During Thanksgiving, my wife’s parents gave us a Christmas cactus. It’s not more than a foot tall in its small pot, and when it first arrived in our home, it became a dark green, unassuming centerpiece in our dining room.
Every day, I’d sit down for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the table, never noticing the cactus. Who notices a cactus anyway?
A cactus is part of the scenery… like in a western.
One morning I walked down the steps, and something pink on the table caught my eye. In fact, it wasn’t just one pink thing. It was several pink flowers in full bloom on the cactus. In fact, some had already wilted. How could I have missed those flowers when they were blooming right in front of me for the past few days?
I think we all have a moment like that at one time or another. There is something beautiful and perfect right in front of us, but we miss it. After a busy season, we realize we’ve drifted from a spouse, from a friend, from a child, or even from ourselves—forgetting what brings us joy and defines who we are.
When we were newly married, I spoke with an older couple in our church during a retreat who seemed like they had their act together. However, when I asked them how they were, she sighed and very frankly said it had been a tough month. They both had been so busy that they had drifted from one another.
I kept my mouth shut, but I thought to myself, “But you guys are amazing together! How could you ever drift from each other?”
Apparently, we can miss out on the obvious all the time. If someone had asked me how I felt about flowering plants, I would say without hesitation, “I love flowers. We grow tons of them at our home.” Then an episode like my neglected cactus would throw my statements into doubt.
It’s so easy to miss the obvious, to neglect what’s supposed to be important, and to avoid things that are well within our power.
Though God has asked me to stop and pray regularly, you’d think he’d asked me to run a marathon each morning. The path for a disciple is so simple and obvious—stick to Jesus. And yet, I sometimes act like it’s this big mystery I can’t figure out.
We all have an invitation from Jesus to look and listen. He’s looking for people with functioning ears and eyes—which is another way of saying: people who can think a little.
If Lent has been a struggle for you, keep this in mind: God doesn’t necessarily want you to be stuck. Sure, there are some seasons that will be more difficult than others, but we have scriptures, prayers, songs, and Christian meditation practices that have been handed down to us. If one thing doesn’t work for you right now, try another.
God wants you to enter into his rest today, to experience his love, and to know his presence. You may be stuck in a sense, but he wants you to spend that time with him. That may require some time and effort on our parts, but we have been given all that we need in his indwelling Spirit. Our Christian community has provided the tools we can use.
God has given us something beautiful. He doesn’t want it to be hard to find. The hard part is just slowing down long enough to look at it.
Take some a minute to meditate on this verse from 1 Peter 1:3, NIV:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
As you pray today, ask God whether you’ve been neglecting anything in your life.
Taking Root is a series of meditations I’m writing and editing for Central Vineyard Church during the season of Lent. You can download the podcast version of each post by subscribing to my church’s podcast for each day of the series.