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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

Are you flourishing?

'The Lord is God! He made us.' Psalm 100:3

Do you need motivation today? Take a look at the palm tree. You can cut it, but you can't kill it! The minerals and nutrients most trees need to survive are found on the surface, just below the bark, so, when you cut them, they die. But not the palm tree. Its life comes from within, so it flourishes, even under attack. Listen: 'We have this treasure in jars of clay' (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). How wonderful; even though the earthen vessel without may be cut and wounded, the treasure within is secure, beyond the enemy's reach!

It will bend, but it won't break. Tropical winds can blow most trees away, but not the palm tree. The stronger the wind, the further it bends - sometimes all the way to the ground. Yet when the storm ceases, it straightens up again and is actually stronger in the place where it bent. What a picture! We were made to bend, but not break, because God's 'glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything' (Colossians 1:11 ).

Its depth always exceeds its height! While the roots of the average plant go only a few feet under the ground, the palm tree's roots can go down hundreds of metres in search of water. David said, 'As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you' (Psalm 42:1).

Go deep, work on your own connection to God and you'll never be...uprooted...or barren...or blown away!

'They will flourish in the courts of our God.' Psalm 92:13

Inside you there's a battle between your flourishing self - the person you were created to be - and your languishing self. Your languishing self feels uneasy and discontent. You may be drawn to bad habits or things designed to temporarily anaesthetise pain. Your thoughts automatically drift to fear and anger. Learning doesn't feel worthwhile. You think about yourself most of the time.

Whereas flourishing [thriving, blossoming, and prospering] takes place:

(1) In your spirit. You sense you're beginning to receive ideas and energy from an outside source. And you are. You're being empowered by God's Spirit. We talk about being inspired, which literally means 'God breathed'. God breathes into you; you come alive and feel like you've a purpose for living.

(2) In your mind. Your thoughts are marked by joy and peace. You have a desire to love and to learn. You're literally being transformed by 'the renewing of your mind' (Romans 12:2).

(3) In your time. You wake each day with a sense of excitement, and you realise you're never too young to flourish. Mozart was composing brilliant music when he was five. Paul told Timothy, 'Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young' (1 Timothy 4:12). You also realise you're never too old to flourish. Grandma Moses was 69 when she took up painting, and artist Marc Chagall did some of his best work in his nineties.

It's humbling to acknowledge you can't be anything you want. But once you accept that and seek to maximise what God created you to be, you start flourishing.

'Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.' John 12:25

Here are two more areas in which God created you to flourish:

(1) Your relationships. Relationally, your languishing self is often troubled. You're undisciplined in what you say, sometimes reverting to sarcasm, gossip, and flattery. You isolate. You dominate. You attack. You withdraw. Whereas your flourishing self seeks to bless others; they energise you. You're able to disclose your thoughts and feelings in a way that invites openness in them. You're quick to admit your own mistakes and to freely forgive others.

(2) Your experiences. God grows you because he wants to use you in his plans to redeem his world: that's why you find him changing your experiences. Your flourishing self has a desire to contribute. You live with a sense of calling. Indeed, your inner longing to become all you were meant to be is a tiny echo of God's longing to begin the new creation. The rabbis spoke of this as tikkun olam - to repair the world.

Focused on yourself, your life is as small as a grain of wheat. Given to God, however, it's as if that grain is planted in rich soil, growing into part of a much bigger project. Jesus said: 'I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels - a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity' (John 12:24-25).

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