I walked through his apartment in a daze, sifting methodically through his keepsakes, his memories, his life, trying to decide what I dared throw away, what I gave away and what I kept.  I was on a time crunch and for the most part I resisted leaning back to read the slew of papers left everywhere with his private thoughts, his struggles, his journey.

But sometimes the words called out to me from the pages and I gave in.  Faces from black and white Polaroids stared at me and I stared back, wondering just who they were.  How had my dad known them?

As I made my way around his bedroom, I looked up and there in a relatively dark corner was a survivor, a cutting from a Pothos.  A rescue with one or two small leaves in a clay pot.

My dad liked to rescue plants.  He was always taking cuttings from plants and giving them a fresh start.  I think in his heart of hearts he wanted to rescue something. He wanted to do something good.  He couldn’t rescue my mother, or my sister or me, or even himself.  So he rescued plants.

I lifted it from its place and laid it aside in the pile of things I would keep.

I brought home my little adopted friend and tried to find just the right spot where it would get enough light to grow.  It’s been all over the house in the years since.  Right now it has a cozy home by a sunny window in my bathroom.

For a long time I put off transplanting it into a bigger pot with new soil, even though it desperately needed both.  Still, it held on.  Every once in a while a leaf would turn yellow and drop off and I’d be afraid I was watching my dad’s plant die.  But another leaf would soon take its place.  It didn’t really grow, though.  It just held steady with those two or three leaves.

After scouring brick-and-mortars and the internet for a pot deserving of a plant my dad had taken the time to nurture during its teenage years, I finally found just the right pot for it and replanted it with some fresh new soil.  And what do you know, it began to grow like crazy.

Still, it only had the one stem.  And it just kept getting longer and longer.  Somewhere along the way I had developed my dad’s love of gardening and I’d learned a thing or two about it.  I knew that if I wanted the plant to be healthy, to develop multiple stems and bush out rather than remain leggy, I’d have to prune it.  I’d have to cut some off the end of the one stem it had so that the energy would be redirected to the roots and it would grow a new stem.

I put it off for a while.  It wasn’t just a stem I’d be cutting.  It was my dad’s rescue. Strangely it seemed part of him.  But I wanted it to grow into a healthy, beautiful, thriving plant, so I went to the drawer for some scissors, stood in front of it, told it I was sorry, and cut a few inches off the end.

And within a few weeks it began to grow another leafy stem.

Recently those two leafy stems with their big, shiny leaves had grown so long they were hanging on the floor.  Still, there were only two stems.  I knew it was time to prune it again.  And I dreaded it.

I went to the drawer for the scissors and stood in front of it with slightly bated breath.  This is silly! I thought.  It’s just a plant.  Again, I told it I was sorry, and I snipped off several inches this time, just adjacent to where a leaf emerged from the stem.

And suddenly something occurred to me.  Does the Lord feel this way when He prunes us?  He knows it’s for our good.  He knows just where to cut and how much to develop healthy, new growth in our lives.  Still, He knows it’s going to hurt us.

I wonder if He stands for a moment with slightly bated breath before He allows us to hear that diagnosis.  Before we hear the news about our loved one.  Before we find out we’ve lost a job or a home, or a child.

Jesus wept.

John 11:35

Of all the times the New Testament tells us of someone crying, this instance of Jesus weeping with those who wept over Lazarus’s death is the only time the word dakruo is used to describe it.  It means to weep silently or to shed tears. All other instances were of people crying out loud.

Jesus knew in just moments He would give Lazarus new life and still, His compassion for Mary and Martha and the rest was overwhelming, because He is not an uncompassionate God.  Our pain is His pain. He wept for their immediate suffering, but also for the sin nature they were caught in which ultimately brought death–the sin nature He came to overcome.

My plant is not the only rescue in this house.  I am God’s rescue.  When He plucked me out of my dark corner of the world, I was barely alive, barely growing.  Since then God’s pruned me back many times.  And I’m not always as compliant as my plant.  I’ll argue He’s taken too much or it’s too soon to take more.  And there are times I’ve wondered if He cares how much the pruning hurts.

And I look at my plant, and I know He does.

Somehow that makes going through the pruning, the struggle of it all, just a little bit easier.  Knowing God isn’t at all cavalier about the pain He must allow in my life, knowing He has a purpose beyond what I can see, knowing He’s right beside me, weeping when I weep, makes it all just a little bit easier.

When I grow up, I want to be like my plant.  I want to allow the cutting without a peep.  I want to bounce back and quickly begin to produce new growth.  I want to be content and even flourish where the Lord sees fit to put me.

Today would have been my dad’s 75th birthday.  If he were here I’d give him a jar full of jelly beans and a trip to the Desert Botanical Gardens.  Maybe a new fishing pole. Nah.  He’d rather keep the one he’d broken in.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  You rescued me more than you know.

Love and Blessings,