After a sustained bout of fervid horticultural attempts during the first ten years or so of my adult life, I came to the conclusion that proper care of plants proved far too time-consuming for my role as an overwhelmed mother of several young children. I consequently threw myself into the silk plant trend with the goal of avoiding watering, fertilizing, rotating pots seasonally for optimum light requirements, and other such cumbersome details.
After several years of contented, indoor-plant-free living, a friend presented me with an orchid. The flowers were delicate, exotic, and beautiful. They lingered long enough to guarantee my heartfelt attachment to the plant. In a moment of lapsed reasoning, I read up on orchids, trimmed off the old stems, and placed the barren potted stub in a northeast window. Every so often, I remembered to put an ice cube in the little pot. After a year or so of such treatment, I began to imagine I spotted a tiny sign of new growth. I moved it to a different northeast-facing window in the kitchen, where I could keep the stub under closer observation. In the meantime, various friends foisted their own abandoned orchids on me, as they claimed they did not wish to take care of them. Two more friends gave me additional orchids as a gift. I now have six orchids, happily shooting out new roots in sundry directions and occasionally surprising me with a bloom.
Apparently orchids are the perfect houseplants for me, as they thrive on neglect (my method of plant care)! Over time, I have come to admire their beauty and have learned a few lessons in the process. They require little water and seem to thrive when root-bound. Their roots reach valiantly out of the potting medium through the air, seeking sunlight. Am I that energetic and motivated when deprived of my creature comforts or under pressure? I think not!
The several orchids I have observed generally bloom once a year. After blooming, a leaf or two may turn yellow and appear to be dying; it is important not to pull the fading leaf off the plant until it nearly falls off on its own. However, new blooms typically do not form until the fading leaves come off, new roots press toward the sunlight, and a new center stalk forms, a stalk that will ultimately bear buds for the new flowers. This process follows in sequence on a schedule unique to the particular type of orchid.
However, one of my orchids is now in its third blooming cycle this year. Moreover, it has two unsightly yellow, limp leaves that have failed to fall off the plant. However, the fading leaves have not discouraged this orchid from unashamedly erupting again into glorious blooms! I am reminded that perhaps we shouldn’t wait for the residue of the old seasons in our lives to be completely gone before we press into the new season. Sometimes wheat grows with the tares; things that bear fruit may grow among a few weeds in our lives. Retaining some baggage from a season that is ending should not prevent me from boldly moving forward into a season of growth. In time, I will succeed in dropping my old suitcases from the prior season in favor of the beautiful growth of the new one. In the meantime, I need to stop using the detritus of the old season as an excuse for failing to move forward.
Similarly, in my walk with Jesus, I was far from perfect when I came into relationship with Him. (If I had waited until I was perfect to know Him better, I would never have known Him!) He was not rattled by the evidence of sin, pain, and bondage in my life, for He knew what kind of growth He had created me to sustain. He graciously tolerates my flaws as He sets about creating something of beauty. Instead of cowering in the corner, ashamed of my imperfections, I can move forward with Him and allow Him to birth beauty in my life. The dead leaves will fall off in due time.
In Luke 17:14, we read that Jesus healed ten lepers. However, they did not stand waiting before Jesus until the healing happened. Instead, “He said to them, ‘Go [at once] and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cured and made clean.” (AMPC) Often, we are healed in the process of being obedient to move on; we are healed “in the going.” If I obey the Lord to do what He asks me to do and choose to trust Him despite my circumstances and my “dead leaves,” I can move forward into the next season and bear fruit. The fruit-bearing process will ultimately trigger the shedding of the baggage of the past season. What a wonderful reminder from my valiant orchid!