There’s something to be said for a garden full of blooms that never die. No insects devouring the leaves and a beautiful array of colour popping up through the snow. (You don’t know what I’m talking about do you? Have patience my friends – the last line before the ‘God bit’ explains all.)
I think the Americans call it green-thumb. Here in England its known as greenfingers. The ability to be able to plant, nurture and grow anything and everything.
Seedlings have always scared me. I think it comes from the time I ordered 200 pansy plug plants. In the brochure the word ‘plug’ was omitted from my line of vision. I eagerly awaited the arrival of my beautiful coloured flowers only to be greeted at the door by a postman holding a tray of miniature green shoots.
After chastising myself for not reading information properly, I carefully placed my treasures in the garden to grow at their own pace.
But alas, it was not to be. The cat next door thought it was a litter tray and proceeded to bless every leaf with feline manure. Bin. Anger.
A few years later another catalogue fell onto my doormat, temptingly inviting me to shower my garden with the most gorgeous climbing roses you’ve ever seen.
Being ever aware of my horticultural track record, I rang a gardener friend to ask advice about planting.
I had received 4 brown ‘sticks’, but had been given assurance that if I soaked the roots, they will miraculously develop into roses in 6 weeks.
I had to plunge the sticks into water up to the nobbly bit. Not being sure of what the nobbly bit was, I deemed it wise to check. 24 hrs later, they were safely in the ground. The thought of majestic vines, plump with pink, yellow red and lilac flowers cascading gracefully up my fence, filled me with sheer delight.
Well, 6 weeks went by, then a couple of months and my ‘roses’ were not climbing. They hadn’t even mounted the first rung.
It looked like old arthritic hands were sticking out of the grass with their fingers rigid from pain.
Infact, the neighbours must have thought that the four corners of my lawn had been used to bury elderly bodies and being still alive, they were trying to escape.
A couple of weeks later, my trusted gardener friend turned up on my doorstep with his lovely wife. She looked normal – he was biting his lip. Naturally, I asked his advice as to why he thought my roses had not even the smallest shoot. He bit his lip harder. I soon discovered that this grimace was owing to part diplomacy, part laughter. When he eventually gained strength to speak, he calmly uttered, “You’ve planted them upside down.”
I stood there dumbfounded, realising those old withered looking fingers were the roots.
So, now you know why my current garden flowers are made of fabric and plastic.
I am reminded that in Hebrews 10:25, it says that we must not forsake regularly gathering together publicly, to praise God corporately, to bless others, receive instruction, guidance and wisdom and to be encouraged ourselves.
I am blessed to attend a good church where we are constantly encouraged to plant ourselves in a local body of fellow Christians, so that our roots can grow strong. Those 4 pathetic, upside-down rose plants made me think that is what I would look like if I got offended with someone and decided to leave and search for a different church.
If we don’t plant ourselves correctly, like my poor dry sticks, we could end up with our roots exposed. Not only would this be unhealthy for us, we’d eventually die spiritually.
So forget about the out-of-tune choir, the ancient decor and the funny look the pastor/vicar/elder gave you last week. Forget about the fact that your little boy is not in the play and that you’ve been blamed for the burnt buns. If you’re patiently enduring in a church you believe God has put you in, endure for a lot longer, no matter the problem.