Each year during the weekend following Thanksgiving my husband, Gary, and his friend, Tom, venture to Home Depot where they purchase poinsettias. These poinsettias are good sized and exceptionally priced at just a dollar. They buy the limit which is a dozen each and then we have poinsettias to distribute throughout the Advent season. Usually, one is reserved for us to use in our townhouse to add to the festive season.
This year our poinsettia sat beautifully on top of the refrigerator. Its red and green foliage complemented the Christmas tree and red stockings. Nevertheless, because of it’s location, I forgot about it. Last week Sophie asked what was wrong with our poinsettia as the colorful leaves were shriveled up. Immediately I realized that I had forgotten to water it. I noted that the shriveled leaves were the result of a neglected plant.
After watering the poinsettia, many of the leaves perked back up and only a few dead ones needed to be removed. Yet, I needed to remember to not neglect the plant any further if I wanted it to thrive.
I discovered myself thinking about the shriveled leaves of our neglected poinsettia.
Shriveled – to wither due to loss of care, to cause to feel worthless or insignificant.
Questions rose to the front of my mind: What had shriveled in my life this past year, in the last six months, or even the last month? Were there healthy practices or rhythms that I had neglected? Had any relationships begun to shrivel due to neglect, a lack of pursuit?
Just like the poinsettia began to reveal lack of care, so too do areas within our life reveal neglect when we fail to take care of life-giving practices, passions and people.
This reminds me of the biblical account of when Jesus encountered a man with a shriveled hand. A shriveled hand in Jesus day revealed hardship, disability, and loss of relationships. Nevertheless, Jesus focused on the needs of this man and chose to offer tender care. He tended not only to the physical needs of this eager soul, but the emotional and spiritual needs as well. Jesus declared the good He offered this individual when He commanded wholeness and life to the shriveled paralyzed limb.
This man soaked in the command of Jesus and responded in faith by stretching out his hand, thus experiencing healing and fullness from the Great Physician.
“Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.”
Take a moment to read this miraculous story of healing again, wondering what it would have been like to be the man with the physical malady. How would it have felt to have Jesus address you? Read it again but this time image yourself as one of the accusers in the crowd. Have you ever been so bound by rules and customs that you miss the opportunity to extend grace? Read the passage one last time as though you were Jesus. What would it have been like to offer life and goodness to this wounded man?
With the help of God Almighty, what needs healing in your life? To what shriveled practices, passions and relationships can the Great Physician “water” and breathe life? What are the “poinsettias” in your life that have been neglected and droop, shriveling away?
Give thought to these possible “poinsettias” – – –
- Your prayer life,
- Spiritual community,
- Bible study,
- Repentance and cleansing,
- Physical exercise,
- Scripture memorization,
- Contemplative reading of the Word,
- Volunteer service,
- Noticing God’s activity,
- Healthy eating,
- Maintaining a household budget,
- Connecting with extended family,
- Practicing hospitality,
- Engaging with neighbors,
- Reaching out to co-workers,
- Planning rest,
- Embracing your limitations,
- Tending to your household plants,
- Reading to stimulate your mind and heart,
- Giving thanks,
- Caring for your physical health,
- Reflecting on your days…
I never planned to neglect our household poinsettia; it just happened. We rarely plan to neglect healthy practices and meaningful relationships; it just happens. Without proper attention practices, passions and people shrivel up when we are distracted and fail to show sufficient care and consideration.
Take some time as you enter 2020 to reflect with God and notice any “poinsettias” in your life that need care to bring life and growth into the coming year.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Kai Mark Nilsen. Renew Your Life: Discovering the Wellspring of God’s Energy. Downer’s Grove, IL. 2015.
Donald S. Whitney. Praying the Bible. Wheaton, IL. 2015.
Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.
January 4 – Lakewood, CO
Hearts of Mercy Ministry, The Bridge Church at Bear Creek