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Posts Tagged ‘rockery plants’

Whenever I look out over those rugged ranges in the Blue Mountains that seem to stretch forever, I often wonder how the early explorers felt when faced with such a formidable barrier. But while visiting the Botanical Gardens at Mount Tomah last week, some words on a plaque at a lookout gave me a little more insight. They were originally written by an early explorer who stated how he could not find words to describe how incredibly difficult it was to traverse the mountainous terrain around him, except to say it was akin to ‘climbing across the steep roofs of houses, one after the other’. That poor man—how intrepid and tenacious he must have been! And how his heart must have sunk when, after congratulating himself on reaching the top of one unforgiving mountain range, he was faced with another … and another … and another!

Sometimes our lives can feel like that, can’t they? We may manage to fumble our way through a demanding week or month, only to discover an even more demanding week or month around the corner. Or perhaps you have a relative or friend for whom life never seems to be straightforward. Instead, they seem to face one huge challenge after another, only just managing to get their head above water before the next onslaught comes. Perhaps that may even describe your own life at times. So when that happens, how can we stay in that place of peace we know God can provide for us?

IMG_20191107_121153435These thoughts were in my mind when we went on to visit the Jenolan caves area. While having lunch there, I happened to glance at the rock wall nearby. It had quite a sheer surface, but here and there in the small crevices, various ferns and other plants had managed to find a foothold and were flourishing. How had they survived there? It hadn’t rained much of late and the snow season was over. Then I noticed a small waterfall flowing down one side of the cliff face. No doubt some of this water at least was finding its way along the crevices and enabling those tenacious plants to survive, as they clung to that rocky surface in such an exposed position. In that moment, I sensed God prompting me to see that, here before my eyes, was a clear picture from nature of how to weather the challenges of life in the best way possible. Just like those plants, we must all cling onto the Lord, our strong, unshakeable rock, who will sustain us with the lifegiving water we need to survive—and, in fact, even to thrive.

For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18:31-33

I hope I am never called upon to be as intrepid and tenacious as those early explorers must have been, to tackle those rugged mountains one after the other. But I hope and pray I always remember, whatever challenges life brings, to cling to the Lord, hide in those rocky clefts with him and rely on his strength to see me through.

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A few weeks ago, I decided it was high time we attacked our back ‘garden’, which for some strange reason had become an amorphous mass of weed. I dug and pulled and piled up tons of rubbish—and eventually these beds were ready again for replanting.

I decided to choose very hardy, quick growing ground cover plants that would suit a sunny rockery area and also be relatively inexpensive. I came home with some bargains—a few humble old gazania plants, a convolvulus, two varieties of portulaca, several ‘Million Bells’ plants like mini-petunias, some lobelia and a small lillipilli tree. I planted them all out straight away—just in time to receive all the rain we have had lately.

Now I was sure some of these plants would wither and die in the first few days. The soil in these beds is by and large so poor—and some areas are almost as hard as the nearby rocks. But amazingly, most have grown well and are now bearing bright, new flowers.

But here’s where I stand back in awe and ponder our amazingly creative God. Yes, all these plants are fairly common and—well—garden variety! Yet as I look closer, each one of the tiny flowers that has now appeared blows me away with its shape and colour and intricate markings. Even the widely different textures and shades of greens in their foliage are fascinating—not to mention the fact that one of my portulacas is able to produce an array of differently coloured blooms from one and the same plant! As for the flowers on the common old gazanias, while they are similar in colour, they still vary amazingly in the pretty markings on their petals. All this abundance in my own humble backyard, with minimal assistance from me.

Yet something else amazes me even more. When I complained about the terrible state of our garden, various friends told me not to worry about it. After all, almost no one else sees it. They’re right too—and even we don’t go down there all that often. But that doesn’t seem to make any difference to God. These hardy, little plants produce their bright array of flowers whether anyone sees them or not. And this is even more true when it comes to our Australian wildflowers. Years ago, during a wonderful drive over the Alpine Way in southern New South Wales one Christmas, I saw so many tiny, tiny flowers, each formed so perfectly. But how many more were tucked away in rock crevices or down beside some mountain stream where no one would ever venture?

What an amazingly diverse and liberal Creator we have, even when there is no one to admire such marvellous, natural works of art! Our God is the original, perfect Creator, from whom all our own creativity flows. I look back at the seven books I have written with gratitude, knowing I could not have woven these stories without God’s creativity at work in and through me. And even as I write this, I know I can only do so because I am made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). How much in this world and within ourselves do we take for granted, as if no master hand has designed and sustains everything? May we instead join with the words of the psalmist in Psalm 95:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

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