God Knows How To Get The Word Out

Image of milkweed pod and seeds by HeungSoon from Pixabay

Plants are ingenious things.

They have numerous ways of dispersing their seeds to grow new plants, methods that go far beyond simply dropping a seed to the ground from the mother plant above.

Some plants sport wings on their seeds (called samaras) to enable the wind to carry them farther away from the mother tree than regular seeds could go. The maple tree uses this method of seed dispersal: once released from the tree, its seeds spin through the air like helicopters to find a new home.

Other seeds, like that of the milkweed, drift on the wind using their own downy parachutes. Dandelions do the same (much to the chagrin of those trying to maintain a dandelion-free lawn!).

Some seeds come wrapped in tasty packages, like that of the raspberry. Animals or birds eat the berry, then excrete the seed later on (along with some “fertilizer”).

The burdock plant takes another tack: its seeds have sticky hooks that attach to an animal’s fur as it passes by. The seed essentially “hitchhikes” to begin life in another location.

Another intriguing method of seed dispersal is used by the jewelweed plant. Its seed pod “explodes” when touched, flinging the seeds far and wide. It’s no coincidence that jewelweed also goes by the name “touch-me-not.”

I guess we can’t put nature in a box when it comes to seed dispersal. It uses a variety of creative ways to achieve its goal of propagating new plants.

We can’t put limits on God either.

He uses many different ways to plant the seed of the Word of God in people’s hearts.

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What Will You Grow: Fear or Faith?

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

With the arrival of spring, gardeners are faced with some difficult decisions:

What should I grow in my garden?

You only have so much square footage and only so much soil.

You have to make hard choices about what plants will be given space, and which ones you’ll have to forgo this year.

Maybe you’d like to grow dozens of pink roses in your garden plot. That’s a great idea: it would look gorgeous and smell beautiful.

But then you’d have to give up on the idea of growing a vegetable garden in that spot. You simply don’t have the space to do both.

If you dream of having a wildflower meadow in your yard, you’ll have to skip your plan of creating a formal French garden. You have enough room for one or the other, but not both.

Similarly, you only have so much real estate in your mind.

You have to make decisions about what you’ll let take up space.

What will you grow there?

Faith or fear?

They both grow in the same soil, so to speak: uncertainty.

But only one of them produces a harvest that’s worthwhile.

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Supercharge Your Prayers

Fertilized vs. unfertilized rows of maize. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

If you’re a gardener, you might sometimes look at your plants and decide that they’re missing something.

They need more “oomph.”

That’s where fertilizer comes in.

It can supercharge your flowers and vegetable plants by providing them with nutrients, such as nitrogen, that might be lacking in the soil.

With the addition of fertilizer, your plants can grow to their full potential and become as fruitful as they were meant to be.

Similarly, our prayers sometimes need more oomph, too.

But how do we give them that? How do we go about supercharging our prayers?

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The Way of Escape

Image of Jewelweed flower by jimaro morales from Pixabay

Sometimes Mother Nature can reach out and bite you.

If you’ve ever suffered the ill effects of a run-in with stinging nettles or poison ivy, you’ll know what I mean.

Both of these plants produce an unpleasant, itchy rash if your exposed skin comes in contact with them. If this happens when you’re out in the woods and nowhere near a pharmacy to buy rash cream, where do you find some relief?

From Mother Nature herself!

The wilderness might have stung you, but it also provides an effective solution.

Plants such as dock and jewelweed (also called touch-me-not) help relieve the sting from nettles and the itch from poison ivy. The sap of these “rescue” plants, when rubbed on the skin, provides a cooling, soothing effect. Native Americans have known this trick for millennia.

Conveniently, dock and jewelweed can usually be found growing in the same area as poison ivy and stinging nettles.

Coincidence? I’m not so sure.

I think God placed the “cures” near the harmful plants on purpose.

For one thing, He knew we’d need a ready remedy for skin woes when out in the bush.

Also, it illustrates a truth contained in the Bible:

When we are faced with temptation, God always provides a way of escape along with it.

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Being Cruel To Be Kind

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Sometimes, in the garden as in life, you have to be cruel to be kind.

Perhaps like me, you’ve started seeds indoors in late winter. I have a sunny spot in a front bay window where I put my trays of seeds.

I cover them while they’re germinating to keep them warm and moist. After they’ve sprouted, I check the seedlings daily in their protected nook and make sure they’re well watered.

Life for my little seedlings is sweet.

However, I’ve sometimes made the mistake of babying my charges too much. They then shoot up too fast and get “leggy”: their stems are tall but weak.

The problem with this is that when they’re transplanted outdoors, they won’t be able to cope well with the harsher conditions in the garden: the colder night temperatures, the wind buffeting them or the rain pelting on them.

What I need to do is subject the seedlings to a bit of hardship while they’re still in their trays indoors. So I’ve learned that I should blow on them or run my hand over them to simulate wind: this will strengthen their stems. I harden them off by gradually introducing them to greater temperature fluctuations and stronger sunlight. I let them feel a bit of cold.

The seedlings may not like what I’m doing to them, but my efforts will produce stronger plants that will have a better chance of surviving and thriving once translated outside. I do them no favours if I coddle them and leave them unprepared for the hardships they’ll face outdoors.

I think God does the same with us.

Sometimes He subjects us to unwelcome things in order to toughen us up and prepare us for what lies ahead. We may not like it, but He would be an unloving Father if He didn’t do so.

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The Bright Side of Storms

Photo by slgckgc on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Gardeners know that storms can wreak terrible havoc with their plant friends.

If the winds are strong enough, mature trees can be downed, leaving a gaping hole where they once stood.

In a garden, the loss of a large tree upsets the ecosystem of the area. It changes all manner of things, from the shade afforded plants in the understory, to the strength of the wind that buffets them, to the amount of rain reaching the ground. The entire microclimate is affected.

But the subtraction of a tree also presents new opportunities for a gardener.

Suddenly, more sunlight and rain can reach the area. There is space now for new plants or trees to grow that couldn’t before. Where once the gardener was limited to plants suitable only for shade, now he or she can consider roses, vegetables or other sun-loving plants.

So I suppose a storm’s effects aren’t always strictly negative for gardeners.

But what about the storms of life? Is there anything good that can come when some disaster leaves a gaping hole in our lives?

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God Hasn’t Changed A Bit!

Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plant. Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA-3.0

Some flowers have a trick up their sleeve (or up their petals):

They’re able to change colour.

I recently noticed a beautiful flowering plant heavy with pink blossoms in a neighbour’s garden. When I walked by several days later, I saw that some of the flowers had turned a lighter creamy colour as they matured. I did a double take and had to make sure I was indeed looking at the same plant as before.

Other flowering plants have the same ability to surprise us with shifting colours.

Among them is the aptly named “yesterday-today-and-tomorrow” plant. This tropical shrub has short-lived flowers which change colour as they age. They start out as purple, then shift to lavender and finally fade to white before dropping from the plant.

While flowers that change colour can delight and surprise us, sometimes we need something unchanging and constant in our lives.

Isn’t it good to know that we can count on God to always remain the same?

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Do Not Disturb?

Columbine Flower. Image by Paul McGowan from Pixabay

Gardeners know that every plant species has its own personality.

Some are easygoing and low maintenance; they’ll happily bloom wherever you plant them.

Others, however, are stubborn and picky. They simply will not cooperate when you try to transplant them.

When they’re comfortably settled in the soil they call home, they’re highly resistant to being moved. They might as well have a sign hanging on their branches that says, “Do Not Disturb.”

I found this out the hard way with some columbines in my yard. Try as I might, I can’t get them to transplant successfully to another location. It’s like they’d rather die in protest than go along with my plans.

We may not want to admit this, but some of us are a lot like my columbines.

Sometimes God wants us to make a major change in our lives to carry out His purposes and plans. It may be to change where we live or what we do.

But we often stubbornly resist His instructions. We dig in our heels in protest at any unwanted disturbance to our lives, even if we know the new course of action is something God would like us to undertake. We simply refuse to cooperate or obey.

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The Cutworms Of Our Lives

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

If you’re a young seedling trying to survive, the worst thing that can happen to you is to be set upon by a cutworm.

Gardeners know this all too well. We start seeds indoors early in the season, with grand visions of the sturdy and beautiful plants they’ll eventually become. We baby the seedlings and give them just the right amount of water and light to set them on their journey to a bright future.

But then, soon after we’ve planted the seedlings in their forever home in our garden, disaster strikes.

The dreaded cutworm arrives in the night and stealthily attacks our precious young plants. It eats through their tender stems at ground level, cutting them off at the knees, as it were.

When we eagerly bound outside in the morning to check on the progress of our young charges, we’re confronted with a garden plot that has been laid waste in the most cruel way. Severed young plants lie helplessly wilting, cut off from the roots supplying them with sustenance. There is no hope for them now: they will surely die.

What makes it worse is that the cutworm hasn’t even bothered to eat the whole seedling, like a rabbit would: it seems to have acted out of sheer spite.

The cutworm has done its worst, and all we can do is mourn.

I’m overdramatizing this, of course, but the frustration, anger and sense of powerlessness gardeners feel when faced with the cutworm’s nefarious deeds are very real.

Even if you’re not a gardener, you’ve probably experienced emotions like these in your life. I’m sure we all have.

Because there will always be people trying to cut you down to size.

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What’s in a Name?

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pixabay

As a gardener, I must admit that I prefer using the common or folk names for flowers. These sometimes-ancient names are often whimsical and enchanting, like “Miss Willmott’s Ghost,” whose origins we explored last week.

Who wouldn’t love calling flowers by such names as cherry pie plant, lady’s slipper, love-in-a-mist, baby blue eyes, bachelor’s button, quaker ladies, whirling butterflies, johnny-jump-up, busy lizzie, or candytuft? It makes the heart sing to use endearing names like these.

The scientific or botanical names for flowers, on the other hand, can seem daunting. They’re usually derived from Latin, and while they can give a more accurate description of what a plant’s nature is, they can sound a bit intimidating to my ears.

In fact, some botanical names actually sound like a disease:

“Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got Scabiosa again.”

“That’s nothing! You should see my sister’s Myosotis: it’s rampant.”

“You don’t say! But did you hear about Kelly? She’s got Nepeta nervosa.”

“No! Is she seeing a psychiatrist for that?”

(In case you’re wondering, Scabiosa is the botanical name for the pincushion flower; you might know Myosotis better as the little blue forget-me-not; and Nepeta nervosa is a type of catmint.)

I’m so glad that we have the opportunity to use informal names for the flowers we cherish.

In the same way, believers have been given the great privilege of using a remarkably intimate name for God: “Abba Father.”

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