Blooming Where You Are Planted

I was going to name this post – “What it’s like to move/live overseas.” Really, though, the things that the Lord has been teaching me really have nothing to do with living overseas. Overseas means something different to different people – depending on where you live.

Far away from home

The other day I was sitting in the van on the side of the road waiting on Mary to buy some flowers at a road-side stand. I was just looking around and it hit me how far away from “home” I felt. All the people driving by, the people in the apartments around me, and the people walking on the road all communicate in a different first language than I do. They view life differently because their culture and history are nothing like mine. We have much in common as humans – but our life experiences are vastly different. I did not feel fear, but I felt so alone sitting there. I do not allow my mind to go there often, for obvious reasons, but the feeling of living in a foreign country caught up with me if only for a moment.

You might be thinking: “If you don’t like living in a foreign country, why don’t you just come home?”

That is a rational question, but it is important to understand that liking or not liking living in Ukraine is not relevant. We do quite like living here for so many reasons. There is just something lonely about it. And listen – I am not bemoaning the fact or complaining. It is a great honor and privilege to serve the Lord and to serve the people here.

The fact is – my heart is fickle. When things are hard for an extended period, I start thinking that those difficulties would be so much easier somewhere else. Not long ago the Holy Spirit prompted me to read the story of the Exodus again. I love that story and read it often. This time it was like the Spirit had a bright highlighter to help me see an important pattern of discontentment.

Exodus 5:20–21 (NLT)
20 As they left Pharaoh’s court, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who were waiting outside for them. 21 The foremen said to them, “May the LORD judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!”

Exodus 14:11–12 (NLT)
11 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt?
12 Did not we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It is better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

Exodus 15:22–24 (NLT)
22 Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water.
23 When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So, they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”).
24 Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.

Exodus 16:1–4 (NLT)
Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt.
2 There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.
3 “If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.

Exodus 17:1–4 (NLT)
1 At the LORD’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink.
2 So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?”
3 But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”

Think about this. The children of Israel had cried out to God for rescue from Egypt. God sent someone to rescue them and then they turned on him (Moses) because Pharaoh made their work more difficult in response to Moses.

After they were out of Egypt, they complained about the water God gave them when they were thirsty. They were hungry and God supplied food for them (supernaturally, I might add) every day. It was not good enough. They got tired of eating the same thing over and over. They said their life was better in Egypt – where they had been in slavery – where they were oppressed – where they had begged God to deliver them from.

When they were waiting for Moses to return from the mountain where he was meeting with God, they got tired of waiting and assumed that they needed to construct a new god.

I have thought about this a lot in the last few days. In what ways am I not content where God has put me? I saw this flower in our driveway.

It was almost as if I could almost hear the flower saying to me, “Look at me. I am out in the middle of the concrete driveway. I don’t look across the yard at the flowerbeds and dream of being with the other flowers instead of this desolate spot where I am planted.” No, I am not losing my mind. I did not really hear the flower talking.

Here are a few Scriptures the Father has used to remind me to be content where He has planted me. He does not want me to be unhappy, of course. However, I am remembering that His plans and purposes are not focused on ME being happy. And His plans and purposes are not about YOU being happy, either.

Matthew 6:25–26 (NLT)
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds. They do not plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?

Philippians 4:12–13 (NLT)
12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)
10 That is why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I hope wherever you are right now that you will find joy and contentment in the Lord and the knowledge that He is a Sovereign God with everything and everyone within the reach of His mighty right hand.

Psalm 37:3–4 (NLT)
3 Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

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Chris Malone

Chris and his family serve as missionaries near Kyiv, Ukraine. Chris and his wife, Mary, have nine children. Five of their children have Down syndrome and four of those are adopted from Ukraine. Their four older children are in various stages of starting college and starting careers.

6 thoughts on “Blooming Where You Are Planted”

  1. Janet F. Broyles

    Perseverance is the word that came to mind when I looked at the picture of the flower and read your post. I need to persevere where God has planted me.

  2. Great word today my friend. I wonder if you could transplant that flower (the one you were talking to) to the yard (the land of milk and honey). Love you my brother.

  3. Wow, this hits home! Often I find myself feeling fearful… that I’ll lack something, that I’m missing out on something, etc. instead of resting in God’s goodness and provision for THIS DAY. I tend to take a whole bunch of days’ cares at one time instead of trusting that all the way, my Savior leads me. Thank you for this timely word, may we always see ourselves and be aware enough to recognize that like the Israelites, we often seek change until it happens, then grumble against that which we sought. Jesus, help us!

    1. Well said, Allison. Thanks for your words. We (okay I) desire change and sometimes become dissatisfied because it turns out differently than I thought it would. Indeed – Jesus, help us!

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