject plant.
--Repositioning various parts of the plant is often necessary to achieve the desired result.
--Root pruning allows the plant to grow indefinitely in a container without becoming pot-bound. Great care must be taken to do this work at the correct point in the growth cycle and to avoid aggressive pruning.
--While the initial work of the bonsai is now complete, it will never be considered "finished" as long as the plant is alive. The gardener will continue to maintain and develop the desired shape of the bonsai as it grows, always striving to refine the design while promoting excellent health in the living plant.
If you know me, you know I love a good object lesson. God likes to speak to me through things I can see and touch. In this case he hit me between the eyes, and he spoke to me about the truth of being patient and waiting for him to do the work. He has a picture in mind of what he wants my life to look like. He knows what's best. He knows what to keep and what to remove. He knows how to reshape me.
The key for me is to learn to have the patience to wait for him to work. As long as I'm alive, my journey will never be complete. God does big things in me, but he continues to maintain my growth in small ways. He is constantly refining me because he wants me to be as healthy as I can be.
You can't hurry a bonsai tree. It takes a lot of waiting and pruning and training to get a bonsai tree to go the way you want it to go. God is constantly at work in our lives, molding and shaping us and pruning from our lives the things that would take away from the full beauty that is the picture of what we CAN be. Trusting him and surrendering to the waiting is the hardest part.
If we were to surrender every area of our lives to "The Gardener", who knows what we could become? Try it. I'm going to try it myself. I am ready to quit my complaining and dragging my heels, and I am ready to begin to let him work and "make all things beautiful in his time."
Today, I'm grateful for...
Trying. Sometimes, to get things to be better we have to do our part. We often blame God for the outcomes of our OWN life choices, or we blame other people. There are other times when we don't see that we are the common denominator in all of our failed relationships. God promises to do his part, and what he wants for us is for us to be present in our lives and grateful for every moment. There are moments in life that are good, but that can be GREAT if we decide to try and to make better choices with God's guidance.
Peace. Despite life's circumstances, I have been having a peaceful, easy feeling...insert Eagles song here.
Object lessons. 'Nuff said.
Fresh basil. It's a summer thing. Put together with some fresh, garden tomatoes, some slices of fresh mozzarella, a sprinkle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sea salt, it's LOVELY.
Learning not to care. I am learning to care less and less about what other people think. Occasionally, I'll get hit with an insecurity that pops up in my heart or a fear of losing someone's approval. But God has been making me more and more secure in his love, to the point where I'm beginning to care less about what others think and to care more about the truths I feel God wants to speak into the lies I'm believing at a given moment. God is faithful to speak the truth if we listen.
Saving money. When we were getting married and going through pre-marital counseling, we felt like God wanted us to plan our lives living off of one income (Meaning, paying all of our bills, mortgage, car payments, etc. using one income, and whatever else came in would be used to pay for extras and fun things). It is an easy thing to do if you're willing to make a few sacrifices early on and to live within your means. We learned early on to be thrifty, but also to realize that money isn't everything and sometimes the occasional splurge is healthy if it doesn't break the bank. Life is too short to focus on what you do or do not have, so I am so grateful (though it can be annoying at times) that God directed us in that way at the beginning. Because of His direction, times like these where Sean is laid off and the income isn't as high as it could be, are easier to handle because we have experienced what it's like to tighten our financial belts.
God's faithfulness. I can look back and see the miracles he's made in my life and I'm so incredibly grateful to be able to experience his love and his faithfulness toward me. No matter how I've turned my back on him or rejected the love he's tried to give, he has continued to be faithful. When God makes a promise, he keeps it.