"An Inside Perspective"

January 2016

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

For the last three years or so, June-bug and I have been toying around in the garden with chrysanthemums, henceforth to be known as “mums”. We have an assortment of colors, which adds a beautiful accent to many areas of the grounds that we oversee. By reading up on this flower, coupled with trial and error, we have learned how to stagger them to bloom at various times of the year. We discovered only one problem: our plants were only blooming on one side!

Despite our many other successes, this annoying problem had puzzled me all these years. Finally, this past fall, and by the grace of God, the puzzle was solved! As usual, the Lord did not allow me to “untie the knot” until I had learned the spiritual lesson behind the dilemma; that I may then apply it to our lives.

Initially, we started out with only a few donated mums. Over the course of time, with mostly cuttings, our supply multiplied into hundreds of plants, which we spread throughout the grounds. But no matter what I did, I noticed that every year we had a large percentage that would only flower on one side. It quickly became very annoying, if not a biblical thorn in my side. This annoyance grew into consternation, which blossomed into frustration, that bordered on sin. In simpler terms, it drove me nuts!

Every year the plants grew to a lush fullness that even the heavens could envy. But then, at flowering time, as if an unseen plumb line were drawn right down the middle of the plants, they would only flower on one side! Actually…it was very curious. For three years, I tried everything I could possibly think of to solve this blooming mystery. I read, and read some more, in hopes of discovering the solution; but it eluded me. It was as if a flaming sword guarded this truth, and try as I might, I could not figure it out. Yet, I pressed on…

Before I discovered the answer, I did a number of things. I dug the mums up and moved them, from sun to shade and from shade to sun; even partials of both sun and shade. I tried watering more and watering less. I fed them nutrients of every sort, to the point that, had they been baseball players, they would have hit 600 home runs! I did everything that you could possibly imagine, short of digging them up in disgust and feeding them to the geese, which I confess was my temptation!

I had just about thrown in my trowel, when, one night, I was standing in the window of my cell overlooking my kingdom, and I had a “horticultural epiphany”. I observed that I was able to see all things well, and yet, it was dark of night. It came to me in a flash—there were lights all over the grounds on fifty-foot high stanchions that were on automatic timers. I had become so used to the light at night, that I didn’t notice it any more.

You see, the side of the mum that was facing the light did not bloom at all, while the side that was away from the light bloomed magnificently! My mums needed “full darkness” to flower properly and they had none! Oh, precious truth divine!

It is written, “What I tell you in the darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye hear in the ear preach ye upon the housetops.” (Matt. 10:27)

Light has His purpose. However, light cannot be fully comprehended, nor appreciated, but in contrast to the darkness. Thus God, in His sovereign permissive will, allowed sin to enter the world. He was not caught by surprise, but permitted darkness, even ordained it, to produce His very own precious “spiritual flowers”. People are His flowers. Look closely: you have some in your life. They are broken people with the sweet, sweet fragrance of Christ—not of this world. It is an aroma produced only by pruning in the darkness of our Lord’s private garden.

It is written, “I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create calamity; I the Lord do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)

Even as a diamond dealer displays his wares upon a velvety black surface, so also will the Lord one day display His glorious diamonds. His blood-bought saints will be set against the dark background of this sin-sick world. It was the blessing of darkness that caused my mums to bloom. So also, it is the blessing of darkness that causes you and me to bloom. Had my mums been in total darkness for their allotted time, they would have fully bloomed in abundance. You have an allotted time of darkness too beloved; we all do. There is joy in the darkness, but you must find it. I know this, because I live it daily.

It is the Lord that ordains darkness in our lives. Embrace it for His purposes and you will flower. Try to avoid it at any cost, and there will be no flowers. I have lived in a very, very, dark place for a very long time now. Yet, the Lord, by His grace, has allowed not only me, but Sister Debbie and this ministry to bud and flourish in this darkness. To those with eyes to see, this ministry is a veritable flower shop and you are a part of it! Darkness is not pleasurable for the moment, but the Lord has a desired end in mind and it is wonderful.

As I unwittingly did with my mums, we try everything imaginable to avoid the pain of darkness, but only to the demise of the flowers the Lord desires to produce. Beloved, the flowers of darkness are formed in us for others; that they, in their pain, by faith, may anticipate their bloom to come. You too can flower in your sufferings, and by faith enjoy…