Thursday, August 26, 2021

New Life Mandeville

Three summers ago I bought a Mandeville plant, but it didn't do very well.  I took it in for the winter - it struggled through without completely dying and I put it out in the summer.  It stayed very sickly looking but, being loath to kill something that still had a few green leaves on it, I took it back inside and watered it.  It did not grow and I know it really was not worth keeping.  But, believe it or not I again put it out in a corner of my patio last spring to see what it would do...Well, the best it did is that it didn't completely die. So for the second winter I let it sit in my ensuite with its few half-yellow leaves and thin branches. 
This spring I put it out again, tucked it out of sight, where I didn't have to look at. It grew a little, but nothing that impressed me.   
Then, a miracle happened !!  

One Christmas my daughter gifted me with a book , "The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben. A very interesting book by a man who could be called a 'tree whisperer'.  One thing he said stuck with me. He said that plants communicate with each other and if two or more different plants are planted in the same space they are provoked to fight for personal growing space - becoming very competitive. They do  not do this with like-plants. 

A dear friend gifted me with a little miniature rose plant several weeks ago. Not wanting the plant to die (I do NOT have a green thumb) I thought it would do best planted outside.  Since my half-dead Mandeville plant wasn't growing anyway, I decided to plant my little rose bush in the same pot. Several days later I looked out my kitchen window and to my shock saw a cluster of super-big Mandeville leaves !  Really?  As you can see in the photo the plant suddenly took on new life and it is thriving, full of fresh new growth and even BUDS !  

I saw a spiritual lesson in this. One of God's object lessons tucked into His creation. 
I thought of the verse in Hebrews 10:24.  The old KJV has the words "Let us consider one another to PROVOKE unto love and good words."  (other translations use  words 'stir up'  'motivate' 'encourage' instead of 'provoke') But I think the word 'provoke' best fits with this object lesson. 
Just like planting the rose bush into the Mandeville pot - PROVOKED the Mandeville to suddenly grow,  so also we are called to 'provoke' one another, in love, to grow in  'good works'  and be an example to those who are watching. We cannot do this if we don't  'have close relationships with one another'. 

We have been 'isolated' or 'quarantined' for much of the past year and a half and we have not been gathering together.  And we see the 'lack' of growth.  Churches open but attendance is low.  Airlines report a sharp increase in aggressive behavior. Is this why we are admonished in Hebrews 10:25 not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together,....... and the more as you see the day approaching."? In the middle of that verse it repeats the 'provoking' thought , "exhorting one another".   

In a politically correct world mind-set we have lost that zeal to watch over our brothers and sisters to stir them up in their faith.  My Mandeville plant reminded me how important it is to 'be our brother/sister's keeper".  We need each other to grow and be strong. Alone, it is easy to become weak.

Paul, in Romans 14:12-23 spells it out how we are to live in relationship with one another - and if our relationship, our interactions  with one another are not motivated by love, then we will "destroy the work of God" ..

The apostle John's sermon is still all we need to live worthy of God's praise, "Children, love one another!"