As much as I hate to admit it, I don't have a green thumb. I love plants and always try my best, but I somehow manage to eventually destroy them. A friend once gave me a painted wooden cactus in a pot and said, "Here, you can't kill this." Umm, she was wrong.
I tried growing a garden the past few years in a row, but the success was so minimal that I didn't attempt it this year. Imagine my excitement that a vinca plant has stayed alive for nearly two months in a row on our west-facing porch! It remains green and continues growing larger everyday, and there are still many flowers.
How has this incredible feat been achieved? It must be because of two things. The first is that I pick off the dead blooms. Those dead flowers need to be removed in order for new growth.
I know picking dead blooms is not exactly pruning, but I can't help but think of Jesus' words in John 15:1-2: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." Whenever I pick off dead blooms, there are always fresh blooms in abundance popping out the next day.
The second thing that is surely keeping my plant alive is faithful watering. It would never survive if I watered it with a few gallons every couple of days. I doubt it would do very well if it got a few spoonfuls of water every hour, either. That nice, deep, consistent watering is what makes it thrive and remain strong enough to even survive a haboob.
Just like a plant that is not being regularly watered, our lives can wither away without Living Water. Jesus offered this to the woman at the well when He told her, "Everyone who drinks this water (from the well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14).
If you've lived in the desert for very long, you know the necessity of drinking physical water. But we also have a spiritual thirst that cannot be quenched by the most expensive bottled water. Consistent and regular intake of Living Water is the only way to satisfy that kind of thirst. I love Jesus' promise from Revelation 21:6: "To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life."
I looked closely at my beautiful plant a few days ago and saw that a couple of the stems were dry and withered and covered with little black bugs. Not wanting them to spread to the healthier-looking stems, I got a scissors to snip the dry ones out.
Upon closer observation, I realized that what appeared to be little black bugs were actually seeds! The dying stems must have put their energy into producing seeds, and as they wither away, the seeds will be scattered on the ground.
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:24-25).
With consistent water, pruning and the SON, there really can be growth in the desert in summertime!
• Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. Reached her at firstname.lastname@example.org.