“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3

In the past year or two, I have picked up the practice of keeping indoor plants. It’s been a great learning experience for me but I’ve especially been surprised by what my plant friends have taught me about sanctification. It turns out that people and plants have a fair bit in common!

Of my dozen or so indoor plants, they all live in some kind of soil, receiving water, sunshine, pruning, and fertilizer. But of those same dozen plants, every single one needs water at a slightly different time and in varying quantities; they all vary in how much sunshine they can handle; and, every variety of plant has a different preference for fertilizer frequency and type.

Today as I tended to my indoor garden, the Lord drew my attention to these differences. Yes, they all require the same things to survive but He had created them all to be unique in how they would receive the fulfillment of those needs. They all have different colourings and traits that cause them to stand out from one another. And they all have varying requirements so that they can thrive! If you tried to care for one according to the other’s needs, they might limp along for a bit but eventually they’ll die.

So the question that comes to my mind is, if God made even plants to be so particular – which have no spirit, which are here today and gone tomorrow, which cannot speak or walk or think – why do we try to fit the spiritual care of people into such rigid moulds?

What do we need?

We all need the same basic things to keep us growing spiritually: time in God’s Word and in prayer. That’s it – that’s our sunshine, water, and fertilizer.

However, there is nowhere in Scripture where we see that we all have to be following a uniform schedule of Bible reading, a set methodology of when to pray for whom, a singular way of studying our Bibles, etc. Yet how often in churches and Christian circles do we strip down our individuality in Christ and just jump on whatever band wagon is rolling by? Friends, I fear that this may be a symptom of spiritual laziness or people pleasing on our part. I know it has been on mine.

It’s nice to be doing the same thing as everyone else, it’s simpler to just fit in, but in doing so are we shutting God out? Are we excluding the Holy Spirit’s leading our hearts to where we actually need to be?

As a very “Type A” personality, I love schedules! I am also constantly struggling with looking for the approval of others, for someone to tell me I’m doing it “right”. But as I’ve faced a time of affliction this last year, I have realized a desperation to be in my Bible that I haven’t felt in several years. And I’ve also realized that it doesn’t matter what everyone else is reading or if they think I’m doing it the right way.

God has got something for me and I am far too aware of my neediness not to grab it with both hands.

And you should be, too! We should be so aware of the reality that God’s Word is alive, of the Holy Spirit in us leading us into truth, of our unique needs and spiritual condition that we have no other choice than to follow His leading – especially in our sacred time alone with Him.

When we are just getting started in forging a habit of Bible reading and study, schedules can be helpful. But as we grow and as the shine of newness wears off, it can turn into just one more thing to check off the list. It’s easy to let it become mundane and boring if our ‘Why’ isn’t properly motivated.

Seek to thrive, not just survive.

Maybe you are like my begonia and you like a light watering more frequently. You thrive on smaller portions of Scripture at a time, several throughout the day, keeping your soil damp all the time. This is a great way to keep the Word on your heart all day long and to be able to meditate on a little at a time.

Or you may be more like the aloe vera. You like a solid dousing of water to really soak down deep. You take an hour or two (or more!) once a day and you can absorb everything you need to and keep ruminating on it until your next scheduled time to sit down at Jesus’ feet.

I can’t tell you what approach will work best for you, but I can tell you that if you have been struggling with feeling like you need to go along with whatever everyone else is doing because it’s the “right way”, then a step back for some evaluation may do you well. Doing something just because someone else is doing it is never the right motivation, and the fear of man always leaves us feeling empty and unsatisfied.

The next time you sit down for sacred time with your Saviour, before you do anything else, ask Him what He has for you. Ask Him where you should start – with prayer, with reading, with working on memorization? Then ask Him where He wants you reading and studying and let Him form a plan for you.

The God Who made all the beautiful growing things that bloom on this earth under the perfect conditions that He designed them for, has a perfect plan for you to thrive in your journey of spiritual sanctification.

Psalm 1 tells us that the godly person is like a tree, planted by a river. They receive just the right nourishment to produce exactly the right fruit at exactly the perfect time. They don’t worry about rushing ahead to produce their fruit before the tree next door or across the banks from them. The pineapple plant doesn’t long to produce bananas, and the rose bush isn’t envious of the peace lily’s blooms. Their focus is just on receiving what God designed for them to meet their needs and accomplish the work He has for them.

As we walk this road together and develop in our walk with Jesus, remember that you are so special to Him. He has a perfect plan to sanctify you and to grow you into the fruit-producing Christian He wants you to be. Do not be afraid to follow wherever that path may lead, even if you have to do it a little differently than others. Perhaps in stepping out, God will use you to encourage others to seek Him with abandon, leaving behind the people pleasing and only concerning themselves with growing and producing that just-right fruit at the just-right time.

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