Before we moved from our old house–into what is actually an older house–my husband and sons and I took a walk around our neighborhood, saying good-bye to the places we’d enjoyed while living there. We prayed a little as we walked, thanking God for the lake where we had fished; for the tree that the boys had climbed; for the parking lot where we’d played dodge ball.
I felt it was an important way to mark this big transition in our lives–at least, it felt important to me. I had made so many memories while living in that taupe-colored, two-story townhouse. I suppose I needed–as they say–closure.
One of our last spots to stop and photograph in our old neck of the woods was a row of hibiscus trees. For a few years, from the time they were planted, I had watched those plants grow. Walking to the mailbox or to our neighborhood pool, we would pass those thriving bushes, and at times, I felt surprised at how big they’d gotten. At some point, seeing those hibiscus trees reminded me of my boys–and of how I wanted them to grow up big and strong (in character and spirit, not just in body) and how I wanted them to flourish and how I wanted them to put down deep roots.
So I let those flowering bushes be a reminder to me to pray for my boys–to pray that they will thrive, that they will blossom, that they will sink their roots down deep into Jesus, the firm foundation–that they will abide in Jesus, the living Vine. All those things I wanted for my boys? Those flowers reminded me to pray for that, not just want it.
Sometimes I get discouraged or weary thinking about how far we have yet to go in my boys’ learning what they need to learn while they still live under our roof. In my home school days, occasionally I feel a heavy heart-burden when I consider how much reading and spelling and handwriting we have yet to master. But those very thoughts just demonstrate how much I forget to look at how far they’ve come: They can tie their own shoes! They put away their laundry! They are potty independent!
The reminder of those hibiscus trees applies here, too. Those plants didn’t make themselves grow. They stretched up to the sun, absorbing the light, soaking up nutrients in the soil–doing what they were created to do.
Just the same, I don’t make my boys grow and develop. I point them to the Son, shine light into their lives, and provide a nourishing atmosphere where they (hopefully) soak up a lot of love. And, sure enough, they grow.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote about how one might plant, another might water, but God alone causes the growth. In those hibiscus, and in my boys…