Bloom Where You Are Planted

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Bloom where you are planted…

–in the middle of wonderful circumstances
–in the middle of difficult circumstances
–in the middle of impossible circumstances

How? Lean on the expertise of God, the Master Gardener, to help you bloom.

God can supply everything we need, and He possesses a perspective we do not. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. He knows and understands our environments and appointed the bounds of where we would live and when. He knows how to nourish us in such a time as this, in such an environment as this. He possesses all wisdom and all knowledge.

He can bring water to a dry situation, remove thorns, pour in His light, revive us with the breath of His Spirit, encourage us when we are downtrodden, and bring beauty from our lives. He is able to cultivate any circumstance and bring forth a fruitful harvest.

He daily loads us with benefits and sets His eyes upon us for our good. Will we set our eyes upon Him so we can grow, and not just grow but bloom?

When we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. And He will help us bloom where we are planted.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, April 26, 2020

He Is Risen! He Is Risen, Indeed!

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On Easter Sunday, people are known to say, “He is risen!” Some will even respond to this declaration with the phrase, “He is risen indeed!”* Have you ever said these words? To whom have you spoken them? Is this a common practice in your family and church? Or are these possibly new phrases to you? What thoughts and feelings arise when you say these words? What are the ramifications of these words?

Have you ever heard of 1 Corinthians 15 being called “The Resurrection Chapter”? Read 1 Corinthians 15:1–8 and list the names of those who were able to utter the words that Jesus was risen, indeed. These people saw Jesus with their own eyes. There was living proof right in front of them that He was risen from the dead.

This knowledge brought hope and joy to the world almost 2000 years ago, and the resurrection of Jesus still brings hope and joy to our world today. And we sure do need it these days. Heartbreaking things are happening. People are in dire circumstances and desperate situations. Perhaps you are yourself. Hearts are full of questions, and fear, and anxiety. Hope is wearing thin, dwindling away, and for some people is already gone.

Was any of this happening when Jesus walked the earth? Yes. The circumstances were different, but the hearts of people are the same through all time. And so is Jesus. Jesus cared for people back then, and He cares for us today. He never changes. His heart is filled with compassion and a longing to help us through this life. He can bring hope into the darkest of times. We do not need to get to the end of the tunnel to see the light; we can see it now. He is the Light of the world.

In our times of difficulty and darkness, we only need look up and cry out. He will come to our aid. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us today through the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus left here to help us while He returned to heaven to prepare a place for those who would believe.

God is still on the move, and the return of Jesus is moving ever closer. Time is passing quickly, and we need to be ready. We are living in “post-Easter” days. We are living in “pre-Second Coming” days. Someday soon, we will be seeing Jesus face-to-face. Look up, you who believe in Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior, for your redemption draws nigh! The tomb is empty, and one day the sky is going to be full—full with the glory of God, as Jesus returns for His own.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

*See Matthew 28:6 and Luke 24:34.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, April 12, 2020

Unbound–Part 3 of 3

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Pain and suffering in life can wrap us and trap us.  It can keep us bound.  It can make us feel so numb we wonder if we are even still alive.  It can make us want to give up on searching for life.  But I want to encourage you: there is life to be found in the midst of suffering and pain.  You can be unbound and set free.  I have living proof.  I am living proof.  Seek God’s power, and you will find your proof, too.

“After Jesus’s death, people continued to seek Him. When Peter and John heard that Jesus was resurrected, they went to the tomb seeking proof. They found their proof in an empty tomb. They went away believing, with an amazing story to share with others (see John 20). Afterward, they went to find Jesus in Galilee where He had said He would meet them following His resurrection (Matt. 28:16). They were able to see the living proof they sought!” They saw Jesus unbound,  fully alive after a time of intense pain and suffering.  God’s power overcame the horrible circumstances, and that same power had been working in the midst of the horrible circumstances, even though it was not evident.

“God is at work in the lives and circumstances of His children even when we do not see it, even when the darkness of the tomb envelops us. Even when we do not see His handiwork or feel His presence, He is there. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing is impossible for Him. He can breathe new life into us and into our circumstances. We need to take some time to look around and see what God is doing in our areas of difficulty. Psalm 66:9 tells us that God holds our souls in life and does not suffer our feet to be moved. We do not have to be removed from the circumstances in order to endure or have hope; He will be our anchor right where we are. We are told to cast all of our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He hears, He sees, and His divine purposes are continuing to be worked even as these circumstances swirl and linger around us. Psalm 69:15–18 says, “Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O LORD; for thy loving-kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.” God will give us the strength to live and also endure whatever we encounter while we do. Nothing is dead when God gives it life.

There is freedom when we are unbound from the graveclothes. There is new breath breathed into us when we allow the breath of God’s Holy Spirit to fill our spirits. His light illumines our paths. The wonderful music of His voice joins us and guides us on our journeys. There are beautiful things to open our eyes to in this world: His creation, His people, and His purposes. The newness He brings is like the fragrance after the rain, fresh and clean. Our hearts can begin to beat again and be filled with passion for the lives He has called us to live. Instead of tasting the bitterness of life, which to us seems like death, we can “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8). Our vision will become clear when we see with His eyes. We will see that life is not over just because we are suffering and feel dead; we will see that we have not yet begun to live.” 2

 

1 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 56-7.

 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 31-2.

Photography by Francee Strain, ©April 2019