At our office, my wife and I normally have a vase of flowers on one side of the reception desk, and a rather large cheese-plant on the other. There is a marked difference between the two.
The plant is constantly changing. New leaves sprout every few days and the plant is in danger of becomint too heavy for the desk holding it over time. Certainly it will need a larger pot and more soil for nutrient before too much longer.
The vase holds flowers, often roses, but flowers most weeks. We place them as an arrangement and watch them open and the colours present a splash of vibrant hues into the room. After a week r so, we take them from the vase and replace them with fresh stems.
The difference is simple. The plant is alive, growing and changing. It is adapting to its environment and expanding. The flowers are dead. They were dead when we put them into the vase.
There is a story of an aristocrat sentenced to death during the French Revolution who believed those whose head’s were cut off maintained “consiousness” for a short time after the guillotine fell. Anne Boleyn had been said to continue praying after the sword severed her head, mouthing silently. He requested as a final experiment that one of his friends watch hie face after the beheading. He, for his part, would blink hard for as long as he was able. The reports vary, but the general consensus of the witnesses was that the blinking continued for around 30-40 seconds after the blade fell.
Our flowers are no different. They were alive attached to the plant, dead after removal. They retained a semblance of life – the petals, leaves and scent – for some time after the cutting, they drew water up, but they were dead. No new shoots, no new buds. Only decay.
We are no different, except in one way. We get to choose. We can choose to be cut flowers in a vase, or to be a plant, growing and changing over time.
“ I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19,20)
We have the choice, given to us by God, to decide to follow Him and be a plant in His garden, or to reject Him and His Life. God will not interfere with our choice. He will not force us to choose Him and His path. Even after we are Born-again, He doesn’t force us into His will. We can choose to be cut stems, or allow Him to fully grat us into his life.
I used to grow roses, and one of my favourite things was to find a strong and healthy root from any variety, and taking a shoot from another strain with beauty but a weaker root system and grafting them together. It’s a tricky process, but the strong and established rootstock will maintain the grafted shoot. I managed to develop a single root with 3 different grafts being fed by it.
I used roses, Jesus used vines – the same principle. A weaker stock with unhealthy roots (us) can be grafted onto a strong root (Jesus) to allow it to produce fruit.
On our own, we are dead flowers waking for the day we are tossed into the bin or onto the compost heap. Inviting Christ allows us to grow and become moulded by His life flowing through us and producing the fruit He would have us produce.
So there it is. Growth or Death.
And it’s up to us to decide.