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Category: Faith, Religion & Spirituality / Topics: Choices and Decision Making Christian Life Faith God Hopes & Dreams Optimal Aging Planning Prayer Relationships Religion

Bloom Where You're Planted

by Stu Johnson

Posted: February 6, 2018

Letting God work in us through the circumstances of life…

No. 10 in the Thursday Morning Guy’s group series (see list)


NOTE: The photo on the right shows Chapel Rock in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, on Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The pine tree on Chapel Rock depends on the roots going to the cliff on the shore—talk about blooming where you're planted!. The youth group from the church where Thursday Morning Guys meets was recently at Pictured Rocks for a winter retreat.

Once again, I report from the Thursday Morning Guys group I’ve been attending at a local church. Each week one of the guys suggests a topic for discussion. The blogs that result are not minutes from the session, but an attempt to glean useful themes, to which I may add my own insights. The topic at the February 1 session focused on ways we have seen God work in our lives through various circumstances. .

THE DISCUSSION STARTER

Topic suggested by one of the guys, shared in an email the night before

“Bloom where you’re planted” – four question areas to get our discussion started:

  • Have you ever found yourself in a situation that did not feel good, yet God was able to let you “bloom where you were planted?
  • Have you ever stumbled into something that allowed you to bloom in totally unexpected ways?
  • Have you come to forks in the road on your life journey?  How did you decide and/or sense the Lord’s leading on which path to follow? Did you wonder what would have happened had you taken the other path, perhaps even regretting the decision?  In the end, did God bless the decision you made and allow you to bloom?
  • Have you been able to mentor someone to help them bloom (or seen someone else do so)?

THE CONVERSATION

This topic produced stories of personal experience, from which two basic principles emerged. First, some of the stories:

Work

  • In an early job, reported one of the guys, a boss became very influential as a mentor, helping him to mature and setting him on a path toward future success as a manager.
  • Another talked about hearing years ago about a potential position at Fermi Lab. Not particularly interested, he prayed about it, still had doubts, but determined as someone suggested to “take it.” As it turned out, not only did Fermi turn out to be a great opportunity, but two weeks after his decision, the place he was working at closed and his old job was gone!
  • A friend of another was facing an attractive new job possibility, but he advised him to stay because of a concern that if he left there would be no Christian witness in that workplace.
  • One of the guys talked about being in a new situation where employees starting to come up to him to talk about workplace concerns. He faced two options: don’t get involved because it will only feed the rumor mill or listen and provide what help he could.  He took the latter approach, feeling God had put him in the situation and was sending people to him.

Church

  • One recalled a sermon that pointed out how Paul was diverted from a place he wanted to reach, but took advantage of the opportunity to help the people where he was, carrying on the ministry where he found himself.  

Neighbors, Friends and Family

  • Before coming to the United States, one of the guys became a believer in Jesus in a Muslim area, where his own family members were Muslim. Not knowing what might happen as they learned of his new-found faith, he made a list of relatives to pray for. This led to opportunities to talk, including an aunt who was near the bottom of his list because he thought she would be the toughest to approach. But, she came to him with questions—that represented a clear answer to his prayers. A cousin died within two years of accepting Christ. Fears that he would be blamed for the death because of his influence as a Christ-follower did not come about.
  • Another talked about finding himself with interesting neighbors: a lesbian couple on one side (from Catholic and Jewish backgrounds) and a Muslim family on the other side, with several opportunities to have conversations about faith.

Life direction

  • One of the guys, who had employed a number of young people over the years, spoke of his experience. In one case, he had a young man who was doing a good job, but it was clear he was not happy.  That young man was advised to seek another area and went on to be very satisfied teaching music.  His overall advice: if you’re not happy in a situation after two or three months, you are at a fork in the road, and should consider something else.
  • Another, who was a senior administrator at a college, got involved in counseling a couple who were planning to be married, though he urged them to reconsider. They decided not to marry. Later, each married someone else and “bloomed” in that setting. After many years, the man had become president of a college and asked representatives of the three colleges from which he earned degrees to take part in his inauguration. Since the president could not attend, it fell to our guy to represent his college. Where there could have been animosity because of that long-ago advice, which would have been painful at the time, he was met instead by grace and thankfulness.
  • I related my own story of the situation in my senior year in college, when I faced a choice of graduate schools. Marriage was already in the plans for late summer and my wife-to-be was confident of being able to work as a nurse wherever we ended up.  I had been accepted into two programs that fit my desire to get into broadcasting: Boston College had a work-study program with WGBH in Boston, while the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) offered an assistantship.  Had I been able to foresee how WGBH would become the flagship of what we know today as public television, that would have been the more attractive option. But not having to pay tuition at the U of I while being a TA in television production won that decision.  I often think how things might have turned out had I gone to Boston, yet we count the many blessings and opportunities that came our way by heading first to Urbana.

What personal experiences or observations can you add?

PRINCIPLE PROPOSED

Our conversation and other stories lseemed to boil down to one key principles:

Be in God’s will rather than searching for it—we can expend a lot of time and emotional capital searching for God’s will when, in fact, if we are reading God’s Word, praying, and finding fellowship with other Christ-followers, we can already be in God’s will and he will direct our path. What happens is not mere coincidence, but confirmation. “God’s will is not about our plans, but what we do as we strive to live for God.”  That is the key to blooming where you're planted. It is not a question of why we are in a sitaution, but what we can do to pursue and serve God wherever we are. 

While we may seek (through prayer and advice from others) a simple, single, clear choice to make a decision effortless, that is not how things happen so often.  Sometimes, the choices seem equally attractive, while others may seem to be a choice between two or more less-than-ideal options. Based on his own experiences, one of the guys suggested, “Make a choice, God will pick up the pieces.” While he attributed this to Dallas Willard, I could not locate that quote, but several other Willard quotes may be helpful:

God may not guide us in an obvious way because he wants us to make decisions based on faith and character.

God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are, and if we faithlessly discard situation after situation, moment after moment, as not being "right," we will simply have no place to receive his kingdom into our life.

The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it's who you become. That's what you will take into eternity.

From A-Z Quotes – 25 Dallas Willard Quotes

What principles can you add from what you have learned, observed, and applied to your life?

GUIDANCE FROM SCRIPTURE (God’s written Word, the Holy Bible)

God’s Plans and Blessing

  • You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. (2 Samuel 22:37)
  • For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1:6)
  • The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8)
  • O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. (Psalm 40:5)
  • The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. (Psalm 138:8)
  • "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Blessing Our Plans, Making Decisions

  • May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)
  • Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. (Psalm 25:4)
  • Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. (Proverbs 2:11)
  • Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3)
  • A wise person chooses the right road; a fool takes the wrong one. (Ecclesiastes 10:2)

The Wisdom and Certainty of God’s Plans

  • But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. (Psalm 33:11)

Getting and Giving Advice

  • The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. (Proverbs 12:26)
  • Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. (Proverbs 15:22)
  • We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. (Proverbs 16:1)
  • Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. (Proverbs 19:20)
  • Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (Proverbs 22:6)
  • Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. (Proverbs 25:11)

Staying in God’s Will

  • For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. (Job 23:11)
  • My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. (Psalm 17:5)
  • Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. (Psalm 25:12)
  • Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. (Psalm 119:35)
  • I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word. (Psalm 119:101)
  • Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)
  • Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:24)
  • He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. (Proverbs 2:8)
  • Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)
  • Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. (Proverbs 4:26)

About the Scripture references: unless indicated otherwise, these are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT).  Links connect to BibleGateway.com, where you can see other translations, view the broader context, listen to an audio version and find other Bible resources.  Also check the resources available in the Enrich/Faith section of this site.


Stu Johnson is principal of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois. He is publisher and editor of SeniorLifestyle, writes the InfoMatters blog on his own website and contributes articles for SeniorLifestyle.

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Posted: February 6, 2018   Accessed 170 times

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