I love these robust blooms! They are not just stunning in size and color, they have a certain swagger about them that makes me smile. A certain boldness that inspires me. Just when my other plants are withering in the intense summer heat, my hibiscus thrives.

I never planted it. It was here before I arrived – a native and a precursor to all my grandiose ideas for a garden. I hardly notice it, while I dandle over my more delicate specimens, treating them with kid gloves. This bright variety of hibiscus – whose name I know not – sustains itself with not much more than scant rainwater, in a dry, caked bed of soil never disturbed by trowel or tender care. And yet, there it is, on a hot, lazy morning, when nothing else has the energy to exert itself, beaming – broadcasting its glory– when everything else has given up. It does not falter. It does not faint.

I am thinking about seasons of my own life. Hot dry spells, with wilted leaves and droopy countenance. I am thinking of fallow periods – imperfect, unpampered conditions, in which it is so easy to concede productivity. “Only if it is easy, will I proceed,” I say. “Only if all things fall into place at exactly the right time, will I move forward.” “Only if I can rally a grass roots movement to support my slightest reflex will I think I am called to something new.” No, that is not the message of this defiant showpiece that waves boldly in the unrelenting sunshine.  It boasts not its outward beauty but the unexpected strength that emerges under duress. It reminds me how foolish we are to let circumstances out of our control determine what we offer to the world.

So I take courage from this hardy friend who greets me this morning, gathering it to myself. I am reminded, as I arrange its cheery blossoms in the vase on my windowsill, of Paul’s admonition to:

fan into flame the gift of God which is in you. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

 “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves,
but our competence comes from God.

 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold…

We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:4-5,12,18)

Thanks be to God!