My spider plant has spent its summer outside on the picnic table beneath the trees. This morning when I sat down and opened my Bible, I noticed a cluster of tiny white flowers beginning to open.
I smiled and suddenly flew back in time to another spider plant someone had given me when I was much younger.
Our house was full of children then and sometimes life was hard. The roof often leaked and so did the children. How does one keep up with washing and then drying sheets draped behind the stove on rainy days? In those days, a dryer was not an option. And the children, the meals; so many needs, so little energy. Self-pity, resentment, worry, I struggled with them all.
But God wasn't silent in those years. I believe that's why He sent the spider plant. I remember the day I got it. I put it on the window sill and stood back, enjoying the way it added a touch of grace to our battered living room.
Then it started to sicken. I tried watering it daily. It didn't help. I fertilized it. The leaves grew even more yellow. Then someone suggested it needed a new pot.
I'll never forget what I saw when I shook the plant loose from the old pot. A rat's nest of tangled roots turned inward and left no room in the pot for anything but--you guessed it--roots. Those roots were literally wrapped around themselves, strangling each other, choking out life.
Kneeling on the living room floor covered with newspapers and holding that sick plant, I suddenly understood the lesson God was teaching me. I saw myself as God saw me. Truth whispered in the depth of my spirit. "Eva, this is what happens to you when you let selfishness consume you. Your thoughts turn inward. Your energy turns to self-pity. Bitterness and resentment begin to grow inside you, sapping you of energy and enthusiasm. You no longer desire fruitfulness, holiness or godliness."
I needed the object lesson of the root bound spider plant so long ago. I still do. Why? Because the roots of selfishness and self-pity--resentments and bitterness--are subtle and destructive. They creep into our lives. Instead of growing in godliness and fruitfulness, its easy to become self bound with nothing to give others. But God shows us a better way. How often over the years has He reminded me, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (1 Peter 1:3).
"Everything, Father?" I ask.
"Yes, my beloved Daughter. I have given you everything you need as you walk through this life. Hold onto my Hand and we will walk together."
I close my Bible, look out at the yard, dappled in its coat of sunshine and shadow. I think of the lesson of the spider plant, and I smile.