Last night I gave a talk at church on "What Type of Plant are You?" It went something like this...
1. Annual - This is a plant that lasts for one season. It is beautiful and impressive and grows quickly, but it cannot withstand a harsh climate. It is around as long as things are sunny and warm and comfortable, but once the hard times come, it is gone. It is bright and flashy and a pleasure to have around, but it is not around for long.
2. Perennial - This type of plant is seasonal. You plant it once, and it comes and goes according to the seasons. It does not like the harsh climate either, so it will be dormant when things are unpleasant, but it makes its appearance once things warm up. There will be long periods of inactivity and some slow growth over the years as it comes and goes according to the climate.
3. Artificial - These flowers and plants look great, never fade, and bloom all the time, but they are not alive. They are static, without growth or movement, without roots or depth. Though they appear vibrant, there is nothing real about them.
4. The Tree - It all starts with one small seed that falls on the ground. It takes root and for the first few years, there is not much to see. This is because the nature of all plants, especially those that grow to a significant size, is to put down a strong network of roots before any shoot appears above ground. They continue to grow in every season, even when they shed their leaves, though at a diminished rate. A young sapling is fragile and at a medium rate of growth of 1 - 2 feet (in height) a year, is susceptible to breakage and damage in its first 5 - 7 years. However, if it is given a safe and nurturing environment, it soon becomes a strong and impressive feature of the landscape.
But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, [and] the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers - never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. Jeremiah 17:7-8 The Message
The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment]. [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Psalm 92:12-15 Amplified
Things we can learn from the tree:
1. Go deep first. Develop a hidden depth with God that is the foundation and source of all the things that are seen (above ground) in your life.
2. Long term thinking. Don't be tempted to settle for something quick and flashy. Go for faithfulness and steady growth over the long haul. Develop strength that will allow you to weather any storm or drought.
3. Nurture the seeds that God has planted in you and in your faith community. Protect and encourage those things that are a gift from God, that have landed in the soil of your life. Nurture the supernatural seed of the sacred love of Jesus that wants to take hold of your life.
4. Cultivate habits that promote growth. If an athlete wants to make it to the Olympics, there is a lot of hard work and discipline necessary in order to develop that kind of skill and strength. If someone wants to complete a degree at University, the disciplines of attending class, finishing assignments, and studying the materials are vital to learning what is required and completing the course. If we want to become more like Jesus, there are habits and disciplines that will help us on our way.
5. Imitate Jesus. Read Matthew to see Jesus' example and also to note his instructions.
6. Surround yourself with other trees. A forest enhances and improves the environment around it, provides many resources, becomes a habitat for other life, and adds value to the land.
What type of plant are you?
This is a tulip on the table of the condo we stayed at in Florida.