I woke up this crisp November morning to a beautiful Hibiscus bloom—in my dining room. There is one tree with a beautiful blossom and buds, and the other tree with lots of falling and yellowing leaves. The blossoming tree has open reaching outward branches and the other tree has central bunches and bunches of limbs. Was it how I pruned them? Maybe. What’s different?
I brought these two potted Hibiscus trees indoors about three weeks ago when the nighttime temperatures were going to start dipping below 50 degrees. I purchased these two trees in the fall of 2015 when I began a backyard garden. I knew NOTHING about gardening when I started this gardening journey. That fall we began an extensive overhaul of our entire backyard (which at that time was only a carpet of St. Augustine grass) and created an over 10,000 sq. ft. garden of beds for vegetables and fruit trees—only planting what is edible. We planted almost 150 different seeds and 30 varieties of trees. Hibiscus was on that list because we love making Hibiscus flavored Kombucha tea with the dried blossoms. We have learned SO MUCH from our garden. What we learned could surprise you. First of all, we learned that WE can grow nothing—I would like to try and explain what I mean through a series of blog posts, “Lessons from My Garden.” Our garden has been the best teacher about life and about our relationship to creation through a Creator. Now I know why Jesus so often used the garden as teaching tools for our relationship to God and how we should live.
Now, back to the lesson I learned from these two Hibiscus trees in my dining room. I’ve had these trees for three years now, but I first got a grasp of this lesson when I took notice of the two trees indoors in January. These trees usually are living on my back covered patio from spring through fall (see pic from patio), and are in shade by noon each day. They bloom easily through spring, but around mid-summer, they stop blooming altogether and generally stagnate in growth. Although indoors now and it is the dead of winter, I noticed that ONE of the trees was bursting forth with a brilliant red blossom and covered in buds about to open. The OTHER tree was getting taller and full of much larger leaves, but NO blossoms or buds to speak of. I was immediately reminded of the stories in the Bible about plant growth and what they disclose about the plant.
The Hibiscus tree that was daily bearing these beautiful red blossoms was generally smaller and had small leaves; therefore, it was focusing mainly on the blossoms—and not becoming a larger plant. The Hibiscus tree that had no blossoms was much larger, had more leaves, and the leaves were much larger—but he was not as beautiful to look upon.
The Bible says to “Bear Good Fruit,” and I have studied the fruits of the Spirit to determine the good fruit that I’m supposed to be bearing. These ‘good fruits’ are known as fruits of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Fruits that we witness in the garden are usually the edible parts of the plant—those products that can be shared from the plant—those pieces that can be taken from the plant to bring sustenance to the recipient. Lots of times in my life, I’ve been self-centered and self-focused by mainly listening to worldly advice, albeit good-sounding advice, i.e. eat healthy, exercise, sleep well, take time for yourself, etc. But I liken those activities to only being inwardly focused so that I could get more beautiful and showy, but I was not bearing anything that I could share with those around me. I became prideful. If I were a plant in those times: I was tall and green and had lots of leaves, and was even admired by those around me, but I had no ‘good fruit’ to share; therefore, I was only pleasing myself through my actions.
An even deeper lesson taught by these two trees is attributed to how they were nourished. They have the SAME circumstances. The same ABILITY to produce. They’ve both been given the same fertilizer, the same climate, the same environment, the same love and nurture —yet one is CHOOSING to bear blossoms and the other is CHOOSING to be inwardly focused. Yes, I believe it is a choice—just as we Christians have a choice to bear good fruit. I pray that I daily choose to see that in God’s family I’ve been given everything that I need to bear good fruit, but it’s my choice of whether or not to recognize that I’ve been blessed and lack nothing to produce good fruit.
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”