Back a long time ago, I remember my mom trying to keep her Christmas poinsettias from one year to the next. She would place the plants in dark closets for weeks and months of January and February. She would water and try to get them to re-leaf and recolor. The work invested never seemed to make much difference and I don't recall any poinsettias ever really flourishing from one year to the next. But boy, we sure tried.
Last December, we bought a poinsettia and it was beautiful. We enjoyed it and like most Christmas flowers, I expected its shelf life to dissipate quickly. Apparently, it had other plans. We neither sequestered it in dark closets nor coddled it in any way. It sat on our elevated deck around the inside of our living room. The huge windows allowed copious amounts of sunshine to beam in on it. We watered it and did nothing else to it.
As spring stretched into summer then fall arrived, we noticed something peculiar about this Christmas 2015 poinsettia. It was bearing leaves and by November, it was beginning to change colors. What we had failed to do by the book entitled, "How to save your old poinsettia." seemed to work just well. Funny how less became more. (Note: No such book was found or referenced.)
Don't we often overthink things? Somehow, our best laid plans and hard work underachieve the hoped outcome. Trying to micromanage things is comparable to herding cats. We run to and fro and never actually corral the pesky critters or things. Not that I have ever herded cats. Cows? Yes. Chickens and turkeys? Yes. An occasional pig? Yes. Never cats. Trying to herd God makes failure even more of a possibility. Sequestering God into a safe box that we can control is first an illusion and second an exercise in futility.
Our relationship with God is often micromanaged by us. We work and strive to over think, over do, and over manage our faith. We mistake busyness with holiness. God says,
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10a, NIV)
We feel a great need to carry all the burdens of the world and Jesus says,
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30, NIV)
We wait for the next big emotional lift from some 'thing' and Jesus says,
"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6b, NIV)
During this busy Advent season leading toward a busier Christmas, let's be more like Mary and less like Martha. One attended to Jesus while the other attended to things. One was blessed and one was mentioned by Jesus as being misguided (Luke 10:38-42). Wonder if Martha had poinsettias and whether she hid them in dark closets?
"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words..." (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3a, NIV)
Today, start 'being' and stop trying to 'do' it all. You were never designed to do it all anyway. Rest in the beaming Sonshine of Christ and see if you don't flourish like a certain poinsettia sitting in our living room.
(Being begets flourishing)