“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin
The chrysanthemums that began to sprout last spring were just starting to reveal small buds that held the promise of a bright new bloom and we were dying from the anticipation of it all.
We couldn’t remember – did we plant yellow? Orange? Red? A variety? It was one big surprise and my brood of three young children couldn’t wait to see the explosion of color.
Enjoying an unseasonably warm October afternoon, we played outside and milked the weather for all it was worth, knowing that in February we would long for a day just like today.
Samuel, in all of the determination of a curious four year old boy, walked over to one of the plants and began to examine the tight bud of what looked to be a yellow chrysanthemum.
“Mama, WHY hasn’t this thing bloomed yet?” He pressed, somewhat irritated with the tardiness of it all.
“It’s just not ready, Samuel. God knows when the right time will be and it’s not now but I can tell it will be soon,” I answered.
He began to open the small bud in an attempt to force it out of its shell hoping that it would pop out and leave a colorful bloom in its place.
“Buddy, you can’t force a flower to bloom. You’ll kill the bud and then it will never bloom. It will only bloom in its own time – it’s just not something you can force,” I explained.
Accepting that answer, he moved on to worms and dirt and was content with the fact that we would just have to wait.
Yet there I stood with tears in my eyes, marveling over the intimacy of our Creator and how he communicates with me through my children.
Because He knows we are like those chrysanthemums, He won’t reveal every lesson He desires us to learn at the same time. He understands our limitations because after all, He made us this way – with a bound-by-the-flesh disability that forces us to rely on something greater than ourselves.
He can force us to bloom because, really, He can do anything – but He also knows that if He forces us to bloom too fast, it will kill us. Everything in His own and perfect timing.
When I was teaching elementary students before I became a stay-at-home-mom, there was an adage I tried to follow to guide my instruction: process not product.
And, of course, as the ultimate teacher, God has known this all along – our fruit would not be nearly as beautiful without the journey it took to bloom. Process not product.
Five days later, we pulled into our driveway to see a rich display of yellow and orange. My mom-van was filled with glee.
Opening the doors, the crew bolted out like caged animals to examine our new flowers up-close.
“Mama, they bloomed!!!!” Samuel proclaimed excitedly.
“Yes, they did – in their own time,” I answered.
“They all look different – some are a little more brown, some are bigger, some look like they’re thirsty,” he declared.
And I thought to myself, “process not product.” Each bud took similar, though probably not identical, journeys. But they all bloomed.
So while our journey might be different from another’s, if we land in His arms, we have bloomed. The process may have been arduous and not one we wish to repeat ever again, but in this case, the product is Jesus – which is one time we can say “process AND product.”
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” – John 15:1-4 (NIV)