Consider the plants

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine Jan Pierce reminds us that longevity and maturity aren’t necessarily the same thing when it comes to faith. Just because someone has “walked with the Lord for many years” doesn’t mean that “they’re hearty and healthy. We may overlook sickly, pale leaves and fail to see the root-bound structure beneath depleted soil.”

I like that metaphor.

Back when I taught middle school grammar and composition, I had a lot of plants in my room. A huge jade plant in the corner. A snake plant on the floor next to my desk. Aloe vera. African violet. Christmas cactus. Philodendron. A peace lily. Every once in awhile, I’d get a plant or a start from one of my students. They’d bring in the new plant with fresh soil and bright, green leaves. But a middle school classroom is hard on plants. Students pick at the closest leaves when they’re bored. Cut them with scissors. Poke at them with pencils. Attach paperclips to the stem. Root around in the soil. Every once in awhile, I would find a plant on the floor, tipped over, dirt in the carpet. Once, a plant was put in the microwave. I think it was a kind of experiment. The African violet got the worst of it. Its bright flowers attracted student attention. Not always the best thing for a plant.

Sometimes I feel like that plant. I haven’t been treated well. And I’m tired.

Jan’s reflection challenges me to let others “speak life” to me, and she encourages me also to “speak life into them.” After all, “it can be a challenge to read Scripture with fresh eyes and a hungry heart.... But as long as we have breath, we’re seeking to be more like [Jesus].” The promise is that we can grow as “we allow God to keep doing his good work in us.”

Finally, Jan offers this prayer: “Lord, when the cares of the world or my own apathy interfere with my love relationship with you, come and rescue me.”

Eric Muhr