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The Death of Me

Several months before she died, my Grandmother gave me an adorable succulent plant. Over the past twenty years, that plant has flourished in many different contexts -- high school, college, medical school, residency, and married life.

Succulents are easily divided. Somewhere along the way, I began giving a cutting of this plant to each of my dear friends as a reminder of the nature of love: growing and multiplying. The metaphor of this plant taught me much about how God loves us: sacrificially and continually. Friends with less than green thumbs received more than one of these little plants. And always, always, I found myself with more at home than whatever I had given away.

Until this month.  

Over the winter, I had moved all my plants to the top of my refrigerator - where they would be safe from the curious hands of visiting toddlers. Recently, I noticed the plants were not looking well. Most of them bounced back pretty quickly when I put them back on the kitchen table in direct sunlight. The succulent? Not so much. I tried adding fresh soil to the pot and was hopeful it might revive, until yesterday. Twice, I found my two-year-old son trying to re-pot the struggling little plant. My facial reaction to his first attempt was apparently insufficient to ward off a second one. 

The dismembered succulent lay limply atop a bed of freshly dug soil, and a separate pile of dirt overflowed from a nearby candlestick holder. Josiah had no idea idea why I was upset, but he looked at me with concern. "I'm sorry, Mama!"

I told him it had been my special plant. He repeated, "I'm sorry. Do not touch Mama's special plant." I took him in my arms and said he was much more special to me than any plant. 
And as I looked over at the dying remnant of the previous chapters of my life, the following words came to mind.

"Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)

This verse is one Christ spoke about Himself. But he expanded the argument to his followers:

"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." (John 12:25-26)

In less than six months (God willing), we will be moving abroad. I can't take potted plants (among many other things) to Africa. Maybe this succulent was a small reminder to hold loosely my self-constructed, "special" kingdom. 

Every day, I find myself championing my own rights and privilege. Every day, a Good Book reminds me that rights and privilege are no longer mine as a follower of Christ. But for every thing I lay down, I find myself with more. 

Scripture declares this truth: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

God's supply is endless. With this reality in mind, holding on to finite resources is foolish. What better things could He accomplish in my life if my required lessons did not include prying my hands off everything I have ever "owned"? Isn't it all His, anyway? 

While it is right and normal to grieve relationships and gifts surrendered, it is not helpful to stare forlornly backward. Anything meant to be mine in the future will rest securely in His hands. And He takes better care of everything than I ever could, anyway.


  1. I love how God always informs your spirit, Elizabeth.


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