Thanks to one of my neighbors, my third grader is developing a green thumb. The opportunity is a reminder that God can and will provide the means for us to blossom where we're planted, because if my daughter had to rely on my example, her gardening skills might qualify her for a "semi-green thumb" instead.

This neighbor and her husband left the country yesterday with a group of the middle school students they both teach.  The couple is traveling to Thailand with the youth for an international sports competition.

While preparing for the 10-day trip, they realized they'd need someone to care for the beautiful hanging plants that adorn their front porch.

So over the weekend, the wife came over and asked for my daughter's assistance. She brought a watering jug and transported the six plants to our backyard, where they're providing a splash of color and beauty that is breathtaking.

Yesterday, as my daughter carefully filled the jug to the rim and slowly watered each plant at its root, her confidence level visibly increased. She was proud that an adult (besides a parent) had believed she could handle such an important job.

Entrusting her with a task that could mean life or death for these plants was akin to telling her that she is smart, responsible and good at caring for something and someone besides herself.

As I watched her work, I thought about the similarities between her experience and the relationship God seeks to develop with us.

Just as my neighbor handed over her beloved plants to my daughter for safekeeping, God has given us talents, gifts, dreams, opportunities and relationships to nurture into something beautiful. 

Yet how many of us ignore the whispers from deep within to follow a certain path or complete a longed-for goal? How many of us who are given important tasks devote so much time to assessing the obstacles that we give up before we've really begun?

When we make those choices, have we considered that we may, in a sense, be telling God we really don't believe He has the power and the wisdom to see us through?

Have we considered that we're sending Him the message that He must have made a mistake when He gave us a particular set of skills or personal connections, because there's no way we can accomplish what's set before us?

If your gift is singing, are you using it today in some way that brings God glory - whether through participating in a church choir, recording an album, or entertaining an older friend or relative?

If you have the ability to naturally encourage others, do you regularly cheer people who cross your path in moments of crisis, despair, fear or doubt?

If you're a parent, guardian, or someone who plays a significant role in the life of a child, are you preparing that youth to someday fulfill his or her life's purpose? Certainly, that purpose may not be readily event, but do you consider your presence pivotal in helping that youth discover where God is leading? 

My daughter's future could include a long-term affinity for gardening.  It's too early to tell.

At the very least, she'll be better prepared to assist with the Children's Garden her school planted last spring as a teaching tool for the students.

More importantly, I hope she'll learn a lesson that many adults would do well to remember: When God blesses you with an opportunity,  it's often preparation for where He wants to take you next - only if you're willing and trusting enough to go.

James 1:16-18  - Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.


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Stacy Hawkins Adams is the author of the Christian fiction novels Nothing but the Right Thing and Speak To My Heart. She is also a freelance writer and inspirational columnist. Stacy often speaks to audiences about the blessings that come with authentically living one's faith. She and her husband, Donald, have two children. She invites feedback at stacy@stacyhawkinsadams.com.