My husband and I have been in our house twenty years now. When we first bought our property, the half acre was mostly grass, with just a row of hostas across the back of the house.
Methodically we changed that. Steve tilled up the grass along the edge of the woods and we made a rock path. Along the path I planted all sorts of bushes and perennials.
Over the years the path was extended in both directions and I made more and more of the yard into my vegetative creations.
Last weekend I started the process of rearranging the plants in my yard. Some plants have spread and overgrown their welcome. I dug up a lot of those plants and pitched them into compost piles in the woods.
Their absence created spaces that needed filling. Years ago I would take what I could get. If a neighbor or friend was digging something up, I'd take it. If I found a plant on clearance or on special at a plant sale, I'd bring it home and put it somewhere.
These days when I have a space to fill I walk around my yard and choose my favorite plants, the ones that have unique colors or leaves; the ones that stand out. And those are the plants I dig up, and carefully divide, cutting them into pieces to position in places of prominence.
Have you ever felt like God was molding and shaping you, while you tried to persevere and become more and more Christ-like? The process isn't altogether fun.
It is, I suppose, a bit like Joseph while in the service of Potiphar. The golden child of Jacob no longer was favored. He was a slave. He had to work. He was eventually in charge of the whole household. Sounds great, right? Maybe. But think about it. Potiphar's wife was after him. The temptation was real. It was the molding and shaping period.
Or what about David all those years after he was anointed to be the next king of Israel, but then went to serve Saul only for Saul to become jealous? David became the furthest thing from king. He became a fugitive living in caves and running for his life.
Or how about Esther? She was beautiful and queen, right? Yes, but that's only part of the story. The other part is her brokenness. She was orphaned and brought up by Mordecai, then confiscated to be a playgirl to the king.
It's the same thing over and over and over in scripture: look at the lives of the apostle Paul, Abraham, Daniel, Ezekiel.
Just like those plants in the garden, God plucks us from our contentment and starts cutting and repositioning and reframing our lives, not to be sadistic, but to make us stronger and more beautiful and more useful to Him. He chooses us, and then starts working to make us more beautiful than we'd ever be on our own.
Remember Esther? Those girls chosen to be brought to the king were beautiful before they were brought to the king, but then they were given the facial treatments and the scrubs and oils and everything else to make them even more beautiful. And it wasn't just for a day or two. It was every day, for twelve months.
When people look at us, and are around us, everything in our being should bring glory to God.
But that means God has to pluck the greed from our life, and the selfishness, and the worry and the unbelief and yes, even our tendencies toward sarcasm. And sometimes it feels like we're stuck in a corner for a really long time.
So light up that dark corner. When and if God wants you somewhere else He will put you there.
This weekend in the process of transplanting there was some destruction. As much as I tried to avoid it, leaves were lost.
And do you know what I did with those leaves? (Remember, these were my favorite plants.)
I gathered those leaves and I brought them into my house, and put them in a vase on my counter.
Nothing is lost with God. He uses us and then He brings us into His kingdom to be with Him forever.
Wherever you are today, whether in a corner or in the pruning process, trust the Gardener to work all things together for good. And don't worry about that haughty thistle next to you that thinks he is all that. His time is coming. He'll be thrown in the compost heap with the rest of the weeds.
But you are being carefully tended by God.