Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's all about timing

There is a Christmas Cactus hanging by a window in the corner of my kitchen. For anyone who doesn't know, a Christmas Cactus is a houseplant that blooms around Christmastime. At least it's supposed to, under the right conditions.

I don't claim this plant completely as my own because I inherited it from the previous owner of my house. Dear old Mrs. Irey left behind several odds and ends when she moved out, including a portable bedside commode and fifteen jars of canned beets from 1987, but my favorite by far is the Christmas Cactus.

Anyway, as I sat at the table eating breakfast this morning, I noticed buds forming on my cactus. The buds start out tiny and white and then gradually become dark pink, and when they are about the size of my daughter's thumb, they bloom. I was pleased to see the buds because their namesake holiday is only two weeks away and if the buds are starting now, that means they will bloom at Christmas.

Right on time, just like they're supposed to. I love that.

If it weren't for other years, however, when my cactus did not bloom on schedule, I might not be able to appreciate the beauty of this perfect timing. One year it bloomed at Easter. One year it didn't bloom at all. And one year it bloomed twice but neither time was anywhere close to Christmas.

This causes me to reflect on my own life. My own "blooming schedule," if you will. When I gave my cactus the right conditions and expected it to bloom at a certain time and it didn't, I was disappointed. But there was nothing I could do. I can't make a flower bloom; that's God's job. So it is with life. We humans try to create the right conditions to achieve a desired result at a certain time, but it doesn't always happen the way we want.

So what should we do in those times? When my cactus doesn't bloom at Christmas, I sometimes glare at it and threaten to chuck it in the compost pile. "You've got two weeks to bloom if you know what's good for you," I might say. But if I were to throw it away, I would never know if it might've eventually bloomed at Easter. Or the next year. Or whenever. So even when it doesn't bloom, I keep watering it and keep hoping.

Similarly, in my life I've been questioning the timing of certain things. Things that will remain unspecified. I've been tempted to give up on them, rather than keep facing disappointment. But if I did, if I gave up, I would always wonder what blooms God might've eventually brought about if I hadn't. So I keep watering, keep hoping, and I trust that God will cause blooms to come whenever He decides.

Right on time, just like He planned. I love that.

"He has made everything beautiful in its own time." --Ecclesiastes 3:11

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