This time of year our senses are overloaded with the sweet smells of cinnamon and pine, the contrasting sights of red/green and silver/gold, the joyful sounds of carols and children, and the tempting tastes of peppermint and chocolate. For me, smells, sights, sounds, and tastes tend to elicit memories, many of them from three to five decades ago. And, those memories trigger reflections on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.
Two particular objects were the catalysts of such reflections during the last part of this year. First, the arrival of bright, orange-red spider lilies springing up in the flowerbed after most of the other flowers had long since faded. Each year, these interesting flowers appear after I have already forgotten about any blooming plant and my thoughts have started turning toward fall.
My dad gifted me the spider lilies when he was thinning one of his flowerbeds several years ago. I attach a special sentiment to these perennials because they remind me of my close relationship with my dad, who passed away a few years ago. The annual emergence of these spindly orange-red flowers also reminds me that my dad is experiencing eternal life with Jesus at this very moment.
My mother now lives alone since my dad no longer walks this earth. And, for the past few months, my two brothers and our families have been traveling back and forth from our homes to the city where my mother lives in order to allow her to stay in her house even though she requires constant companionship and care. In my mother’s backyard is a small fig tree that my dad nurtured when he was alive.
This year my brothers and I pampered the tree through late fall, hoping to harvest a few figs. Well, we ended up with only three figs, and they just happened to be ready to eat during my turn to stay with our mother. As I enjoyed the sweet fruit, I remembered eating figs as a child and savoring extra-sweet homemade fig preserves on hot biscuits.
Both the figs and the spider lilies remind me that as a kidmin leader I have a past in which God has worked to draw me to Himself and to prepare me for His assignments. Just as perennial flowers and fruit appear around the same time each year, God has planted me where I am today for a specific purpose. Finally, as winter approaches, the lily plant and fig tree go dormant for a season only to reappear in the future with cheerful blooms and hearty fruit. God has a plan for me to produce future fruit, as well.
What about you? How has God drawn you to Himself in 2021? How is God using you today for His purpose? And, finally, for what assignments in 2022 do you sense God is preparing you? While we don’t know specifically what God has planned for us in 2022, we do know that He calls us to be faithful, bloom where He plants us, and produce spiritual fruit.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ongoing Bible Studies and Network Partnerships, Nashville, TN, and is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of It’s Worth It: Uncovering How One Week Can Transform Your Church, co-author of Every Age, Every Stage: Teaching God’s Truth at Church and Home, and a general editor of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, Landry is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. He teaches kids at his church in Middle Tennessee, where his wife Janetta is the Preschool Minister. They enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and their wives, and spoiling their five grandchildren