LIFE IN A NUTSHELL ◽ YOU
As the deadline for this month’s article loomed closer and closer I was in a pickle. (And I’m personally not a fan of pickles unless they are fried and dipped in Ranch dressing.) With the constant state of change and uncertainty we now live in, every idea I had could’ve been a moot point by the time the article was published. So I did the only thing I knew to do.
I asked God to show me what He wanted me to share with you readers. I told Him I was empty of words and lost as to what to say and I needed Him to lead me. And, oh by the way, I needed Him to walk fast because the article was due in less than a week. No pressure, God!
God was silent for several days. I could say I was worried but I really wasn’t. I just kept praying that my eyes, heart, and soul would be open to whatever He had in store for me. And then God did what God does best; when I least expected. He showed me something my own soul was aching to see.
I took a trip to a local plant nursery with one of my dearest friends who needed some ideas for her flower beds. We were deep in discussion about what was troubling our hearts when we strolled into the exotic indoor plant greenhouse and came upon a giant tree reaching floor to ceiling.
His plans for us are limitless, but we ourselves, and the fallen world we live in, try to contain them in a manner that is easier to carry and handle. I have no idea how long these trees have been inside that greenhouse, but I am sure when they originally came in they were carried in by a person. They were small enough to be able to be picked up and placed on the ground. Now, in their current state, I am guessing they could never be moved. They are too large and they are firmly rooted. Moving them, given their location and size, might require damaging the root system and thus harming the tree.
So often God places big dreams or big hopes in our lives, but we, in all our humanness, can’t handle them. I know I personally ask God for something smaller, more manageable, and easier to carry. And God in all His love and mercy gives me what I ask for. I find just the right spot for my little metaphorical pot of hopes and dreams. I water the pot and take care of it as best I know how. I think it looks lovely. I know the potential my hopes and dreams have, but I rest easy knowing that the pot I placed around their root system will keep them from getting too big for me to easily manage.
That pot is created out of my own doubts and fears and struggles with giving everything to God. The pot can be beautiful. I can dress up my doubts, fears, and struggles with all kinds of pretty excuses and make them look more pleasing to the eye. But the truth is they are just my way of trying to put limitations on myself and God.
Depending on the hopes and dreams (and on the specific type of plant) that pot can limit the growth or even kill what is trying to thrive inside it. We have all seen hopes and dreams die because of doubts and fears. We have all seen regrets for what could have been. We have all asked ourselves the question, “What would I most want to do if failure was not an option?”
These Fiddle Leaf Fig trees remind me that while God will often let me limit myself sometimes, when it is for His glory, He will not be contained. He will find a way to break free of all the obstacles holding His children back. He will firmly take hold of those hopes and dreams and grow them to heights we weren’t prepared for and weren’t sure we could handle.
God knows we were created for more. He knows that with Him we can achieve great things on this side of Heaven for His honor and glory. God has given us gifts and talents to achieve these things. And He has blessed us with opportunities if we will only stop long enough to see them. God doesn’t want us to put our dreams inside a small pot. He wants us to break free of what is holding us back and reach heights we never imagined were possible. And He promises us that if we will stay rooted in Him, His word and His will…then all things truly are possible. Miracles can happen. The unexplainable can occur. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
The Bible is full of stories just like this. Noah built an ark when he had never even seen rain. Moses led his people out of Egypt with a speech problem. David was herding sheep when he was chosen to be king. Mary was a typical teenager when an angel told her she was going to give birth to a savior.
In 2 Kings 4:1-7 we learn about a widow who went to Elisha for help. Creditors were coming to take her two sons as slaves if she wasn’t able to pay them. Elisha asked her what she had and the woman replied “nothing…except a little oil.” (2 Kings 4:2) “Elisha said, Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.” (2 Kings 4:3) He then told her to fill each jar until it was full, put it aside and fill another. She was to keep doing this until all the jars were full. So she and her sons did just that and when all the jars were full the oil ran out. She used those jars of oil to pay her debts and save her sons.
Notice Elisha tells the woman “Don’t ask for just a few.” The woman thought that she was limited with just “a little oil” but Elisha knew the power of God. He knew God was limitless. The only limits placed on how long the oil would flow, and thus how much money the woman would make to pay off her debt, was on how many pots the woman gathered up. If she had gathered 10 pots we could assume the oil would’ve dried up after 10. If she had gathered 1,000 pots we could assume the oil would’ve filled all 1,000 of them.
When I researched the Fiddle Leaf Fig tree I found out it can grow to be over 50 feet tall in its native soils of West Africa. There it flowers and produces fruit. However, many homeowners around the world have adapted the tree to be a small indoor plant and in this environment the tree will not flower or bear fruit. While it is still very beautiful to look at, the tree never reaches its full potential.
It caused us both to stop mid-conversation and stare in amazement. Not only was the tree huge, but what was even more amazing was the tiny pot at the base of the tree that the roots were in. At first it reminded me of Robin Williams as the genie from Aladdin when he comes out of the lamp and the famously says, “Phenomenal cosmic powers…itty bitty living space.”
I stepped closer to read the tag to find out what kind of tree it was. When I leaned in, I discovered it was a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree and I saw that the roots were actually not contained in the tiny pot at all. They had broken free and were firmly rooted in the floor of the greenhouse. As I looked around to find someone to ask about this tree, I saw another one just like it. It too had roots busting free of the small container pot it originally grew in. These trees were probably 15 feet tall or more and their root systems had grown over the top or busted through the pots in order to seek more water and dirt in which to anchor themselves to.
These images spoke to my soul in so many ways. Immediately I was hit by the idea that this was a perfect analogy of what God wants for our lives.
Like the widow and the domesticated Fiddle Leaf Fig tree, we create are our own limitations. God is a giving God. He wants us to overflow with all His goodness and His plans for us are better than we could ever imagine. No pot of doubts and fears, not Satan himself, can hold back the plans God has for each of us. But I believe God wants us to be willing participants.
I am a lover of plants and if I am honest I love beautiful pots too. I have many filled with flowers in and outside my home. Some of them were gifts from friends and family members. Some of them were hand painted with the tiny hands of my daughter when she was in preschool. Some I lovingly chose myself and some I inherited along the way. As a stroll around my house and look carefully at each pot I also look carefully at my own soul. Some of the physical pots are chipped and faded from the weather. Some will need to be tossed after this season ends. And I can’t help but ask myself…what metaphorical pots have I placed in my soul that need to be tossed too? And if I am brave enough to let those hopes and dreams take root deep within me, just how big will they grow and what fruit will they produce?
Perhaps I may never know, but I am praying to God for the strength and courage to someday find out!