Weekly Sabbath Survey
Failure to Thrive — 1-18-2014
This lesson is quite colorful and metaphoric, but this is the way the Lord gave it to my understanding.
I have loved African Violets for years. I was given plants as gifts and bought them for myself. Some were ‘rescues’ that I got for a discount and nursed back to health. One thing I noticed as time went along puzzled me: some plants, no matter how well cared for, just did not flourish. They dropped leaves and new leaves were small and weak. Flowers were few, if at all. The plants just didn’t thrive. When I repotted in hopes of saving them, I began to realize they all had an inadequate root system.
“Failure To Thrive” is a medical term used to described a condition in infants. These babies are alive, but physically they are not developing properly. They are weak, sickly and don’t grow normally or gain weight as they should. Without a reverse of this, these children die. The cause of death: failure to thrive.
I have had times in life when I felt I was failing to thrive. My faith was weak, I had little or no growth, and very few “flowers.” These times have been troubling for me and I cried out to understand what is going on. What is happening?!!? Is it the Potter’s Wheel or something way more serious?
There are times in our spiritual football game when we go to the sidelines to catch our breath, drink some Gatorade, and then go right back into the game. In these times, the coach (Holy Spirit) is very near, other players (Believers) are around and we are grateful for the rest while still intently focused on the game.
But failure to thrive is not like that. It is a time of being ‘shut down’ for a spell. The field, the teammates, even the coach seem to be missing. I have been sent to the locker room. The cheers from the stands are distant, muted. I am alone. I am a failure. What’s wrong? Am I hurt? Have I been kicked out of the game? Where is the coach?
Medical doctors and gardeners go over a list when this happens. Diet and environment are checked carefully. Is the subject receiving proper nutrients in the right amount? Are the parents of the child nurturing and loving? Is the plant in the right sunlight and soil for proper growth?
When Believers get into a big slump, we go over that same list. Am I reading my Bible (spiritual food) like I should? Am I receiving the parental care I need from the Father? Am I in the Son Light? Are my roots healthy and deep, rooted and grounded in the Lord and watered by the Spirit of Life? Am I in the right place?
(home, church, work, friends)
We may feel alone, but I am certain the Master Gardener, the Great Physician, and the Faithful Coach (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are right there with us, even if we don’t know or feel it. No matter how we got in this predicament (our fault or not), they will never leave us, never forsake us. But unlike a sickly baby or a drooping plant, we must participate in our own recovery. God has equipped us to do so.
We can do all things through Jesus, our strength, including changing and/or rising above our circumstances. Many things accomplished by great people of our Faith were done not because of their situation, but in spite of it. We can’t wait for everything to be just right to move on in God’s Kingdom (get back in the game).
An artist with paints and canvas has no Mona Lisa until he paints it. Our lives are a series of pictures we are painting for all to see. Jesus has given us what we need, but the painting is up to us. If we temporarily lay aside our brushes we must eventually get back into the joy of our art. Our picture isn’t finished until we are.
[Jesus our Lord], according to His divine power has given us everything thing we need to have life and Godliness by knowing Him, who has called us into glory and virtue. 2 Peter 1:3-4