Have you ever felt like something picked you up and plunked you down somewhere else, much like tornado does when it swirls through a town? Have you ever just been lost and not sure where you are or how you got there? (As noted in a prior post entitled “The Elongated Trip”, my being somewhat lost is not unusual, at least in terms of directions and routes. But that’s not really what I am thinking about today.)
I am thinking about how events, people, trials and blessings all worked together to put me where I am even though there were upheavals in every sense of the word during the process. I guess the question becomes “What am I to do after an upheaval has created chaos and made a mess of my plans for my life?”
Our house has never been the garden spot in the neighborhood. If we ever had the “best garden” award in the front yard, it would be because someone swiped it from the deserving house and got tired of carrying it, so he plopped it down at our house to get rid of the load. We did have some tulips in the dirt below the picture window and a few of them would pop up in the spring, but it hardly deserved the title of landscaping. Along the street, the yard was barren due to the surplus of leaves that pile up in the fall, killing the grass beneath.
We finally decided that we would do something about it. A bobcat was brought in and we dug up and hauled off the old dirt, rocks, dried up bushes, etc.
New soil and new bushes and shrubs were brought in for a coordinated landscaping effort. A new sidewalk was installed. No rock was unturned and no plant remained. In a matter of weeks, we had a landscaped yard!
Next spring, we looked out the window to see the new plants with their spring foliage, and there they were! Tulips ‐‐ a “leftover” from the plantings that had languished in the dirt for decades below the front window. These delightful red tulips were in full bloom with the new shrubs as their backdrop. They didn’t know they weren’t supposed to be there … they just did their thing – they bloomed where they had been planted.
How could they possibly still be there? The bobcat did all in its power to scoop out every bit of the dead dirt and roots of shrubs and flowers. It hauled off multiple scoops of debris from that, loosely described, “flower bed.” But somehow, the scoop missed the tulip bulbs.
Somehow the bobcat’s tines missed the flowers’ roots and they held tight, embedded so they could bloom in the spring. Somehow the new shrubbery did not overwhelm the simple tulips that had survived the onslaught of redesign.
Out of place? Perhaps. They are the only “flowers” not attached to a shrub, but I am not moving them! Does God care that the tulips were attacked by a mechanical bobcat and did God put His hand on the little bulbs for protection so they would bloom again? I guess theologians and academics could debate that question.
Scripture teaches, and I personally believe, that
- God knows the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30 ),
- He remembers the sparrows (Luke 12:6) and
- He called the plants good (Genesis 1:11-12).
Given these absolutes, I believe that He protected the tulips for His purposes. Perhaps they were saved from destruction so that He could remind me that I, too, need to bloom where I find myself — even if it is the result of what I perceive to be an upheaval and is a long way from where I started and from what I thought I would be doing.
Upheaval in our lives can come in many different forms ‐‐ a loved one’s death, divorce, cancer, loss of employment, disappointment, forces of nature, declining health due to aging, downturn in finances ‐‐ but no matter what the occurrence or how long it persists, the end result is that we are in a different situation or surrounding.
Scripture says that God is sovereign and all-powerful – He knows us and what will happen during each of our days, even before we were born! (Psalm 139:16) (I love Psalm 139!)
So, while the result of upheaval in my life may make me feel uncomfortable because, as a result I am in an unfamiliar situation, it cannot be something of which God is unaware. Our circumstance does not take Him by surprise, nor does it present a problem or situation which He cannot handle. Think about the “upheaval” that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego experienced in the fiery furnace. God not only protected them, He walked in the furnace with them. Daniel 3:25.
No matter where we find ourselves when the dust of upheaval finally settles, you will find that God is still in control and that He was in the situation with you even when you could not see Him. If you find upheaval distressing you, remember the steadfast tulips; they are beautiful in front of the shrubbery backdrop that God provided for them.
By God’s grace, you too will beautify your new circumstance with His love shining out to those around you! Praise the Lord and bloom where you are planted … even if you are the only one, you will still be a witness to God’s love, providence, grace and sovereignty!
Father, forgive me when I rebelled and struggled against Your bobcat as You were rearranging my life for Your purposes. Forgive me when I was unable to comprehend any good coming from the pain of the situation. Forgive me when I griped at the circumstance and refused to look to You for wisdom. Thank you for Your grace, patience and unrelenting love. Thank you for being present with me in the upheaval even though I did not recognize it, and thank You for changing my world, and me, even if it took a spiritual bobcat to accomplish the task.