Archives, Biography, Wheaton

A Bonsai of Righteousness

When I was teaching in Thailand, we called them “Teak of Righteousness”–Oaks are not native to Thai soil. But this morning I found myself praying with a wry smile and said to the Lord, “If you are making me a Bonsai of righteousness, I will not fight you.”

My life has been pruned back so many times that I have literally lost count of the events—nor  even given it much thought anymore. But this morning I found myself marveling at the apparent skill, time and patience my heavenly gardener is taking with me. And, in looking up the mystery of the Bonsai, I found this description: “They are kept small by pruning the roots and branches and repotting the trees.” Perhaps I’m being formed into a Bonsai.

Here are the questions I find myself asking these days. Can I be content when most of my days are spent in my house? When the fruit on the tree is cut way back yet again? When I cannot see the roots yet wonder if the Lord isn’t reaching in and rearranging some of the deeper things in my soul as well?  Can I be content to be small and intentional, a miniature work of art that does not attract attention in the streets?  Will I receive the life I have been given–not as judgment or punishment–but as gift?

I wonder if knowing ourselves as small enables us to see the small things better?  And if, in fact, the very limitations imposed on life are not themselves the ground for discovering new channels of beauty, truth and hope.

No plant naturally becomes a Bonsai. But then, no tree reaches the majesty of an Oak or the durability of a Teak, either. All are “the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3) May we be granted the grace to wait for skilled hands of our gardener, particularly when the view from below does not look very promising.

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