Although my last day is tomorrow and my time was brief, I have very much enjoyed working at Betty’s Azalea Ranch as a cashier. Surrounded by God’s beauty, I was hit by revelation after revelation as I learned more about gardening and the delicate nature of plants.
For instance, there are millions of varieties of plants, some of which require no sun but can tolerate it. Others, like roses, love the sun! Some trees don’t need as much water while others are constantly thirsty, and some need regular trimming like wisteria, while others need little. Humans are the same: each of us require something different to reach maturity.
For me personally, God knows what I need/like that helps me reach maturity. What I need and like is going to be way different from the next person, and therefore, I have different care instructions. For instance, I get lots of revelations out of reading books, and therefore God leads me each month to a different one. Others have no interest in reading, and learn more from people, and therefore learn more through social interaction. I also love new experiences, meeting new people and trying new things even if it’s outside my comfort zone, which is why YWAM worked for me. Others are more adverse to change and travel, so staying home suits them just fine. It just grew me into a deeper intimacy with God as I realized how unique I am to every human being before, with, and after me, and how much He really knows me, the “Melanie” variety.
Also, there are some trees that require a lot of care in the beginning with regular deep watering and feedings. Once established, they require a lot less food as they glory in their peak.
Baby Christians are the same. In the beginning, we require tons of comfort and encouragement and hand-holding. It’s just how we are. Trusting in Someone Else for everything is not easy for us to do, so we need a lot more nurture in the beginning. We cling to our comfort zones, until God becomes big enough in our life that we can slowly let go of them and be happy without them anymore.
This brings me to my final point: freedom. Our goal here on earth is to walk in total freedom in our identities and destinies. This is what Jesus died for, but we cannot hope to walk out in our full potential without our daily submission to Him.
Lady bugs also have a destiny, and I was blessed to have given them total freedom from their containers that Betty’s Azalea Ranch sell them in. Many gardening centers sell bugs to eat other bugs that damage plants. The owner of Betty’s calls lady bugs the “T-Rex” of aphids. Aphids loves destroying plants, especially roses, which makes lady bugs essential to God’s gardens.
Since these bugs don’t really have a long shelf life and need freedom to survive, I got to release them in our own rose beds since they hadn’t sold. As I was prying open the lid, the bugs were just itching to get out of their container, knowing that just on the other side their destiny awaited them: to feast on aphids.
Once I finally managed to get the lid off, the lady bugs literally flew into my face as they rushed into the rose beds around me. It was one of the most delightful experiences I’ve had this year. Although they are just bugs, I felt so much joy being able to release them to fulfill their God-given destiny.
And I realized, this is how Jesus must feel when He breaks the chains off of us! Though the Word teaches us that the chains are already broken, we must have our minds renewed to live this reality out and to not “fall back into fear” (Romans 8:15), which can only be done through His Spirit.
…His compulsion is our liberation.
C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
No wonder Jesus wants to see us walk in freedom. It was for the joy set before Him. Not only does our freedom accomplish His will on earth, but it is His joy, His pleasure, to see us liberated.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
On a separate note, since my last blog entry, I can say that the Richard Foster’s book ushered me into a deeper experience of God as I disciplined myself spiritually. It wasn’t a rigid, horrible, boring thing that I thought it would be, but rather, I have tasted much more of God, who is the end of all spiritual discipline, and I just want more of Him. Like a maturing plant, I’ve found myself clinging to my former comforts less and less as I grow more dependent on God, praise be to Him, but I’m still in process.
Another great short, simple, yet profound book I recommend for those seeking a deeper experience with God:
The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence