Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Orchid Parallel

For thirty years, I’ve had an obsession with growing orchids. I really hate to think about all the money I’ve wasted buying plants, potting materials, fertilizers, books, watering systems….
Could never get the environment just right. Too much light, not enough light, too cold, too dry, too wet. My mistakes were experiments in excess. With well-intentioned kindness and overbearing attention, I’ve sent many orchids to their death over the years. (If you grow orchids, you are probably questioning my intelligence at this point.)

My husband is the most amazingly patient, accommodating and enduring man on the face of this earth - for proof, look who he married! A couple of years ago, he relocated an old wooden swing set frame from the backyard to a shady home under the oak trees outside the kitchen door. We installed an automatic drip system and hung all my orchids there.

Orchids do not tolerate temperatures under 50 degrees, so every cold spell brings a flurry of activity. Remove everything from the breakfast table and bring in the orchids for the night … or the week. Depending on the projected forecast, they could stay on the table for several days or weeks. In and out. In and out. Weary of the rerun. But my history with these exotic plants reminded me of the ramifications of leaving them outside for even one cold night.

Cold and cool weather stayed on with us through early April this year. I was so ready to put the orchids on their hangers under the oak tree and leave them there until October. Being able to leave them out for several days at a time during February and March gave them a false sense of springtime. Blossom spikes began appearing with the promise of a wondrous spring display. Then the weather would turn cooler again and I’d have to bring them back inside. I was just heartsick that the budding flower spikes were so early – thinking they’d never survive this back and forth change of environment.

After the last cold snap in early April finally subsided, I put them back on their hangers under the oak tree. Within two weeks there were healthy flower spikes on five of the seven plants of flowering age. By mid-May, the blossoms started opening. At the time of this picture, one plant had 27 open blooms!

After thirty years of experimentation, I may have finally gotten it right.

I think of my spiritual growth. I think of all the times I nearly crashed and burned while experimenting with the excesses of the world. Never did get into the right environment. Never the right mix of spiritual food, prayer, and worship. My life was totally out of balance, in full tilt and headed for destruction. But the promise of God’s plan remained all along. I knew I was made for more, but just didn’t properly position myself to blossom in His garden. My roots were not strong enough to sustain me through the rough times. I neglected to come in from the cold of the world on more occasions than I care to count. That harsh environment nearly killed me. But the loving Hand of my heavenly Gardener sheltered me, never letting me die, but allowing me to be dormant for long periods of time.

Then I came to a point in my life where God showed me a crossroad. Down one road was certain death. The other road required a transformation that – up until that point - I had been unwilling to undergo. It required sacrifice and obedience. It required denial of the flesh. It required environmental control. Proper water, light and nutrition. Balance.

Funny how my life has kind of paralleled my experience with orchids.

Or maybe it’s not so funny.

There is no coincidence with God. He created all things, so it’s no surprise that He uses all of His creation to demonstrate to us His truths and remind us of His longsuffering patience and compassion for His children.


  1. Beautiful parallel....and you are right...not a coincidence at all. I am with you. I love how He speaks to us through all of creation...and how personal He is when He speaks to us.

    Blessings to you as you bloom and display His glory!
    K :)

  2. What a wonderful parallel you have painted...God is loving and patient and uses life circumstances to get our attention. God's work in our lives is soooooo not coincidental...He has a plan for sure. I enjoyed this post. Thanks for your prayers for Jordan.....I wish we could do lunch or something blessed