One of the downsides to extensive travel (such as the nearly 8 weeks away that we've just enjoyed) is when you forget you have left an indoor plant - indoors. We have karted around with us for over twenty years some indoor maiden-hair fern plants. This plant started off as one plant in a pot. It was then divided and put into two planters, where they have been for over a decade now. In that time we have had to replace the stale soil, fertilise them, and especially keep the water up to them. But 8 weeks away makes all of this difficult if you keep them inside - which we did. I began to wonder how our maidens were fairing while I was away and upon our return was delighted to discover that the one immediately near our entrance door was still alive and doing OK (not great, but OK). The other one, over near the window, was dried out, brown, and dead.
"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
Most people would prefer to bask in the glorious sunshine than freeze in gloom of a Winter's day. But basking comes at a price. If you have skin like mine, you need shade. You have to keep your fluids up. And you have to be careful about drowsiness becoming unproductive sleep. My poor maiden-hair fern had been basking without the necessary precautions. What was once lush, moist, and thriving was now dry, withered and dead.
The very thing it both needed and enjoyed (bright, warm, sunshine) had caused its demise. Of course, it wasn't just this, it wasthis combined with a lack of nutrients and especially water. There are times when we too long for the sun. We crave those moments when we can just bask in the sun and relax. But when we fail to add to this bask, appropriate shade and hydration, we risk my maiden-hair's fate. This is also the case spiritually.And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
Every gardener knows what to do in these times. The plant must be immediately pruned hard and saturated. It seems cruel but it's the only thing that can possibly save the plant. All the dead parts of the plant must be cut off immediately. Then water must be applied copiously and often. This is what I did. Within a week, I saw two new growth shoots appear from where there was previously deadness.Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
For the LORD comforts Zion;
he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
It is possible to spiritually experience what my maiden-hair fern has just gone through. The bliss of not being accountable to anyone and basking in the warmth of the sunshine without the pesky responsibilities of having to always take on water. And like my maiden-hair fern, it is probable that such a lifestyle has resulted in spiritual dryness and near-spiritual-death. But also like my ferny friend, it is possible to find a solution that offers life-saving rescue. This requires the Gardener to prune our lives (some of our sun-basking pleasures may have to be cut out or at least back) and He will then want to saturate us in the water of His Word.
It's worth noting that my plant's rescue from its over-basking didn't come about because of prayer. It came about because of decisive action. Imagine the parents of a two-year child praying that their child would learn the alphabet and not seeing much progress. Then alternatively imagine other parents who aren't depending upon their prayers for their two-year old child to learn the alphabet, instead they patiently teach their child the alphabet. Spiritually, there are too many people that would rather talk about prayer being the solution, than actually implementing the solution.
When Moses brought Israel out of Egypt and led them up to the Red Sea, the Lord told him to lead them through that Sea. But Moses stalled and began to pray - and the Lord rebuked him for doing so.
¶ The LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward!"
When things feel dried-out and dying, many people pray intensely and hope that their situation turns around - but it's actually the time to prune any life-stifling factors out of our lives and saturate ourselves in God's Word.
...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Maybe God wants to use you as one of His gardeners? If so, by all means pray for those you see who are dry, but most especially take your spiritual pruners and watering can.