Jackie peered outside and realized she’d left her mother’s cactus plant out on the deck. It was raining, profusely. So Jackie hunted around for an umbrella before venturing out, after all, she’d just done her hair and makeup. After looking high and low in every likely place one might expect to find such a contraption, Jackie gave up.
Sorry, cactus man, I guess you’re going to have to weather this downpour without my help. As the sky continued to empty its contents for hours on end, Jackie worked around the house getting everything in order before her children were due home from their first day of school. And what a day it had been.
Beginning at 5:30 am, Jackie was up and about making scrambled egg and toast, packing lunches, and just generally overseeing everyone’s departure. Unlike other first day of school mornings, Jackie was particularly nerved up. Her youngest son was starting his first day at the high school and Jackie was strung higher than a kite. Even though her son had faired well academically in past years, Jackie felt for Blake.
He wasn’t following in his older brothers’ footsteps. Rather, in just about every possible way, Blake had taken his own road. Quiet, introspective, Blake seemed more than content to be alone. He didn’t seek out other boys his age for games of one-on-one or have any desire for a little companionship, a fact that preyed on Jackie’s mind daily. She wondered what she could do to encourage Blake to be more sociable. Thus far, nothing had been effective.
Jackie also fretted that the other kids would give her son grief because of his uniqueness, but they hadn’t. So, why the worry? Jackie realized it was her own fear of losing control over her children’s lives that was the real issue at hand. She didn’t want them, or in this case, Blake, to travel down a road she couldn’t direct from the sidelines.
Jackie had to admit it; Blake’s situation wasn’t ideal. But lacking any immediate solution, Jackie realized her sole resource was to pray. So pray she did. As she continued to complete her to-do list, the skies finally parted and the sun even peeked out intermittently. Jackie took her basement rugs outside for a good shaking and noticed how well her cactus was doing. I can’t believe it, with all the extra rain we’ve had, and my forgetting to bring you inside and you’re still growing?
Despite all the unfavorable conditions, Jackie was secretly encouraged by the tenaciousness of this prickly plant. Inspecting it yet closer, Jackie felt better about Blake’s situation too. Circumstances may be of my control, but even difficulties can become the impetus for productive growth.
“If you are slack in the day of distress, Your strength is limited.” Proverbs 24: 10
Of all things, you used a quaint, insignificant plant to teach me a lesson I’ve been bucking for months. For as long as I can recall, I’ve been living in a place of constant tension. My mother’s heart is obsessed with protecting my children from pain of any form. I cannot simply sit by and watch them stumble along without trying to direct their steps, their choices. Yet, all too often, events occur beyond my control and I become single-minded in my quest to correct, improve, or solve their problems.
Lord, I realize now that the toughest periods of life, the suffering, bring to light the faith or lack-thereof that we possess. In these times of deepest distress, we discover where our true security lies. And I must ask your pardon, for I have found it nigh impossible to relinquish my children’s cares into your hands.
Lord, for myself, I can trust you. But I resist allowing you to be Lord over my children’s lives. Please, help me to overcome this sinful lack of faith. For sin it is, you are Lord God over all, may I never forget that you love my children perfectly…in every way. Enter into my heart of hearts, I pray. Remove the doubt I cling to, and replace it with a greater faith than I have ever known.
“Don’t bother to give God instructions; just report for duty.” Editors in God’s Little Devotional Journal for Women
Copyright 2009 Michele Howe