Nature shouts His glory

Growth needs to be directed and maintained

Having a few different hobbies keeps me very busy. Thankfully most of my hobbies require little to no effort to enjoy, except one. By far the most time consuming and enjoyable hobby that I take part in is growing bonsai trees. Yes, I know what you are probably thinking right now, “Oh, like Mr. Miyagi?”. Yes, bonsai trees were popularized by the movie The Karate Kid, but that is not the reason I became fascinated with these almost whimsical plants. 
I was browsing my Facebook feed one day and came across an image of a man holding a clay pot in the palm of his hand. Inside of that pot was a small tree that looked as though it was well aged and had a thick trunk to show how old it was. I became awestruck by this image and was captivated to the point of going crazy over the other images I found of these delicate and beautiful plants. So about three years ago, I purchased a small kit to grow a tree from seed. 
The past three years have been filled with learning, loss and love. Let me explain what each means:

Learning is essential

I have always had an affinity for growing plants, but there is a huge difference between having an affinity for something and knowing how to do it very well. I quickly realized that once I began this journey, I would not be able to take it lightly. Trees in nature grow with what God gives them, but bonsai trees have no other source of care then what you provide them with. This means daily watering, keeping pests away, fertilizing the soil on a regular basis to replace nutrients and trimming back branches so that the tree grows in the direction you desire. 
You see, I did not learn all of these things overnight. I spent roughly the first year of my hobby pouring over books and online articles learning about different species of trees, how they grow, where they grow and how to make them thrive. Each species is different in its watering, lighting and feeding requirements. These are all essential things that I HAD to learn in order to keep my trees in great condition.

Loss is tough, but it happens

From the moment I saw the first one of my seeds pop a sprout out of the top of the soil, I became very excited for the adventure that lay ahead of me. One thing I did not learn from most of the books that I had read though was what percentage of saplings actually make it and how many seeds actually sprout. Out of nearly twenty seeds that I originally planted three years ago, I only have one tree that is still alive. I have also planted several seeds in one pot, only to find a week later that birds had come along and eaten all of the seeds out of the soil. 
So, loss happens, but that does not mean that I will give up. If anything, the losses experienced have motivated me to keep an even closer eye on my trees so that they do not fall to the same fate.

Love grows with time

There is a strange bond that forms between humans and inanimate objects that we have around us for long periods of time. This could look like an heirloom in your family, a tree that was planted by one of your ancestors or maybe even a song that someone in your family many generations ago wrote. Over the past three years I have grown very fond of my trees. I care for them every morning and by doing so, they have flourished! The joy that I receive from knowing that I have not only just kept something alive, but have made it become even better then it was before is an amazing feeling.

The application

Learning 

When Jesus was present on earth, He taught us how to act, react and be proactive. How do we do this? We must be reading our Bible daily if we are to understand how to do these things. Just as I had to learn about how to care for each individual tree under my care, we should also take the time to learn each individual skill that God has given us in the Bible. This will not be an overnight process. I cannot simply skim the pages of a book and tell you every single detail about it. No, we must commit time and effort to the truths held in every page of the Bible in order to act, react and be proactive in an appropriate way.

Loss

When a bonsai tree is in training, it is pruned and wires are placed on it to make the branches go in the right direction. When you prune a tree you are cutting out the dead branches and all of the growth that is unnecessary. Just as with trees, we must do this in our own lives. We must cut out the parts of ourselves that are dead, unwanted and repulsive. When you prune a tree back, it will direct its resources to the living branches and make them grow more vigorously. This makes the tree healthier and the same rings true in our lives. 

Love

God created us in His image. He knit us together in our mothers womb and made us unique. He has spent every moment of our lives loving us and He will never stop loving us! His love is relentless and His words are full of life. Just as I have to care for my trees each and every morning, we should take care of our relationship with God each morning. We should show God how much we love Him and what He has done for us. The longer you spend with God, the more you will grow to love Him and be in tune with what He has in store for you.

Growth

With all of these things, learning, loss and love, we can see that without them it is almost impossible to grow. For if we do not lose our old selves, then we have not given ourselves up to God fully. If we do not learn more about Him on a daily or even hourly basis throughout our days, then we are shorting ourselves from the full potential of what God has in store for us. If we do not show God how much we love Him, then we are neglecting our relationship with Him. So I firmly believe that with these three principles applied to your life, you can not only grow, but you can thrive.

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