Brown Sticks and Beautiful Bushes

Last year on our way home from a weekend away in the mountains to celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I stopped at a quaint little nursery along a scenic country road.  It was here that we purchased several flowers to begin our fall garden as well as a Hibiscus bush that I fell in love with.  The flowers on that bush were so large and exotic that they immediately demanded my attention with their passionate color and beauty.  This bush was however a bit pricier than the pansies that we had chosen in purple and yellow abundance.   

Now, I must share with you that I have about as much confidence in my gardening skills as I do in my cooking skills…not much.  In each of these areas I love the rewards of a job well done but the job itself I could give or take.  I know that many people consider both of these tasks to be extremely relaxing and even therapeutic- to me however, they both just seem like work! 

I asked the sweet woman in charge as many questions as I could think of.  Will it only live this year or will it “come back?”   I have come to learn that really the question I was asking was “is it an annual or a perennial?”   I also needed to know if it was a “sensitive” type of bush. You see the “hardy” variety tend to fair a little better in the Glanzman garden family.

After I had exhausted my list of questions I decided that I did like it well enough to invest the larger amount of money to bring it home and make my yard beautiful.  I loved that bush, and I stared at those flowers every day until deep fall slowly lulled it to sleep. 

I met the arrival of spring this year with great anticipation.  It seems that each year we reap a double return in beauty for whatever time, effort and money that we have put into our yard the previous year.  Of course this is one of those times when my husband would say that the “we” that I speak of really means “him.” 

 As it grew warmer, I must share with you that I was a bit disheartened when beginning to water what use to be my beautiful Hibiscus bush.  In its place was a very sad looking brown stick poking up out of the ground.  It looked as if any life that had ever resided within had packed its bags and moved and in its place was a…well, a brown stick.  All hope was not yet lost however. 

I faithfully watered that brown stick every day.  Each time I passed by it I would scrutinize it searching desperately for any sign of life.  I came very close to pulling that ugly, lifeless brown stick right up out of the ground thinking not so kind thoughts about the woman who had convinced me that even I was not likely to kill this fairly hardy bush.  And, towards the end of spring just when I was about to yank that sucker up…a lone green leaf restored my hope. 

 From there it just flourished.  Hope revived I watched each day as my ugly brown stick was overwhelmed by lush green leaves.  It stretched out its branches and has grown almost as tall as I am-don’t be too impressed though because I am pretty short.  For awhile I was so happy to see green that I was content.  It wasn’t long however before I began to wander if “green” was all that was going to happen.  I was longing to see those huge, vibrant colors that had first drawn me to purchase this bush at all. 

 I am excited to share that I finally see buds!  They are all over the bush and I have a great expectation that any day now I will walk outside and cheerfully greeting me will be a beautiful, passionately colored, tremendous display of God’s creativity.  I can’t wait!

 I have just returned from Michigan where I attended the most amazing speaker’s conference.  “Speak Up” facilitated by Carol Kent and a tremendous ministry team was a life changing experience for me.  During the four days that I attended I had the opportunity to hear many women’s stories.  Almost every woman there had a story of pain, loss and devastation. 

 My heart was touched many times and tears flowed freely and often.  The amazing thing was that each woman that attended was there for the purpose of learning how to Speak Up for the Lord.  I didn’t meet one woman who didn’t desire to take what the enemy had meant for harm in their lives and through the Lord turn it for good so that they could use it to impact and help others. 

 Each of us in the midst of our pain, grieving and loss has at one time looked like a “brown stick.”  We all have times when whatever is going on in our lives seems to strip us bare and we feel that we have no life to offer anyone else.  And yet, as the Lord heals and restores we may find hope in a sprig of green that pops out of nowhere.  Perhaps it comes in the form of encouraging someone else even when we can find no encouragement for ourselves.  Perhaps it comes in being a mother to our children because there is no one to step up and take over even in the midst of our pain- and being rewarded with an enormous hug or toothless smile from the gift God has placed within our lives. 

And as we submit to the Lord all that we are He is able to bring life back to those hardened, empty places.  In our thankfulness to Him we desire to share this life with others and find ourselves almost ready to burst to let others know of the healing, restoration and redemption that lies with relationship with the one we know as Abba…Daddy…The Most High God.   These are the buds filled with passion and beauty just waiting to burst forth with color and life sharing the joy that we have with others.

I think I’m a hibiscus bush- what kind of a bush are you?


1 Comment

Filed under Analogies

One response to “Brown Sticks and Beautiful Bushes

  1. April

    It might be a vine, not a bush, but I am the jasmine on our back deck.

    When it blooms, the white blossoms are so fragrant that you can not escape it. We smell it everywhere. The fragrance of our jasmine hovers over the back deck, the picnic table, in through the dining room screen door, even in through the kitchen window. It permeates,remains, inescapable! Right now, it is just green. But, I await the bloom…

    From 2 Corinthians 2:
    14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 17Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

    Thank you for sharing, Tanya!

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