Luke 5:16 – But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (NIV)
There is something strange about the hibiscus plant as it sits in its pot on our balcony, beautiful and alone. Its green leaves have long since died, except for some tiny green shoots learning how to grow. All summer long, and now into fall, one flower has bloomed each day, to be replaced by a new one the next day. I am familiar with the hibiscus trees as they grow in Bermuda, and the beautiful flowers are striking. But what makes these lovely pink flowers blossom, new each day, morning after morning, one at a time, all alone? The flower drew me to it like a magnet, holding a hard lesson I have learned throughout life: there can be strength available even when standing alone.
Those lonely, potted hibiscus flowers speak to me of the Christian life: we must bloom where we are planted, even on our own, come what may. The Lord gives us work to do, lovely in its display, as we open up to the beauty which is the Lord's: His love, His creation — shining through all we do in His name. Each morning, the lone hibiscus flower says to me that we need not despair when we must blossom alone. It is God's work we are called to do, His love we are called to share, His beauty that we are asked to display. He is there with us. We are never really alone. As today's Scripture reminds us, Jesus also made it a practice to withdraw to a lonely place to pray alone. We need to find those prayer places and discover God's blessing.
As Christians, as followers of Jesus, we often walk alone, even serving Him best through our loneliness, for in our need, we draw on His strength. We can bloom where we are planted because Jesus opens us to face the morning, bringing delight and beauty to others wherever we go. All we need to do is ask the Lord for nurture, for enough "water" to get through the day until our work is done and evening comes. Then the next morning, another blossom will appear, and we can be at rest.
Now I will tell you something even stranger! As I write this, there are seven buds growing on the hibiscus plant for the first time. Lots of flowers are going to open tomorrow. What is God telling me, telling you?
Prayer: Dear Lord, You have put each of us in this spot for a purpose, to bloom for You. How to do that is often a troublesome question, but with You beside us, we are prepared to live in such a way that we reveal Your beauty to others. May we open today with delight, even when alone and fearful. May we serve You diligently throughout this day, that others may see in us Your beauty. Thank You for planting us here. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.