It's not the showy florets of the hydrangea that carry on the life of the plant, but when someone says, "hydrangea blossom" that's what almost always comes to mind..
And why not? Mounds of watercolor shades ripple with undulating hues. Complex tints tinge shadow with rainbow light.
I'm looking out the window as I write, enjoying hillocks of blue beneath the trees in front of our house. I love what I can see.
But what I can see is only a small part of the story. It's really the tiny hydrangea flowers that are fertile, capable of taking the work of the hydrangea to the next generation. These little stars are beautiful in their own right, but they're small enough and inconspicuous enough that they're often overlooked. They're dwarfed by the richly-colored florets, their sterile counterparts.
Which part of the flower is more important? That's hard to say, because each fills a special role in the life of the hydrangea. Frankly, I probably wouldn't grow many hydrangea plants if they bore only tiny, almost insignificant star-flowers. But then, the hydrangea family wouldn't have grown to what it is today—and might have died out entirely—if there were only colorful, sterile florets.
What's most important to God? That's a little like asking whether he likes brown hair better than blond or gray. He made them each for a purpose—and their individual beauties shine brightest when their purposes are most fully realized.
Perhaps it's best to simply ask, "Am I fully living the purpose of God for me?"
I'm thinking a lot about purpose these days as Melis and I wrestle with the question, "Where to now, Lord?" Last week, she challenged me to write up my purpose statement: "What is it that God is calling me to?" I tapped out a few starter thoughts, realizations that have been dawning like a very slow sunrise for many years.
It's strange, when you've travelled down the path of life long enough to know that the things we usually call "callings" are generally just manifestations of the real calling, that we can't just say, "I want to be a firefighter when I grow up" and be satisfied. We have to address the God-built passion that drives us to pursue a particular path because the path itself is not the end: It is the means to the end, one way to achieve the purpose. So if we fail out of firefighter training or get injured and can no longer join the crew when the fire bell rings, it is not a negation of the calling. The calling, like a river, must find a way. Log jams and mud slides will divert the course, but the river rolls on.
It's equally strange—and doubly disconcerting—to realize that the fulfillment of the calling does not necessarily spell recognition or approbation, at least not from anyone but God. It's a well-worn truth, but one that I somehow need to hear again and again; It's the story of the hydrangea blossom. What if no one does care about the work we're doing, the purpose we're fulfilling, the part God has given us to play in His kingdom? No matter: We're called to fulfill our purpose, not the purpose of someone else. They may get applause—they might even get credit for what we've done—but the God who gave us our specific purpose knows, and He rejoices that we've obeyed Him in fulfilling His calling. Somehow, in the great scheme of the eternal plan, our part is significant, not because anyone else understood, but because it mattered to God.
It's little wonder, then, that King David longed to fill up his purpose in the kingdom of God. Doing what he was made to do was the only place where he would know real satisfaction. He couldn't be satisfied with less, even if less looked like more to other people. But David also knew that even though he was uniquely gifted and specifically called, he was not big enough or strong enough or wise enough to do what he was called to do. "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me," he reminds his soul in the face of personal inadequacy. The Lord who called is the Lord who will fulfill the call. "His steadfast love endures forever," David continues. "Do not forsake the work of Your hands" (Psalm 138). To say it another way, "If You don't come through for me, Lord, nothing I can throw at life will make any difference. You are my only hope. Your love is the only constant in my ever-changing world."
What will I be when I grow up? Seems like I should have answered that question about thirty-five years ago, and, in one sense I did: I found something of the essence of what God wanted me to do, it's just the way He has done it that has surprised me again and again. At fifty, I'm still asking, "Where to now, Lord?" And I'm believing that the God who called is the God who will fulfill His call even if no one else understands. Even if I don't understand.
What matters to God is that we obey Him: He will fulfill His call because He cares even more about it than we do. It's His kingdom that's at stake.
© Copyright August 2017 by Robert G. Robbins