I want to share with you some thoughts about flourishing even in the hard days of life … and about your connection with the One who knows you the best and Who loves you the most!
This is actually an excerpt from “Vibrant: Developing a Deep and Abiding Joy for All Seasons”.
“Vibrant” is my newest book that will be released in November of 2020.
I hope that these words whet your appetite and that they convince you of the restorative power of your Father!
You Are God’s August!
“August is a miraculous and marvelous month. It teeters between summer and fall with the longest and loveliest days of the year. It is the month of wildflowers in glorious bloom, sunsets vibrant in the sleepy dusk, and vegetable gardens abundant beyond measure. August sings in chrysanthemums, boasts in bachelor buttons, and shouts with sunflowers bending in the afternoon sunshine.
There Is No Place Like a Garden
Often, during the month of August, I spend a few weeks with a friend. She is actually more like a sister and loves a family garden nearly as much as I do. Every afternoon of the August fortnight that we are together, we wander out to her enormous garden and delightfully choose what to eat for dinner that night. While spending time with her, I became an expert at cutting lettuce, gently squeezing ripe tomatoes, and eyeing the color and size of cucumbers. I even discovered how to find a pepper or two underneath the verdant growth of her garden.
However, the greatest pleasure of my two-week garden experience happened when we placed the ripe vegetables and fruit of her garden into baskets and then gave the produce to others. What a treasure it is to share from the bounty of one’s garden and spread the riches of the earth with others!
Certainly, the best part of my annual visit with her is the day that we set aside to preserve the yearly abundance. Under her tutelage, I became a veritable virtuoso at canning tomatoes and making a smashing dill pickle relish. The hamburger pickles that we developed are nearly legendary. But the highlight of the long day for me was the moment when we canned peaches fresh from the trees. We knew that the labor of our love was not only going to feed our families for the winter but would also be welcome gifts for our friends.
Oh, how I love the array of colors that are visible through the formerly empty jars. And just to think—she grew it and we canned it! There is nothing quite like the delight that results from an August agricultural endeavor.
August is God’s show and tell of His unmatched creativity and strategic forethought of provision for His children. August is the moment of the year when all of creation shouts a resounding cheer to the One who created the very first garden in history.
A Perfectly Wonderful Word
As I remember those sweet days of walking the rows of my friend’s garden and as I never ceased to be amazed at the plentitude thereof, the word flourish seems to fill the sense of my heart.
Isn’t flourish a perfectly wonderful word? Let’s linger on it for a bit, and unpack the joy and hope of this lovely word. I can assure you that this will not be the only time in this book that we will dawdle over the meaning of flourish. You will discover, as I have, that the ability to flourish is a prerequisite to living a vibrant life.
Let’s pause among the sacred pages of the Bible to read the thoughts of the Holy Spirit concerning this perfectly wonderful word.
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92:12–15)
Isn’t this wonderful news? You are God’s August! You were created to flourish in the same manner that gardens are able to do so at the peak of their performance.
God made you to flourish and to inexhaustibly thrive. He did not create you with the purpose of dying on the vine of life. He spiritually designed you for emotional and spiritual abundance in every season of your life.
The plan of the Master Gardener was that you would never be shriveled up emotionally, or trampled upon by anger, depression, or worry. God’s intent was that you would not live a brittle life. Instead, you, as His vibrant creation, would live a life that flourishes.
Many definitions of the word flourish can be found in dictionaries, encyclopedias, and gardening manuals, but the one that most deeply resonates within this spiritual gardener’s heart is this particular one: “To receive life from outside yourself, creating vitality within yourself and producing blessing beyond yourself!”
When you receive life from the Father, it will create a vitality on the inside of you that is contagious and fruitful! Who wouldn’t want that?! But the purpose of the extraordinary growth inside of you is not just for you because it is intended to bless other people in your world. His life helps you to flourish and then share your life with others.
In the ancient Hebrew, flourish always refers to something or someone that is growing beyond an average expectation of growth. It was meant to describe a person or a plant that was growing and producing fruit in an extraordinary fashion. Flourish in the Hebrew paints a word picture of a plant that is destined to grow abundantly regardless of the climate or drought.
The psalmist declares, “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree.” If the Bible uses the word righteous to describe a person, it means that this person has willfully chosen to connect himself or herself to God. It does not imply that the person is perfect, but it does mean that he or she has chosen to put on God’s imputed righteousness.
You will flourish, then, in direct proportion to your connection with God. If you choose to bask in His presence on a daily basis and spend time in the Word and in prayer, your life will be a grand display of the growth that comes from your connection to His righteousness.
If you long to be God’s August and if your desire is to flourish and thereby produce delicious fruit for others, you must ask yourself a vital question: “To whom or to what are you choosing to be connected?”
Many Christians are more connected to the pain of their past than they are to the reality of His presence on a daily basis. If you hope to flourish emotionally, it matters very much whether or not you read your Bible every day. If you hope to be a vibrant display of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, it matters very much whether or not you worship in spite of disappointment or pain. If you long to share the abundance of your Christian walk with others, it matters very much whether or not you pray for those who have been unkind to you.
You will begin to grow by leaps and bounds both spiritually and emotionally when you daily receive life from the Father. The fruits of the Spirit will miraculously make you into someone who has the temperament and personality of God. When you choose to be in vital connection with Jesus on a daily basis, the life that you will receive will grow you into the person who God had in mind the day that He created you.
You must work in tandem with God in the garden of your heart. Your emotional responses to the climate around you must reflect the truth that you are in deep and rich connection with Him. The Father gives to you what you could never instigate in your own strength. You can’t do it without Him and He won’t do it without you!
You are God’s August! It is a magnificent time for you to produce such a unique abundance in your life that the world stops and takes note—and don’t be surprised if it takes a bite or two of the August that is you.
Would you pray with me today:
Lord Jesus, I want to flourish in Your garden. Father, would You use my life as a demonstration of how wonderful a life can be that is cultivated by You? I pray that others would come to me, eat the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and be satisfied and filled in Jesus’s faithful name. Amen
We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s our garden that is really nurturing us. —Jenny Uglow
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Carol McLeod Ministries