I spent a wonderful morning a couple of weeks ago messing in damp soil, planting a dozen perennials that I’d bought from the clearance section at a garden center. They were all a bit bedraggled – some had lost their blooms, some were damaged and none looked like the beautiful photograph on the information stick in the pot.
But I know that with some TLC all these plants will be just fine next year. I look at the photo of the plant and the growing information as its “potential” indicator – it gives me an idea of how high it will grow, what color the flowers will be and how long they will bloom. So even if the plant’s stem is broken when I buy it and it’s currently 3” high, I know that at maturity it will grow tall, and I can plant it at the back of the bed. As long as I feed, water and protect these sad leftovers, our garden next year will have added color and texture, and I won’t have broken the bank!
How much more does God want to bring us to our full potential? We can encourage, support and inspire each other through the food and water of prayer. Prayer brings the power of God to bear on a life or situation. This is when we see paths straightened out, hurts healed and lives changed.
When we don’t know how to help a friend going through a divorce, or what to say to someone who’s just been laid-off, we can cover that person with prayer. This doesn’t mean we don’t follow through with practical help and encouragement, but it is watering the soul of that person with God’s power. He knows our potential, but he gives us the gift of participating in the process of bestowing tender, loving care on each other. And in that process He is glorified.
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience."
Col 1: 9-11