Monday, May 08, 2006

garden: a thing of beauty and a joy forever

Encouragement for all of my fellow tenders of orchids:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

A FEW YEARS AGO, I ATTENDED A CONFERENCE in which the speaker painted a beautiful picture with her words. She told of planting a wild strawberry plant in her garden one year and of the wonderful strawberries she was able to harvest and enjoy with very little effort. Not knowing much about strawberries, she was surprised to see that her plant not only survived the winter but thrived and began to spread. In the years that followed it grew with very little care and continued to spread until finally it had overtaken her whole garden.

She then told of her orchid plant. This fragile and delicate life needed much more care than the strawberry plant. It required the right amount of light and water; the perfect temperature and humidity levels. The food had to be just so. The stock needed to be propped up as it grew. The orchid plant needed to be constantly checked to be sure that its growing conditions did not need to be adjusted this way or that. Unlike the strawberry plant that flourished on its own, the orchid needed constant attention to encourage growth. In the end, however, her orchid bloomed, rewarding her commitment with a rich, colorful bud unlike any other she had seen—one that she was indeed very proud of.

The strawberry plant is like the typical child—growing, thriving, and blooming on her own. The orchid is the child who, like our son, has autism. Nothing is simple, nothing is taken for granted. Without the right conditions of diet, intensive therapy, constant care and nurturing, these children would not thrive. They would not learn. They would remain locked in a dark, lonely, and confusing world known as autism. They would, indeed, wither and eventually die without having bloomed.

But my husband and I, like so many other parents we have come to know, are becoming experts in raising the orchid God has given us, and we are being rewarded for our efforts. Every new skill is truly precious. He says a few words, he gives a hug, he looks in our eyes, he knows his name. These are indeed small and expected accomplishments for most children. But to a child with autism, these are major milestones. They represent the promise of an orchid bud that is emerging from the dark and is beginning to bloom.

The commitment of time and resources can be overwhelming. The change in lifestyle is radical. But a child who once had no hope that now shows the promise of a fulfilling future is truly priceless. Children with autism do have a hope and a future. They have God-given potential and destinies to fulfill. Though we as their parents may have to work harder to help them each and every step of the way, in the end we will truly have children of which we can be profoundly proud.

Nevertheless, waiting on God’s timing is not always an easy thing to do. Especially in our society inundated with cell phones, microwaves, email, instant this, and instant that. We are conditioned to seeing things happen now. It is so easy to look at the immediate circumstances of our situation and say that we cannot see God at work because the circumstances seem so insurmountable and overwhelming, and often times, nothing seems to be happening. But to those who are in covenant with God through Jesus, and who are living with Him as their Lord, they can be assured that God is very much at work in their circumstances to fulfill His promise of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God is busily preparing for the orchid of our lives to bloom, and it will do so in His time.

There are certain things as we go through the waiting process that we need to be aware of. Patience itself can produce certain other worthwhile benefits in our lives. Here are some biblical byproducts of waiting on God:

“A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11). People of wisdom are people of patience. Another Proverb says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” (Proverbs 14:29). The more patience we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, the more wisdom we will have for living our lives.

2. PATIENCE HELPS US PERSUADE THOSE IN AUTHORITY.“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded” (Proverbs 25:15). It isn’t the fast-talking, high-gloss presentations that will ultimately persuade the ones who are in authority over us. Those who display patience that not only know how to wait for the right timing, but they also leaves a lasting impression of good character and dependability—a very persuasive combination.

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12). Just as it is with any inheritance, there is a time to possess it. If we were to try to possess an inheritance that has been promised to us in a family situation before the right time, we stand the risk of becoming disinherited. God has given us promises for our future, but if we do not wait on His timing, we could lose the fruit of those promises. Another passage in Hebrews puts it like this, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Heb 10:36).

“Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). This is a lesson that we, as parents of special needs children, know better than anyone. Most of us seem to have a supernatural level of patience with our children. With all that is demanded of us, however, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we need great patience in the other important relationships of our lives as well, including our spouse, extended family, and good friends. It’s important to remember that these are the ones with whom God has connected us, and the ones who will be committed to helping us through in the long run.

“being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). No marathon runner began by running marathons. It took the patience of training to gain the necessary endurance to run the race. It is no different with us. As we allow God to take us through the training of life, the patience we develop will give us not only the endurance to run the race to the end, but finish it well. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NKJ)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). It seems to be a spiritual law that the fruit of the Spirit are interconnected. Therefore, the more we have of one, the more we will have of the rest. What that means is that as we have more love, we will have more faithfulness; as we have more joy, we will have more peace, etc. Therefore, as we allow the Holy Spirit to work patience within us, we will see the water level of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all rise to an equivalent degree within us.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Patience is truly a virtue, and those who have it tend to have great character as well. But here we see that those with patience also possess hope. Why? Because those who wait patiently on the Lord have seen Him move, and know that He will move again. Their hope is in the Lord because, through patience, they have seen the depths of His grace, mercy, and power to overcome any of life’s obstacles. And, they know that He will do it again!

May God grant you the patience in every circumstance of your life to see the orchid bloom!

I cannot emphasize enough how blessed I have been by our circumstances. The trials of learning to live with autism have shaped me into a much better person. This has come only by the grace of the Lord, not my own doing. All glory to HIM.
Sometimes I feel guilty that my reluctant maturity has come at the expense of my girls. Bless them. They will never know how much I love them and how they have humbled my prideful heart and mind. Through their difficulties, my hard heart was broken and by the Holy Spirit, it has been abundantly refilled, overflowing and so much better than anything I could have come up with on my own. In a way, they saved my life. They are the instruments in HIS hands anyway.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
I cried out to the LORD in my suffering, and he heard me.
He set me free from all my fears.
Psalm 34:5-6


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Through their difficulties my heart was broken and by the Holy Spirit it has been abundently refilled." I wonder if you'd feel that way if your children did not "recover." What if they were self-abusive, non-verbal, unable to play, despite good ABA therapy? This is what happens to many children on the spectrum even though they have had years of very good quality ABA. Someone like you and the woman from "Hidden Recovery" can, of course, breathe a sigh of relief because your children are now "typical." Many good parents of children on the spectrum have "patience." Trust me, it takes a lot more than that when their children are not "recovering" within a year or two. I wonder if you would be so quick to write a post like this if you had to live everyday with some of what I have to witness some parents live with.

And by the way, if the person from Hidden Recovery is going to convince us all she is so knowledgable, you may want to advise her to learn how to spell the word "discrete" (as in discrete trial.) It's not spelled "discreet" as she writes under her "therapy bashing" section. But I'm sure she'll write a book claiming her knowledge.

4:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:14:00 PM  

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