A few weeks ago, I recorded a video on Instagram of a climbing vine of jasmine I saw on an afternoon walk. It was their fragrance that first caught my attention. The vine had gracefully twisted its way up a tree- enveloping it with its beauty. A couple of weeks later, while at a friend’s house, I noticed another climbing vine in her front yard. I didn’t think anything of it until I started to notice the flowers nearly everywhere along my morning drive to work. You’re probably thinking this doesn’t sound strange. Well, for the last five years or so, I’ve taken the same route to work. Year in, year out – once I drop the kids at school – same route. Surely, this isn’t the first season that jasmine was in bloom. I had driven this route for years, and now, suddenly, jasmine is literally lining much of my drive to work. Nearly everywhere I looked there were jasmine bushes and climbing vines working their way up fences, trees and the sides of buildings. Near my kid’s school, the vine had overtaken the fence – creating thick walls that stretched on and on – camouflaging the school yard. And just in case you thought I was exaggerating, look no further than the picture of the jasmine bush shaped exactly like a Christmas tree. It’s as though these flowers had joined forces – conspiring to make their presence know – ensuring I wouldn’t miss them as I drove by. I couldn’t believe I had been surrounded by this flower for years, but I was only just noticing and appreciating their abundance and beauty. Then I wondered why I hadn’t noticed them before? And why was I noticing them now? Why was God bringing jasmine to my attention? I felt as though He were sending me virtual bouquets of jasmine with a message attached. If God wanted my attention, he certainly had it.
Many times, I’ve experienced God using patterns of some sort to get my attention. I am a strong believer that serendipity and coincidences are God in disguise. Therefore, my sudden attraction to this flower was no coincidence. So, I went to Google to dig up some facts about this flower. When I researched the meaning of jasmine, I found that it means – wait for it – God’s gift or gift from God – talk about a drop the mike moment! However, before I share my reflections with you regarding this beautiful revelation, here are a few other amazing things I learned about jasmine:
- Jasmine is linked to spring, new seasons because it blooms in the springtime, especially in the month of May.
- Symbolizes unity
- Means to share love and knowledge
- Symbolizes modesty, simplicity
- Decorates simple spaces with beauty
- Ethereal smell especially at midnight
- Triumph over adversity
- Modest, noble, elegant
Whew! Isn’t that beautiful? Do you remember I mentioned earlier it seemed as if God had attached a message for me to bouquets of jasmine? What a message! Well, I guess you could say it was a few messages. I thought, where do I start.? Everything single fact I discovered carried special significance – there isn’t enough room in this blog to cover each one. However, one stood out from the rest – God’s gift.
God’s gift. I had to sit with that one for a while, but what I realized was this. God himself is always with us, but we fail to recognize Him sometimes, don’t we? I’m guilty of that, or I was. Here I was – marveling at the abundance of jasmine – a flower that bloomed season after season, and I hadn’t noticed them although they were right in front of me. They certainly weren’t hidden. Just as I didn’t notice the jasmine, I failed to notice God during the most difficult times in my life. Why? Because my problems dominated my thoughts – sometimes my entire day. Trouble has a way of hypnotizing us – blinding us – distracting us – not only to all the beauty around us, but more importantly, to the very presence of God in our lives. That was me in a nutshell – going through the motions – always in a rush – bothered or distracted by something or the other. For a long time, I was on basically on auto-pilot. You know, those times when you’re driving, and you can’t recall anything between where you started and where you stopped. A therapist might say auto-pilot is something we do -unintentionally sometimes – to cope with stress. But God’s gift to us isn’t to live, frantic, distressed, distracted lives – coping and white-knuckling it day-by-day. No, that’s not an abundant life. God desires to give us exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or think, but I couldn’t receive this gift because I didn’t see God in my mess. I was much too busy paying attention to other things; desperately trying to execute my plans for my life. When I finally surrendered my plans to God – and stopped trying to fix my life on my terms – He changed my life in ways I cannot begin to describe. I wrote last week about becoming the butterfly within the last year. Well, I left those things that were distracting me from God – from my purpose – behind in that empty cocoon. The old things have fallen away, and I became something new – and my focus is on God and my relationship with Him. And because I am seeking a relationship with Him, now I can see the jasmine – I can see Him – I can see all the abundance and beauty that is available to me as long as I am connected to Him. And just like the jasmine – He surrounds us – He’s been there all along.
I once wrote a poem, and it began with these words: If all you see is suffering, then suffering is all you’ll see. If all you’re seeing is hurt, pain and everything that is wrong in your life, can you look again? And this time, look for the jasmine. Look for gift that is God and all that is good and precious in your life – those things you are grateful for. If you continue to look for the bad stuff – just like me – you will find it and it can dominate your life – your thoughts – blinding you to all the good that is available to you. You see, the jasmine didn’t suddenly appear this spring. It’s always been there. I just didn’t notice it for so long because so many negative things dominated my mind. Today, I have a new found appreciation for Philippians 4:8. The New International Version (NIV) states “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” What are you thinking about? What has you distracted? Are those things dominating your day? Your thoughts? If so, take a page from my book and begin to look for jasmine – look for God everywhere and in everything and you will find Him. He is not hidden. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss Him because I’m so distracted and dismayed by things that He’s already promised to work out for me. One of the greatest gifts God offers is a personal relationship with Him. He is head over heels in love with us and He deeply desires to have a personal relationship with us. When we seek Him with all our heart, mind and soul, we will always find Him, not only in the jasmine, but deep within our hearts – unmovable and abounding – the greatest love we will ever know.
Until next time, remember, with God, there is always hope.
With the greatest love,