Lessons From My Houseplants

by Maddy Mandall

If you are anything like me, and let’s be honest most women I know right now, you love a good house plant. Recently I’ve been spotting a few spiritual metaphors in my green flatmates, and I’m constantly reminded of them as my eyes land on my plants. I don’t know if these lessons are relevant for you right now, but if they are I hope that by sharing them you too might be reminded of the excitement, life and joy in our journey with God by beholding your latest nursery purchase!

Unlike our favourite house plants, our faith won’t thrive on neglect

The funny thing about this booming craze is that people don’t necessarily want to become gardening experts, rather they chase any plant species that thrives on neglect. My favourite house plant is my ficus elastica, you may know this species as the rubber plant. And the thing I love most about this plant? You guessed it, it has flourished with minimal care and attention.

But see the things is, while my ficus may thrive on neglect, our relationship with God does not. So often we fall into the trap of thinking, or even hoping that we can set and forget our relationship with God. We deceive ourselves into thinking that we can keep busy with all our other commitments and hobbies and our intimacy and maturity won’t be affected. This is an all-too-common misconception, because like any relationship the one we have with our Lord requires time and energy. Different seasons of life put different pressures on us, so we need to be alert and intentional about the health of our life with God. There will always be markers when we are neglecting that: we become short tempered, tired, easily irritated or overly sensitive. Just like wilted or yellowing leaves show us we aren’t tending our plants properly. Regaining our discipline or changing bad habits can feel like pulling ourselves out of bed on a cold winter morning. But if we can do so in the moments we need it we will find the deep peace, joy and hope that only comes from resting in the presence, promises and Word of God.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness – Colossians 2:6

There’s joy in the fruit of our hands, both in the garden and the Kingdom

I’ve recently tried my hand at growing tomatoes on my balcony. They have been growing what feels like a foot a week, positively sprouting out vibrant life! And you cannot begin to imagine my excitement the day I walked outside to water them, and a few small yellow flowers had appeared nestled among the leaves – I may actually get something edible out of this thing yet! I know friends that share similar excitement when their monstera sprouts a new leaf, or a shrub finally flowers. Not only is there excitement in these moments, but incredible anticipation as we watch new growth and life unfurl slowly before our eyes.

When it comes to the work we do for the Kingdom we should approach it with equal anticipation and attention. So often there is new growth and life sprouting around the service we offer our Lord and our churches. Sadly, I think we often behold those budding Kingdom moments with apathy or even suspicion, not fully convinced anything will bloom. But we serve an incredible gardener, who knows when we all need pruning, feeding, shelter, light. He works in our hearts and the hearts of those we minister to! If we trust in Him and work alongside Him, tending the fields around us we will see Him bring and incredible harvest. That should fill us with more anticipation and excitement than anything a Bunnings trip could bring us.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God’s service - 1 Corinthians 3:7-9a

Maddy Mandall oversees Worship & Connections at Wynnum Baptist Church, where she and her husband Tom call home. Maddy is passionate about teaching the Word of God in such a way that its truth for our contemporary world comes alive. She loves to worship the Lord, and is filled with joy watching everyday worship overflow in celebration as the Church gathers together.


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