When I made the journey to Israel with my family three years ago, I didn’t do my usual pre-trip prep which usually involves going DEEP into research. I would wish to say that actually happened, but I also wanted to be surprised when I got there. I had read/heard stories from the Bible on Israel for the majority of my life, so I thought surely I could rely on that knowledge. Now, when I look back, memories comes back to me of why I didn’t put in my usual effort.
A month before we were meant to leave for Israel my mom started going through a sudden medical scare. When her symptoms didn’t improve, I started reaching out to medical centers, desperately trying to find a doctor to see her on such short notice. The three days before the trip involved me driving a very frightened (not to mention very aggressive) Brazilian woman to get tests done in different locations in Orlando. The last thing she did at the doctor was go in to get a biopsy. She would only get the results back in 20 days. The exact number of days we were going to spend abroad.
Immediately, my mom wanted to cancel the trip and stay home. Choosing to wait out the 20 days for the biopsy results (accompanied by the ever-so-lovely and inseparable twins named Fear and Anxiety) instead of packing her bags and trusting God to take care of her during this turbulent moment in her life. Eventually we were able to convince her to go, but she threw fits throughout the entirety of the trip.
When we finally flew into the Airport of Tel Aviv, my mom would switch between moments of finding conviction in the land where Jesus walked to moments of drowning under a wave of anxiety. I was worried for my mom because I had never seen her so scared before, but at the same time I felt irritated at her fear. My irrational irritation stemmed from an overwhelming sense of peace I felt in my soul. I just knew that what my mom was going through would soon pass but nothing that I said or did soothed her spirit. The only thing that seemed to calm her down was when we would observe the flowers in Israel.
Roses were everywhere during our journey to the holy land and we were amazed at the saturation of the colors and the perfection of their forms but most importantly we were intrigued by their presence.
Israel only has two distinct seasons: summer and winter. Summers are plagued by the blazing sun and dry winds with no rain in sight for months. While winters are cold and harsh and are meant to be rainy (but after talking to locals that’s not always true). It might rain a day or two during the beginning of rainy seasons of the year but usually the sun dominates year-round.
So how were these flowers here in such a dry, rainless land?
“…See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” Mathew 6:28-30
Have you ever felt like God has planted you in a dessert? We look around us and zero in on everybody who appears to be doing better than us–blooming in their seasons—while we are here rooted in a situation we wish we could run away from.
We extend our arms in the air, boldly questioning God as to “Why did He plant me in this barren land? If you’re the God of everything, why don’t you just change my circumstances!?”
But see, flowers don’t look around them and compete with the flowers next to them. They just bloom (totally took that from an Instagram quote) but hey it’s still true!
In the hot dry land of Israel, my mom and I were able to deduce how the flowers we were so fascinated with were able to survive. In the 1950s an Israeli man invented drip irrigation (tiny little holes in metal rod that extend for miles drip small droplets of water). They don’t need a flood or a constant rain, a few drops of water a day is all they need. Why? The truth is in the soil. Israel is composed of 60 percent of dessert region and yet produces some of the most fertile land in all of the world (Fertile Crescent and what not).
We may be inclined to believe as followers of Christ, like the world believes, that we can grow despite our circumstances but as flowers of the kingdom we blossom because of our circumstances.
We may look around at our circumstances and fixate on the idea that we are surrounded by barren land but underneath it all our soil—our foundation—lies the truth that we were created by a loving and perfect creator whom has given us each a specific purpose to live out in this sin-stricken world as we prepare to enter his kingdom for all eternity.
Therefore, let’s not look around us and ask God “why did You plant me here” but rather ask “what purpose would you like to be fulfilled” because You want me here.
“Lean on, trust in, be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding” – Proverbs 3:5