by Melissa Taft

by Sue Duby

While most of my days “unfold” without a fully scripted agenda, Friday mornings are different. My phone calendar chimes with a non-negotiable, every-week coffee date with “history friend” Joanne.  A “must-do.” A place to swap family updates. Moments to confess places where our hearts, relationships, and personal journeys need “tweaking.” 3 hours of chatter, while sipping lattes. Laughing . . . a lot. Exercising my verbal processing, until I have few words left (I later tell Chuck with a smile, “I saved you from lots of listening!!”).

Last week, Joanne tossed out our “ponder question” for the week. “I’m reading a book that talks about flourishing. What does that mean anyway?”

Immediately, I pictured my garden. Thanks to hours of digging, dumping yards of compost and mulch, repairing irrigation lines, and ripping out tired plants, our buddy Mitch paved the way for us to create. Now, anything we plant grows without effort, blooms like crazy, and makes me smile. Flourishing.

Grandsons on the baseball field. Stealing bases like jackrabbits. Slugging a few home runs. Cheering on teammates. All “spill over” from the foundation of a secure and safe home, Dad’s encouraging words, and coaches focused on character over success. Flourishing.

Morgan with her creative design business. Birthed from crazy, bold steps. Leaving a secure job to travel the globe for a year of missions training. Returning with a vision to champion “redemptive brands” that give back. Matching her designs and client needs with passion, heart, and soul. Following whispers from Him along the way, in growing trust. Flourishing.

Then. . .Joanne’s challenge. “So . . . when have you felt that you flourished?” I wrestled against my first thought for a moment, then blurted out – ”My season as Operations Director on a medical ship in Caribbean!!!” One of the all-time most challenging, crazy, “pull out my hair” eighteen months of my entire life. Hurricane evacuations (two), engine failures (close to rocks, stuck on an island), crew shortages, drydock escapades, and perpetual out-of-control days. And yet, in the midst of it all, a sense of “firing on all cylinders”, creating, organizing, thriving with the unknowns, and clinging to Him for wisdom every single moment. Acutely aware of His presence, grace and protection at all times. Flourishing.

Flourishing happens when “a particularly favorable environment” produces healthy and vigorous growth or development. It makes sense when I dig in my rich garden soil or watch grandsons nurtured by loving parents. But, when life is hard, when my footing feels wobbly, when challenges feel overwhelming . . . how am I to still flourish?

Perhaps, it’s not what we do to create space for flourishing or what we can see that makes us feel secure and ready to charge ahead. Flourishing moments are not defined by “I did this, I succeeded here, I won this award, people noticed me here.” Instead, it’s all about WHO is with me, always paving the way with love, coupled with my choice to listen, follow and trust Him. Where I choose to firmly hold on to Him as my solid anchor. Then, the moments are ripe for flourishing!

Psalm 1 (TPT)    

What delight comes to the one who follows God’s ways!
    He won’t walk in step with the wicked,
    nor share the sinner’s way,
    nor be found sitting in the scorner’s seat.
His passion is to remain true to the Word of “I AM,”
    meditating day and night on the true revelation of light.
He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree
    planted by God’s design,
    deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss,
    bearing fruit in every season of life.
    He is never dry, never fainting,
    ever blessed, ever prosperous. 

Back to that attentive listening ear and a heart that continually asks, “Lord, show me, today. . .Your way!” Pondering and choosing to follow. Then, He “plants” us, enabling us to stand firm (my own efforts to “stand firm” never seem to last!). From that planting, we “yield . . . fruit in its season” (NIV). We flourish.

Matthew Henry paints a delightful picture of those who “follow” Him:
“. . . they bring forth their fruit (that which is required of them), in due season, when it is most beautiful and most useful, improving every opportunity of doing good and doing it in its proper time.”  Matthew Henry

Waiting and patience – a part of the journey. His timing of that season (Father really does know best!) coupled with His knowledge of our “frame” (He crafted us each uniquely) leads to our flourishing at just the right moments.

Psalm 92:12-14   NIV

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

May we continue to listen, trust and follow Him, as we delight in fresh, flourishing moments.

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