A little bit potty?
God spoke to me recently through a plant. It wasn’t an audible voice emanating from a flower, or the shaking of leaves to form a recognisable Bible verse; it was in my sharing with my spiritual director about my walk with God, that I became aware of the fact that my heavenly Father had been speaking to me for a few weeks. I simply hadn’t made the time to quieten myself to hear. Without boring you with unnecessary horticultural detail, I made several cuttings from a Hawthorn bush some months back, many of which I had planted out earlier in the year to thicken an existing hedge. I had a cutting left over which I placed in a pot and have been watering and feeding over the past weeks, along with my tomatoes, runner beans and beetroot; I have done this day in and day out without thinking.
So how did God speak to me through this plant? It was in the realisation of this plant’s utter reliance on me for care, feeding, watering. Just this past week it was infested with caterpillars (Swafly) which I promptly removed. Without my intervention, it would be just a stick by now. I imagine this Hawthorn wants to be a tree, or indeed a larger bush as part of a hedge. It was never designed to be stuck in a pot, however, at the time there wasn’t a visible gap for it, and I didn't want to discard it – it was one of the better specimens, so I kept it in the pot and had been caring for it ever since, looking for the right place and right opportunity to use it.
Perhaps some of us in ministry have wanted to do great things for God; we have a killer sermon that deserves an audience of hundreds, a new idea for mission which will transform our country or a style of leadership which could remodel church meetings across an entire denomination - but instead of having the opportunity to exercise this gifting we found that we are pot bound. 'Lord, if only you would release me into something bigger - I could grow for you in so many ways, bear fruit, be productive’ we may have pleaded.
You see a pot has constraints; a pot limits growth and confines the roots in their search for food and water; but a pot also creates a micro environment of conditions most suited to the plant at a particular time. It was whilst reflecting on this that I came to recognise that what was being offered to me by God was so much better than being planted out; I was being offered care, nurture and watering from my heavenly Father. Rather than being reliant of my own abilities, I am wholly dependent on Him for all things. I don't see this as a negative; actually, it gives me the opportunity of encounter and ultimately affirmation by my heavenly Father which I am not so sure I would have benefitted from if I were growing freely in the soil.
It can be all too easy to view other leaders with envy; many are leading large churches or working in senior positions within some of our denominations. There is a temptation to put oneself forward for similar positions of significance, perhaps believing that a larger platform will afford us the opportunity to influence for the Lord, and that this is our destiny. I am certain that God has a place and purpose for each of us, but at the moment could He be saying that we should be content with living under His care and provision in a pot? He will use us, but at this time we are too precious and vulnerable to go it alone. Now is the time for intentional feeding, care and support. Father God has already a great place in mind for you, but to be ready for this you’ll need to be just a little bit potty.