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Summary: God wants us to flourish. We plead dryness, incompleteness, or sin, but in the tiny infant of Bethlehem strengthening is coming. Hillandale Baptist Church, Adelphi, MD

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I am persuaded that we are intended by our Creator to flourish. He created us to blossom and to grow. God wants our lives to be colorful, joyful, full. I am convinced that God does not intend for us to live like miserable little mice, afraid of our own shadows, scurrying for cover every time things get a little tough. He intends for us to flourish.

If our Creator had not intended us to flourish, would He have said, when we were first made, “That’s good, very good”? If God had not wanted us to be free and full of joy, would Jesus have announced that He had come that we might have life and have it more abundantly? Not just a penny-ante piddling sort of life, but life on a grand scale, life full and fulfilled?

God intends for us to flourish. His word says that He sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might have life. Abundance and joy is what God intends for us.

Then why don’t we have it? Why do so many of us push through our lives as if we were zombies, barely able to make sense of what we are doing? Why do we burn out emotionally, why do our very souls grow weary? Why don’t we have the joy that God intends, and why do we live our lives in such cramped spaces, if God planned for us to flourish?

Just the other day, my wife and I hauled out our garden rakes and went to work on what must have been about a billion wet leaves in our flower beds. We worked hard to get that slimy, chilly stuff carried out to the curb, and were just about to quit, because our energy was flagging, and besides this job is boring! Do you know the feeling – just wanting to give up on something because you don’t really feel you are getting anywhere and it is mind-numbing boring? We were about to give up on this thankless task, but decided to clean one more flower bed. Margaret pushed aside a particularly filthy stack of beech leaves and just gasped! “Look at this!” And when I raised my wondering eyes to behold, what did I see but a tiny red rose, alone of all the flowers of the garden, somehow budding. It was not time for roses; chrysanthemums, maybe, but certainly not roses. And yet there it was, no bigger than a dime, hidden beneath the fallen leaves of autumn, now uncovered and shining with brazen brightness. The last rose of summer? No, a rose blossoming out of due time, flourishing. Small, but bold and flourishing.

I am persuaded that we are intended by our Creator to flourish. He created us to blossom and to grow. Then why don’t we have it? Why do we burn out and live in cramped spaces, if God planned for us to flourish? There is a hint in the rose that bloomed in my garden. There is a lesson in the flower born out of due time, a clue in that tiny red drop of color about God’s plan for us.

The prophet Isaiah, living some 29 centuries ago, was preparing the people of Judah for difficult days that were to come. He could see that the Assyrians were moving against his nation. Isaiah knew that the people’s hearts would wither and that their hopes would dry up. But Isaiah offered a word of hope and promise, and showed the way to a flourishing life. His words ring true for us today.

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. ... Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God ... He will come and save you.’”

Rejoice and blossom, blossom abundantly. Again, I am persuaded that it is the will of our God that we may flourish. He created us to blossom and to grow. Then why don’t we have it? Ah, but it comes in small, hidden ways that only faith can see. God intends that we may flourish, and gives us tiny clues, seen by the eye of faith. My garden, my little rose, my joy.

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Many of us think of our lives as barren. We complain that our lives are dry and deadly dull. We don’t think we have a real purpose for living. Our only plan is to stay alive, pay the bills, and just get by. One of the members of the church I served as pastor, whenever I asked him how things were going, would always say, “Just trying to make it, pastor, just trying to make it.” Every time, the same thing, “Just trying to make it.” I wanted to grab him by the collar and scream in his face, “Man, look at all the Lord has waiting for you!” But his life did not flourish because he had never found a sense of direction. He had never heard what the Bible calls the prize of the high calling of God. He just plodded along, day after day after endless day, each one like the day before. The wilderness was in his heart; the dry land in his mind. But God says that the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad and blossom abundantly. How? God intends that we may flourish, and gives us tiny clues.

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