Wherever You Are Planted

“Blooming Fields,” ©Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Necessity birthed creativity.

Since my parents had little money, they taught me to create rather than buy stuff.  As a family, we made do with hand-me-downs and “Penny Saver” finds.  Life had planted us in some  difficult financial circumstances.

Yet, Mom and Dad remained upbeat.

In jest, my dad always bragged that he bought new socks once every 25 years whether he needed them or not.  My dad’s mother, an immigrant to America during World War I, had obviously taught him the fine art of darning socks.

At the very least, it could be said that Dad and Mom’s finances were a bit thin.  And only by virtue of Dad’s “fix-it” skills did they keep everything going.

But I was completely unaware of the potential financial tsunamis my mother feared as she leaned over the old mahogany secretary desk to make careful marks in her large, black ledger.

My dad always bragged that he bought new socks once every 25 years whether he needed them or not.

When I came home with tales of the new toys I’d spied at school friends’ homes, Dad encouraged me to make my own.  And I learned from Dad that there was nothing I wanted that couldn’t be constructed from whatever we had on hand.

Yeah, there was nothing material that a little duct tape couldn’t remedy.

I especially remember being enamored with a carry-along, doll house.  I wasn’t really interested in dolls–just the doll house. Miniatures fascinated me.

Thus, one Saturday morning over Kellog’s Rice Crispies I described the carry-along house to my father.  In response to my daydream, he pulled out a miraculous cardboard box, an Exacto Knife and of course, duct tape.

Using the tape, he attached a cardboard roof, and cut a drop-down flap that could be secured shut with the simple turn of a paper fastener.

Soft nylon rope, strung through holes in the box top, served as the case’s handle.  And Crayola added the necessary, finishing touches–that pop of color.

I was as proud of the finished product as any child who had received a pricey doll house.  Actually, more proud.

My dad and I created that doll house with love.  We laughed and shared the joy of creativity together.  And time with Dad was worth more than all the store-bought, doll houses in the world.

Unfortunately, I starting doubting that valuable wisdom in high school.   I longed for store-bought clothing like that of my friends.  And with earnings from part-time jobs, I purchased stuff.

There was nothing material that a little duct tape couldn’t remedy.

Don’t get me wrong. Working hard or trying to improve oneself can be a good thing. The apostle Paul, in fact, admonishes, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” (Colossians 3:23).

But when those things draw my attention away from Abba, the “worries of the world” begin to strangle my faith, (Matthew 13:22).

At some point in life, the lure of “more,” or “new and improved” plagues us all.  Often, we long for positive things.

However, as we compare our circumstances to others,  an impatient and discontented spirit may grow. Then, faith falters.

Scripture records a whole host of saints who have fallen prey to the unhealthy “I wants it”: Adam and Eve, Cain, Lot, Rachel, Achan, King Saul, David, Solomon, John and James–the sons of Thunder, and of course, Ananias and Sapphira. Each wanted something different–knowledge, approval, wealth, success, love, power and prominence.

But for each, trouble began with seeds of discontent.

Discontent invariably makes a mess. I know this.

Even so,  the monster “Malcontent” periodically rears its ugly head.  And I find myself impatiently running ahead of Abba.

That always spells big time trouble.

Scripture records a whole host of saints who have fallen prey to the unhealthy “I wants it.”

Fortunately for both you and me, God “gives greater grace,” (James 4:6). He is, after all, a compassionate High Priest.

Indeed, Christ understands our weaknesses and the pressures we face.  His first temptation in the desert–to turn stones into bread–capitalized on his human needs.

Yet, Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,'” (Matthew 4:4).

From the outset, His earthly circumstances did not promise much.  Our Savior had planted himself in difficult soil when He took human form.

His response? He focused on His Father.  He trusted His Father to supply what was needed at the proper time.

Me?  Well, I wish I could say that I follow my Savior in all things.  But I have a long way to go. As it is, I frequently resemble Sarah.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, became discontent as she waited for God’s promise.

Yes, they had waited.  And waited. And waited some more.

Then, seeds of discontent began to sprout.  I imagine Sarah began to wonder if she had misunderstood God’s promise.  She impatiently began to scheme.  She may have excused her behavior with the thought that God wished her to actively forward His plan.

Thus, instead of persevering in faith, she took matters into her own hands, (Genesis 16).

And her plan sowed long-term trouble (Genesis 21).

Despite Sarah’s failures, our God remained true to His promise. Grace trumped Sarah’s discontented disaster.

Me?  Well, I wish I could say that I follow my Savior in all things.  But I have a long way to go.

Sarah, nevertheless, reaped ongoing heartache. Her plans had not satisfied her need or hopes, but rather had created a monstrous and complicated mess.

Alas, I certainly have been there and done that.

Ignoring God and going my own way is like that. It’s tremendously empty despite what the world promises; it’s an endless chasing after things and transformations that never seem to fulfill. In fact, the pursuit often makes things worse.

Perhaps like me,  you’ve periodically pursued Madison Avenue’s mirage instead of Abba’s Living Water.   It’s easy to become distracted by the “worries of the world.”

Even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wandered.

Yet, as I noted here, Solomon concludes Ecclesiastes with hope: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Pondering Solomon’s conclusion, I realize that in this instance my interaction with my earthly dad particularly parallels my relationship with my heavenly Father.

You see, the cure for my childish discontent was time with my dad.

And this leads me to a simple truth…

When Abba and I creatively approach life together, I find peace and contentment.  What I do with Him has greater value than anything I attempt on my own.

Paul wrote, “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4: 11-13).

When Abba and I creatively approach life together, I find peace and contentment.  What I do with Him has greater value than anything I attempt on my own.

Herein lies the key:  discontented in the “whatever” life hands us or in the “wherever” our journey takes us, we need only talk to our heavenly Father about it.

We may not like our current circumstances. Yet, He gives grace and peace that surpass all that you and I long for…

He leads beside still waters and restores the soul, (Psalm 23:1).

In Him, we shall not want.  He is Living Water.

In His time, He graciously provides all that we need.

Indeed, as we wait for His plan to unfold, Abba will show us how to create beauty from the “whatever” we encounter “wherever” our walk with Him takes us.

Without a doubt, you and I will find greater joy in what we do with Abba  than anything this world can give.

And in Him, we find grace sufficient to bloom wherever we are planted.

And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

~2 Corinthians 12:9-10