It’s hot and sunny in the South and our Magnolia trees are in full bloom. I have several on the outskirts of my backyard and even one, whose blooms are seen through my breakfast nook window. They have become one of my absolute favorite trees, since living in the South for almost 12 years now. Magnolia’s line our streets, adorn our walls on plaques, and even name sweet southern restaurants. But long before they became the beautiful flower that they are, they were just a seed and an idea for someone to plant.
I was reminded of this very process as I started this blog. I felt the name “Flourish” literally spoken to my heart as a gift from heaven itself. It was just an idea, a little seed planted, if you will. But what has happened in my own heart during this time (about 10 months now), has been really special. I have felt God speak words of truth through His word and through ordinary every day occurrences where I see Him in my home and in my children.
Being a stay-at-home-mom brings moments of great joy and mountain top victories, but also at times-absolute boredom for my mind. I love to dream with people and hear ideas. I love to be challenged by people smarter than me and especially by those who love Jesus relentlessly. Those are the kind of people I desire to be challenged by, but most days, I’m at home in the monotony of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Cheerios falling on the floor. Some days, I look at my life and wonder if it matters in the grand scheme of things.
Then God reminds me: “The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.” I began to dig into who these “cedars of Lebanon” were and I loved what I found. Maybe we’ll talk about palm trees another time.
Cedars of Lebanon were of large stature, some growing up to 80 feet tall, but they grow very slowly. It’s documented in several places that people enjoyed having them surrounding a property because of the pleasant fragrance they exude in a gentle breeze. Cedars were used for boat construction, because of their stability to hold heavy loads. Their branches reach far and wide, providing shade by simply being and because of their steadiness, they were highly desirable in building.
With this information in mind, it’s no wonder why King David chose cedars of Lebanon to build his palace. (2 Samuel) They were brought in specifically for this luxurious work. Then later, his own son Solomon, would use these same trees to build the very majestic temple that God himself would dwell in. (1 Kings 7) Solomon would also use the cedars to build his own palace.
It hit me as I thought through these uses in scripture: this little seed planted, watered and grown over many years would be the very place where God would dwell. This was significant work and it took a lot of time. And this tree was what David used to describe godly people.
But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. Psalm 92:12
Today, you might feel like the seed, who is buried underground where no one can see you. You feel forgotten and insignificant and you wonder if anything you are doing even matters. Or perhaps, you are “watering” and “watering” and you wonder if it’s doing any good or if you’re just going to end up with an over-watered and wilted “plant”. Sometimes, with my kids, I’ve felt like the monotony would kill me (yes, I’m dramatic like that) and then the Lord reminds me that it’s in the long and tiring days that He is indeed working all of this together for our good.
Teaching children to brush their teeth, teaching them to be kind, teaching them the Word, teaching them to be respectful, breaking up fights, kissing boo-boos, showing them how take care of their own plate, disciplining with the desire to lovingly repair a hurt relationship, and how to get their arm into the “right” hole while getting dressed for goodness sake!-all of this is the hard and difficult work that an intentional parent will do-and you know what? I wouldn’t trade any of it…well, maybe just occasionally.
What I am learning through the fatigue and the desperate moments is that God is doing a huge work in my own impatient heart. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for His word. As His truth is put before me, I am refocused.
It takes years for a cedar to grow to full maturation…just like us. We want results quick and we complain when it takes 3 seconds for the internet to upload a page. Some days I want to fast forward through the tantrums and get to the part where my children are kind, self-sufficient adults-that’s going to happen, right??! Oh, but I would miss so much! I’m convinced that it’s these long and sometimes boring days where my mind isn’t as stimulated as I would like, that God is doing a great work, not just in their hearts, but mine! I need to deal with tantrums, whining, and peanut butter smeared on my clothes. It’s much of what God is using to refine me.
I want to Flourish! So today, I plant a seed and tomorrow, I water it and then I keep watering it. Slowly, I am growing tall. And one day, all the “cedars” I’ve planted (ie. children, ministry, friendships and love) will provide some bit of shade to me. They will stand tall and represent years of hard work and toil. And I believe that they will be used for significant works like the cedars of Lebanon, who housed the Lord himself.
*picture and cedar information from bibleplaces.com