Chapter 2: Growth God’s Bonsai I must make mention that one of my greatest delights growing up, and still now

, was the Word of God. Nothing else was “true” in my life, nothing else “stuck” by me, even though I might have thought God forsook me, but He was with me always. I have heard it preached, and have come to the same conclusion: We must be thankful for God’s provision, and also for His withholding. It is with Devine wisdom that He gives that which will build us up, and with the same wisdom, covered in love, that He withholds. He might withhold the ignorant cries of a broken heart, the desires which would cause harm and pain, but sometimes, like a loving parent would, He gives against His heart, and against His all knowing wisdom, for we cry and cry and cry, and we don’t let up, and He withholds and withholds, saying through denial (of a request) “This will not be beneficial to you”, but regardless, we pursue and request, till He sighs, and allow that which He denied. It brings us delight at first, but over a period of time, we will see and half-heartedly come to admit that we’ve made a mistake! It has happened with me, more than once! The child in me just doesn’t let up. Even if I know it won’t be good for me – mostly relationships, I still pursue them. And Who is there to save me? My loving Father. Not with a “I told you so”, but through my suffering, I realize why this wasn’t really destined for me. I have to repent, turn back and seek God again. May I share some thoughts here? It is during and after these times that scripture proofs to be most true: (Rom 8:28 ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Things that come across my path, not intended to build me up, self inflicted or brought on by outside factors, are most certainly never beneficial. But think of it. Did our faith in God’s healing not grow? Did God, working a miracle to save us, not build our faith, or left us with hearts filled with thanksgiving and awe? Or left us with a testimony of Him? Sometimes we don’t know why things happen. I don’t know why I had to grow-up with this hatred of self, but a glimmer of light dawned which I am still straining to see clearly, to see if it is a spark from God of self generated.

Let me explain: Which Bonsais are the most beautiful to behold? Those growing wild or those, being bent into certain shapes, cut and scraped to resemble growing in the wild, most harsh conditions, when a matter of fact, they are most loved and protected. The smaller they are, the more care went into them. Roots growing over rock depict, years of struggling to survive, and if they do, if the roots “take”, when you see the first buds, then you know, this one is special. Perhaps, we are Bonsais to God. His Son Jesus, the big, steady, protective example of health and strength all trees desire to look like. God the Father “plants” us and allow times of “bending” to come. He “plants” us on (we are seated in Christ, not in our circumstances) “rocky ground”. Our faith might take time to grow, slow and unsure, almost faltering, seemingly teetering between faith and unbelief, but we always know our God, and we always Love Him, and there is this unseen string of Live that always pulls us back to Him. But when we start to bud, when our Faith start to grow, on that “shallow, rocky” ground, that is when He receives glory, for He planted us, He sustains us, the bonsai is amazing to look at, but you know, there is a Master at work with this one! Let’s look at Job: Job 1:1-5 this scripture tells of Job’s fortune. He was rich and wealthy, he loved and feared God, but from what we read, Job’s faith was nothing spectacular to behold – as a bonsai. Now, the devil had a plan: Destroy Job, and show his faith as worthless and superficial. God knew (and His word is true; past, present and future): (Rom 8:28 ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. We all know what happened: The accuser came before God, telling Him, how easy Job the bonsai is growing in a lush, green, protected garden. “Obviously the bonsai will grow fervently! But God, if You bend his branches, cutaway some branches, he will wither away and die.” “Ok satan, you go and bend him however you see fit, you cutaway his branches, but you are not allowed to uproot him.” Oh, the devil had a field day, he mangled, cut, basically maimed that little bonsai, but yet, the bonsai’s roots stood strong! Again the accuser came to God:

“So, did you cut him, did you bend his branches? What did you find, did he die?” “No, but it’s no wonder, his roots are firmly planted in rich soil. Obviously he will continue to grow.” “I will allow you to take My bonsai, uproot him, and plant him on shallow, rocky ground.” Can you see the devil grinning, loving every ounce of permission given to him by the true and only God? He didn’t wait one second to uproot that bonsai! “Ooh, whose a special little bonsai? I will show Him, you are nothing! You will fail! You are worthless! You are ugly to look at, malformed, detestable and hated by everyone! All people will laugh at you, you were so precious, but all because of your possessions, but wait, I will show you to be weak and miserable!” And there were Job, sitting on a rubbish dump, dogs licking his sores… but behind the scenes: The sores were cut marks, the rubbish he was scratching himself with and sitting on were the bed of rocks he was planted on. Do u see..behind the scenes..behind your life.. Verbally Job refused to curse God, and as he persevered, his roots started pushing rocks aside, “sniffing” out good soil, one grain at a time. Some friends came and judged him; some came and poured precious water on those exposed roots… but in heaven… The Master “Bonsaier” was smiling, looking eagerly, waiting…for He knew – from the beginning of this exercise, that “…all things work together for good…” God was seeing roots of faith starting to grow; He was seeing blossoms of praise forming. He was seeing denial of rot in His bonsai! The bonsai was still a mess to look at, as it was still getting established in its new environment. But the Gardener knew the potential, He knew the glory THAT bonsai would bring Him, he knew that all who saw and read about THIS bonsai, would know that though the ground is tough, the air is hot, the winds blow, there is a Gardener who sees, knows and approves all. Job, our bonsai, was hanging on by the thinnest of threads! I believe it save to say, that sometimes – as in Job’s case, it wasn’t an active faith, but rather just enough faith to not deny Christ as God. It was from this “inactive” faith, where his roots were exposed, still searching for the meaning of all these “rocks”, the lack of nutrition, that a new seed of faith were planted. As the roots of our bonsai took hold of its new circumstances, a “new” faith started to form. I tiny green bud was visible upon closer inspection. This smallest of green buds, was the sign all bonsai growing enthusiasts strain each day to see, as it speaks of life, relief, joy and hope. The transplant (no pun intended) actually worked!

Job was still fighting battles within himself, he was still struggling with “Why God?” and “Why me?” but refused his roots, his faith, to grow away from God. He clung to God, between and within this rocky ground, there IS soil, there IS Life to be found! The accuser lost; as he did then he would later also. As Job refused to deny God and refusing to give in to negative, worldly advice, his faith started to grow, the bonsai started to grow. It found God. In that rocky bed there was nutrition. The nutrition was more valuable than that from the lush garden, for it was also given, but there was a struggle to reach it. Roots (Trust) grew thick and strong, seeking out every part of God which He allowed to be found, taking it in, making it part of him trusting for nutrition from God. Branches (Faith) – though twisted, were formed and healthy, strong to withstand winds, growing lush with praise. The Gardener didn’t just leave this bonsai. He supplied him with all the nourishment he needed. He made him strong, He made him something to look at and admire, for the bonsai, grew and reflected all back to the Gardener. Praise God for insight! Pray for insight, for we all are God’s bonsais. We all are planted or being planted. We all are being shaped and pruned. Keep the littlest of faith, even if it is to not deny God. Build on that. Grow your roots from there. Faith grown in adversity is Faith for the world to see. It is Faith God will use to display His power and might! He will use tattered and torn branches to bear fruit of praise for Him, to feed many who are hungry, lost and hopeless. Faith grown in adversity is Faith that will not shrink back; ground it has taken it will not give up. God is Faith’s possession. “Hardened”, established Faith is the possessor of God’s favor to heal the sick, release the captured, train the young, encourage those in despair, sing praises with the saints and to walk close to God! Keep heart and keep Faith. You are a bonsai in the making!