Like a vast array of of parachutists descending from an airplane, seeds travel the wind currents and gentle breezes of the earth, possibly colonizing a distant mountain slope, a fertile valley, or perhaps your back yard. Literally hundreds of species in many plant families have adopted this remarkable method of dispersal.
As believers in Jesus, the method by which God disperses us in the world is also remarkable. Instead of blowing in the wind, we are moved by the Spirit. You see, we are carried by the Holy Spirit to various locales, in order to bloom where we are planted.
Jesus, while explaining the new birth to Nicodemus, refers to this move of the Spirit:
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit”(John 3:8).
Sometimes, we are easily grateful for how and where God plants us. But there are times and seasons in our lives where we are not ‘where we want to be.’ In other words, we may be currently planted in a locale, job situation, or life circumstance that is not desirable…or what we would choose. The planting of God may be a moment in time, or a season of life. Perhaps you find yourself in that situation today. If not, just wait. Soon enough you will be!
It was July 2008. A missionary friend of mine named Susan and I were handing out gospel literature at a public outdoor concert in a Long Island (NY) park – a place where the ministry we served with had experienced first amendment issues in the past. We were illegally detained and Susan willingly was arrested for trespassing – so we could go to court. While being held by the authorities, we had a chance to witness to law enforcement officials and give testimony about Jesus. Later, in a court of law, our ministries’ 1st Amendment right to distribute literature in that park was upheld.
As Paul and Silas are engaged in ministry, we examine a fascinating occurrence where they bloom where they are planted. In this case, they are planted behind the bars of a prison cell.
After delivering a fortune telling slave girl from a spirit of divination, her masters create a riot which results in Paul and Silas being put in jail (Acts 16:16-24).
While there, the two are praying and singing hymns of praise to God, as ‘the prisoners were listening to them’ (Acts 16:25). And not just the prisoners, but apparently the prison guard was also listening:
Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:26-30)
I find it remarkable that seeing the prison doors open, the prisoners didn’t run for it! Now, we don’t know what Paul and Silas may have shared with the prisoners, but obviously, there was a powerful influence upon them.
Upon hearing the ‘word of the Lord’ (Acts 16:31-34), the jailer and his entire household are baptized!
What happens next is confounding:
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.” So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace” (Acts 16:35-36).
What? Let them go? We don’t know about the other prisoners, but Paul and Silas willingly stay in the jail overnight – at least whatever is left of it!
You see, Paul and Silas had been jailed illegally. For they were Roman citizens. And now they were being released and exhorted to leave the city (Acts 16:37-39).
You could say, that in one sense, the sovereign hand of God was orchestrating all these tumultuous events for the jailer and his household to be saved. And I even wonder about the prisoners. You see, God planted Paul and Silas in a jail so they could bloom – be a witness for Jesus!
Now when Susan and I were detained illegally in 2008, it would be great to tell you God worked miraculous signs and wonders and people were saved. That was not the case.
But I can tell you there was great comfort knowing God had a plan in the planting – for we certainly were given an opportunity to be a distinct witness for Jesus.
God has a plan in the planting of your life. It may be in a moment of time, or a season of life. For “there is a time and purpose for every season under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). What is that plan, you wonder? To bloom, of course! The blooming being a distinct witness for Jesus in your unique sphere of influence.
You see, where you live, work, shop, go to school, travel – wherever God has you planted at any particular moment of time or season of life – you have a grand opportunity – an opportunity to bloom! And while it can be in the midst of ‘want,’as we’ve highlighted, it can also be in the midst of ‘plenty.’ So, regardless of whether the planting be a moment or season that is ‘uncomfortable,’ ‘desirable,’ or otherwise in our estimation, take advantage of the opportunity to bloom for Jesus!
Lord, thank You for planting me where You have chosen. May I bloom for Your glory. Amen.