Have you ever stopped to think about what you can learn from a plant?
In my office back in 2008, I had a large plant called a dieffenbachia. Yes, it is as hard to spell as it is to pronounce. My wife believed this plant to be a lady so we called her Adde. Anyway, Adde taught and reinforced some major truths in my life. I know you think I am crazy for saying I have learned truth from a plant, but so was Jesus – if learning truth from nature is crazy. Most of Jesus’ parables were agrarian in nature because that was the norm in Palestine.
But like other plants Adde needs sunlight to survive. Because she is more tree-like than bush- like, she has to grow up and out to get enough sunlight. As she grows, the new leaves spring up at the top of her stalk. They slowly grow out and unfold. It’s actually memorizing to behold. Since it takes a few days for the leaves to grow and totally unfold, the process can be beautiful. There is something about newness that is attractive, provocative, and fresh.
On the other hand something else is going on with Adde. The lowest leaves on her stalk are now shadowed from the sunlight and begin to die. The slowly turn a darker shades of brown until they slough off completely. To produce the new, the fresh, the beautiful; Adde must shed off the old. If my plant didn’t shed off the old then the new would die. In essence, Adde would die completely, old and new, if she did not shed off the old. She can’t support it all and live to her full capacity.
I am sure you are already beginning to relate this to your life…your story. No, I don’t mean that you are a plant. However there are many similarities in Adde’s life as a plant to our lives as Christ-followers. What I do know is that God is always calling us upward toward His sunlight, His glory. As we grow closer and become increasingly more Christ-like in our thinking, living, and doing; we grow new beauty and a new and fresh way to live out our lives. With that in mind, we also have to shed off those things that build up and make up our past. We need to let them die off, maybe not all at once, but they eventually have to go. As with Adde, we cannot support the new and the old at the same time. Somethings has to give.
Jesus said it like this in Mark’s account of his life, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.” In other words, trying to keep both only results in losing both. Choices…Choices…life is full of them. If it were easy, would we even enjoy it? There is something great about struggle that reminds us when we make it through, that we are still here, still alive!
The new, fresh and beautiful things God has for your life require you to let go. Let go of the old, even if it is not such a bad thing. Maybe it’s a good thing. But God has great things for you. So why settle for simply good?
Irenaeus (an early church Father in the Christian tradition) put it this way, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” To be fully alive, we need to learn from my past beautiful plant Adde. She was continually growing toward the light and shedding off the old that might hinder her growth. Wisdom from a plant! Who knew.