This morning I was at the Kingwood Garden Center. This isn’t my normal day to be there. Usually, I go in on Monday, get any information and pictures for the weekly newsletter and blog post and any other marketing projects that need to be done, and everything is wrapped up by Tuesday with the newsletter scheduled to send Thursday morning.
But the owner and manager are at a trade show this week and the plants they wanted to feature weren’t in, so I suggested recording a video we had been discussing on vertical gardening. It was originally scheduled for last month, but they wanted to move the location and replant it. The owner said, “Go for it.”
The plan was to go in the next day, Tuesday, but several people were sick and they were short staffed, so Diane, the person that would be doing the video, and I decided Wednesday would be better.
So today, we had just finished testing the sound to record the video on vertical gardening and a customer had a question about a problem with his crepe myrtle. I said, “Hey, would it be okay if we video Diane answering your question?” He agreed, and so we did.
We went back and finished the vertical gardening video and just as we wrapped up, another customer had a question about a problem with their citrus trees. They also agreed to us recording a video.
As you can tell, Diane is awesome. They are all actually awesome. Between the senior staff, pretty much any question you have related to gardening, someone will know the answer.
This is what stood out to me about the questions the customers asked, the problems they had, and the answers Diane gave.
Go for the Root of the Problem
The customers had two different problems with two different types of plants. Both were focusing on the ugliness of the problem and wanting a treatment for that. In both cases, Diane told them the problem was cosmetic . . . superficial. You might not like looking at it, but it wasn’t harming the plants.
The root problem in both cases was the weather we’ve been having, specifically, the fact that we really haven’t had a real winter in Texas in the past two years.
To Everything There is a Season
Winter is a time for purging and preparing for regeneration. Old limbs die down, plants are pruned back, and they store up their energy for renewal and growth in the spring.
The second important function that winter serves is the killing off of the pests and fungus that attack the plants.
Since we haven’t had a real winter, the pest population hasn’t had a period of reduction and the problem is much more severe than normal.
She said, “We’re seeing pest problems with plants that normally don’t have a problem.”
That’s how we are sometimes. There is “stuff,” garbage, messes, in our lives that we don’t clear out. We don’t take time to connect to God, to listen to his voice, and to purge the pests . . . and then other problems start manifesting in our lives.
And sometimes we think those secondary problems are the issues . . . not the stuff we didn’t take care of in the first place.
They Thought They Were Dying
I don’t know if you picked this up in the citrus video, but there were actually two issues the man was having with his orange tree. There were leaf miners on the leaves and the orange tree also wasn’t producing fruit. He thought the lack of production was due to the issue with the leaves. But his lemon tree also had the leaf miner problem and it did have fruit.
What you don’t see in the video is his explanation of what he did to his lemon tree.
Two years ago, Texas had the worst year of drought in recorded history and the projection was that it would continue for quite some time. The drought was extended and took a heavy toll on the trees and plants in the area.
Some plants died, but the ones that survived got tough.
Then the following year, in defiance of the predictions, there was a record year of rain. The plants that survived bounced back and there was an abundance of fruit. The man with the oranges said that last year, he had a huge crop of fruit, and that was true of everyone in the area.
But not his lemons.
So someone told him to prune his lemon trees way back and trick the plant into thinking it was dying.
He had so many lemons he didn’t know what to do with them all. Even this year, when fruit production for citrus trees and a lot of fruiting plants is down, his lemon trees are still producing.
What Will It Take for You to Live for Christ?
As he was talking about his lemon trees, it reminded me of a person that came to a prayer ministry I volunteered at last night.
The person is dealing with a serious health issue and facing surgery for a condition that could be life altering, if not life threatening.
I was telling him about the healing room and the process, the difference between a healing and a miracle, how sometimes we have to walk out our healing, 1 Luke 17:11-19. New Living Translation. Biblegateway.com and the healings I have personally witnessed.
He said, “That’s what I want. I want to go for the surgery and the tumor to be gone. If that happened, then I would witness to every doctor there.”
This may not be what he meant, but what it sounded like was that was what he was waiting for to witness . . . that he has to have a miracle in order to do it.
God answers prayers. He does still heal and he does still do miracles.
I know from personal experience that this is all true.
Can You Handle a Miracle?
Ask me for anything in my name and I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me anything in my name and I will do it. John 14:13-14 NLT 2 John 14:13-14. New Living Translation. Biblegateway.com
Miracles and answered prayers demonstrate God’s love for us, but we have the authority in Christ to ask for them in order to bring glory to God.
That is the ultimate goal.
This may sound odd, but a miracle isn’t always the biggest witness.
Sometimes miracles are hard to comprehend.
Just tonight in Power Prayer, a lady shared that her daughter had been healed of scoliosis years before. She and her husband had prayed for her healing and God answered their prayer. But right now their daughter rejects God.
She has had a personal experience of God’s healing and yet she still denies him.
Even in situations where someone asks for healing themselves, received a miracle, and thanks God . . . it can still be hard to process.
When a friend was healed of the pain of rheumatoid arthritis in her knee (I mentioned in an email here,) it was hard to take in. I was at the prayer ministry that night and the presence of the Holy Spirit was so powerful that the fact that the pain was gone was almost secondary.
When I asked her about the experience and how she was doing a month later, she said that when she left she was pain free, but she almost wasn’t even thinking about it. It didn’t occur to her to check her knee for swelling until the next morning.
God is awesome and sometimes that awesomeness can be a little overwhelming for us.
Not that I’m complaining about the miracles I’ve personally witnessed. I want to see more. I’m just saying sometimes it takes awhile for your mind to wholely grasp and comprehend it.
I think the verse is a good description of it:
Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. Exodus 23:30 NIV 3 Exodus 23:30. New International Version. Biblegateway.com
Sometimes we’re not ready to handle a miracle. Sometimes a healing or another type of answered prayer that comes to a little by little, a fast yes, is more our speed as we increase in our walk with God.
What is the Bigger Witness?
But sometimes it’s not the answer to prayer that is the most effective witness to others, it’s how we respond to life’s difficulties while we are waiting on that answer.
I know someone who told me said he wanted to know Jesus after seeing the peace a coworker had after being laid off.
I was encouraged in drawing closer to God by witnessing the literal peace of God that someone brought into a room with them.
When people see someone exhibit the fruits of the spirit (peace, joy, love, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control) in circumstances that defy reason . . . sometimes that is the bigger witness.
If You’re Not Doing it Now, Will You Do It Then?
So back to the person that came to the prayer ministry last night, I didn’t ask but the question that was going through my mind was:
“If you’re not doing it now, will you really do it then?”
Because you don’t have to wait for a miracle to be a witness, you can be a witness to “the peace that passes all understanding” right now. 4 Philippians 4:7. King James Version. Biblegateway.com
The person is in a time of severe pruning. A time, where like the lemon tree I mentioned earlier, they are “scared into thinking they are dying.” I hope there is an abundance of fruit produced regardless of the circumstances.
When You’re Stressed and Confused – Find Your Rest
One other thing that kept coming up in these conversations at the garden center was the lack of production, not just for these customers but basically in the whole area.
The guy with the citrus trees said,
We had like a thousand pounds of tomatoes last year. We could feed an army. This year we had about five. My daughter’s tomatoes died. Her melons died. Even the zucchini died. How do you kill a zucchini?
Afterward, I asked Diane what she thought was causing it, and she said that she thought that because of the drought, the plants that survived got tougher. Then we got a bunch of rain and people kept water and overfeeding them and so stressed the plants out that some of them died . . . even some like Knockout Roses that are almost kill proof.
Plants are like people. They get stressed out and confused and stop producing.
If you’re a fruit producer, a Christian that’s been walking the walk and bearing witness, but you’ve been through some tough times, feel overwhelmed, and think your production days are over, don’t worry. God’s not going to pull you out and go onto someone else.
Get some rest.
He told us that there are seasons for things and maybe you are in your winter. You need to pull back, regroup, purge out the garbage, get close to him, and get ready for your next spring of renewal and growth.
- To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
- A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
- A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
- A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
- A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
- A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
- A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
- A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
- What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
- have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.
- He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
- I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives,
- and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
- I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.
- That which is has already been,
And what is to be has already been;
And God requires an account of what is past.~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 NKJV 5 Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. New King James Version. Biblegateway.com
|↑1||Luke 17:11-19. New Living Translation. Biblegateway.com|
|↑2||John 14:13-14. New Living Translation. Biblegateway.com|
|↑3||Exodus 23:30. New International Version. Biblegateway.com|
|↑4||Philippians 4:7. King James Version. Biblegateway.com|
|↑5||Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. New King James Version. Biblegateway.com|