My orchid had been the object of expectation and attentive care for many months. I watched as it sent forth green shoots, only to see them turn into brown, gnarly roots with no fruit. Imagine my elation one day when a green shoot sprouted up toward the sun and within days developed some buds along its stem. My only disappointment was that it was growing at a 45 degree angle from the rest of the plant; it wasn’t going to be a picture perfect specimen. (Deep inside, we all do want perfection, don’t we!) In my haste to re-direct its growth to become a stately, upright stalk, I snapped it off and spoiled any hopes of seeing it bloom.
Jesus Christ understands growth; in fact, as the Master Gardener, He gives growth. Many of us have tried to bloom with self-effort or hasten growth in others by insisting on strict adherence to a set of rules. But rules do not invite; they separate. Their rigidity fosters pride, establishes boundaries, sets up standards for judgment of others, is self-protective, and often breaks off rather than nurtures relationships.
Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, leaves our spiritual formation (and that of our beloved) in His very capable hands. He made us; He became man and lived the human existence. In fact, He “grew in wisdom and stature …” (Luke 2:52) Jesus knows that change—real heart change—takes time; there is a season for nurture and a season for shaping and pruning. As we walk with Him, we will experience grace: the tenderness and consistency of His love and the gentle persuasion of His Spirit redirecting our attitudes and our course from self-focus and perfect performance to the suppleness of life lived for Him in the most intimate of human relationships – marriage.