Bloom

Bloom where you are planted.

A high school friend of mine once gave me a gift bearing this advice. I’ve long since lost the flowery picture the words were printed on, but this small seed of wisdom imbedded in my heart long ago firmly took root down through the years.

I haven’t always followed this counsel, mind you. I’ve had dry seasons when I wasn’t much good to anybody. During those times I did not grow or offer the people God placed in my life any beauty or joy. I allowed myself to be fooled into thinking it was easier to droop, to withdraw from the warm light of human connection than to do the risky, hard work of living and loving – looking up, reaching out, giving and receiving.

By God’s design, after such a drought my thirst brought me back to the spring of all fresh, living water. And the Bible reminded me why I was planted here in the first place:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself…do this and you will live.” Luke 10:27-28.

Love God and love people – the two laws that Jesus said trump all the others. This, Jesus was saying, is what it means to bloom where you are planted.

The way to love God is to love other people, people who are just like you – imperfect, fragile, pig-headed, selfish, abrasive, disappointing, rude, wrong, weird, proud, and occasionally, hopefully ever-increasingly, loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled. And how do we love? By treating others how we wish they would treat us. Luke 6:31.

The happiest people I know bloom where they are planted. Regardless of their circumstances, they bring life, beauty and joy to their work places, families and friendships. It matters not whether they are rich or poor in the eyes of the world, diseased or healthy, young or old. Bloomers feed and water the soil of their own hearts so that they can in turn nurture the souls of others and, in so doing, are blessed.

Today, whether our sky is blue or dreary, let’s turn our faces toward the Son and bloom!

pexels-photo-207962.jpeg“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25.

 

 

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Get Rich!

Who doesn’t want to be rich? Better yet, who wouldn’t like to get rich quick?

Embarrassing as it may be to admit, instantaneous, pain-free riches are not just the stuff of childhood fairy tales, but the secret desire of many adults. Just when we think we’ve traded in our Willy Wonka dreams for a steady job with a 401K, a bomb cyclone lottery hits and our rags to riches fantasies are awakened as we ponder the ludicrously remote but theoretically possible eye-popping billion-dollar payoff of a combined Mega Millions and Powerball jackpot. Despite the odds of winning these mega-jackpots being slim and none – one in about 300 million for either one of them alone and one in 88 quadrillion to win both of them – millions of Americans have bought tickets hoping to be the lucky one.[1]

Think about it: you are 2,000 times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than you are to win the Mega Millions jackpot.[2] Yet Americans spend over $70 billion each year on lottery tickets, or $325 for every American adult. Sixty percent of lottery proceeds is returned in prize money and spent on administration costs, while the rest is added to government coffers to substitute for or supplement designated state spending.[3]

Imagine what could happen if, instead of randomly redistributing wealth to a handful of others through the lottery, every American adult instead donated $325 annually to their favorite charity? What good might the World Food Program, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, United Way, Salvation Army, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity and World Vision do with that extra $70 billion each year? As one author suggests, “Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me to live in luxury. It’s His provision for me to help others live.”[4]

Alas, Americans would rather squander money on a snowball’s chance in Hades of striking it rich than spend those dollars on a surefire opportunity to alleviate human suffering. The United States is a compassionate nation, arguably more generous than almost any other country. So, what gives? Why are we so enamored with achieving excessive personal wealth?

The answer is found in a lie that we have swallowed hook, line and sinker: money buys happiness.

Money means more, and more of everything we find pleasurable is always better. The more money we have, the happier and more successful we are, whispers this deception. Therefore, excessive wealth equals bliss. He who dies with the most toys wins. Even though experience and People magazine reveal that the richest actors, rock stars and businessmen are no happier than the rest of us, somehow, we convince ourselves that if we just had what they did, then we would be happier.

God disagrees. He says that those who find wisdom – not money – will be happy. Proverbs 3:13.

Wisdom is the most precious commodity of all. She is more profitable than silver, yields a better return than gold, and is more precious than rubies. There is nothing we desire that can compare to her. Proverbs 3:14-15.

Wisdom brings long life in her right hand and riches and honor in her left. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and all who hold her fast will be blessed. Proverbs 3:16-18. She will protect you, save you, watch over you, and guide you. Proverbs 1:3-5, 2:12, 16; 4:6.

God is the source of all wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 2:6, 9:10. To be wise is to be blessed, and to be blessed by God is to be rich.

Today, you can get rich without spending a dime. Open up a Bible and begin making withdrawals from its endless reserves of wisdom. In the case of wisdom, more is better, and Proverbs is a good place to start.

And instead of buying a lottery ticket, drop those dollars in an envelope earmarked for someone who can use them. Do this, and you will be sure to win the jackpot.

[1] CNN Money online, Chris Isidore, January 5, 2018 and August 24, 2017.

[2] Id.

[3] Fortune.com, Stephen Gandel, January 13, 2016.

[4] “The Treasure Principle,” Randy Alcorn.