Saturday, March 22, 2014

About a Cabbage Plant

Last week one of my daughters, Emma,  brought home a small cabbage plant. It is a contest for kids to see who can grow the biggest cabbage from these tiny plants. Now if anyone could grow a plant, She could. She has every resource there is considering that her daddy grows plants for a living! Determined to win, she suggested that we plant the cabbage in our greenhouse where the conditions for growth are perfect. That would grow a nice, big plant....but I advised her that planting it outside would be best.

After many years in the greenhouse industry, I have learned by watching that our strongest and most hardy plants are often grown outside. I told Emma that if she plants it outside, the elements around it will help to make it a very strong plant. It needs the rain and wind and sun and cold above the soil to cause it's roots to grow deep, and it's stem to become strong. The elements, plus nourishment from water, sun, and fertilizer...cause the plant to grow strong. My words came out as information to my daughter about growing her cabbage plant, but they sank into my heart as I realized that the elements of my life and my children's lives are producing in them deep roots and strong stems. The deeper they seek, the stronger they become, the better they can withstand the storms and challenges of this life.

Later that day, my words returned in a visual image of my friend. She opened the door for me slowly and spoke in labored tired words. She was happy to see me, yet couldn't show it the way she used to. We rested on the sofa, a place that had become too familiar to her. She is laden with the return of cancer and treatments that consume the strength within her. She uses everything she has to accomplish the minimum requirements for each day. I saw the way the elements had beaten her, but I saw more. I saw a cabbage plant pushing it's roots deep into the soil in search of nourishment from the richest soil. I saw a core, that was growing thicker, preparing to support a bountiful fruit.

As a small child, I love the song "I shall not be, I shall not be moved.....just like a tree planted by the water, I shall not be moved." I often admire the large, tall, thick, and gnarly old trees in the area. They are the ones that seem to make it through the worst of storms! That doesn't mean that they haven't been broken by storms in the past...their scars reflect the days gone by. Those trees are impressive! They have tremendous shade in the summer heat, and are a refuge for many creatures.

Back to the cabbage plant. Back to person God wants me to become. Back to the streams of water that run deep below the surface. Back to the storms that batter what lies above the ground. Back to the stem which responds to the elements around it by reaching deeper and growing thicker and stronger. The cabbage grows it's foliage first, it strengthens it's core, and pushes the expanse of roots deep for the end result of fruit. The stronger the plant, the greater the result of it's labor!

I have an image of my friend. I see her roots growing deep, her core growing stronger....the foliage is week and beaten down, yet it will be restored, and fruit is growing and will will be bountiful! Others will reap the bounty of her strength. They will seek comfort in the shade! She will be a source of strength and encouragement for others as they begin to grow and to recover from their storms. I feel myself. I have been beaten, yet the roots are growing deeper, my stem is growing taller and thicker, and there is new growth around the broken pieces. It is gnarled and doesn't look the same as before. My scars draw attention to others, and they take refuge in the bits of shade that I am beginning to provide. My roots grow deep. Deep into streams of healing water. Streams of Christ's unfailing love. He is the nourishment from deep within. And, I sing again....I will not be...I will NOT be moved. Just like a tree standing by the water, I will not be moved!