By Pastor Kevin Barnhart
Spring Grove Evangelical Free
How can I bloom where there is no water?
If you are like me, you may have been praying for rain with more fervency these days. The farmers and those who make a living from the soil have been praying hard for rain. How can things grow without water? When we think of this call to bloom where you are planted, we think I can bloom if the necessary conditions for growth are met. But that introduces a delightfully counter intuitive truth– in spiritual grow we tend to grow must in difficult seasons. When you ask people over a lifetime which periods in their life were the most formative, the most transformational, and in which they grew the most almost without exception they will answer during challenging times. You will almost never hear someone say, the most transformational time in my life was the summer I binge watched tv, eating potato chips on the couch.
Could it be we like comfort, and easy but grow best in adversity? Sometimes we can grow when you think there is no way you could. I had the opportunity to grow to Israel a number of years ago and they showed us an agricultural project to get things to grow in the desert, where there were less that 1/4 a gallon of rain in a year. I remember going to the site of the project thinking there is no way that anything could grow out here. Can you imagine my shock when I come upon trees, and green. It took a long time, and very creative uses of water but the land was being transformed.
For so many today we crave the conditions that guarantee stagnation more than growth. We think I can’t bloom here or there, I can’t grow or experience God’s transforming work in my heart because of this or that condition.
Why would it be that conditions of ease and comfort are not conditions that lead to rapid spiritual growth? I think the whole thing could come down to self-reliance. When we believe “I got this” we lean on ourselves and our own understanding. Why not? If it’s working isn’t that the all the proof, we need. The very success seems to validate the continued, if not increased reliance on ourselves. If you add to this a powerful cultural message of validating our own thinking it can become a powerful self-reinforcing cycle. Until it doesn’t work. Until it becomes painfully clear that we need help. Once we become aware that we need help, that we can’t do this on our own we reach out for help. When we reach out for God it can start the journey of a lifetime of faith that could lead straight into the arms of Jesus. The Apostle Paul had his own experience with this he had times of weakness that lead him to depend upon God’s strength.
Here is what I have learned through decades of life and walking with people. Self-reliance works until it doesn’t. You got it until you don’t. Sooner or later in life you encounter something you can’t change. It could be a cancer diagnosis that is bigger than you, it could be an accident and someone you love isn’t coming home. It could be a loss of job or a harvest that isn’t looking good no matter how hard you work. In life we will encounter times that reveal to us we cannot do this alone, and in those moments we have an opportunity to grab hold of God’s love in ways that will transform us.
Will you bloom where you are planted?