“When you flourish, you become more you.” John Ortberg
As 2018 draws to a close, how will you end it: in fits or with a flourish? Also, how did those New Year’s Resolutions you made last January work out? Will 2019’s list be pretty much the same? Lose the weight, get that business off the ground, write the book, (ahem)…
Do you even remember what your goals were?
If that made you want to stop reading, I get it, but you can relax; this isn’t a post about how to miraculously cram a year’s worth of goal reaching into the next 30 days. I want to talk to you about what it means to really flourish (it’s different than success, by the way) and how even if you failed miserably on those resolutions you can still end the year with a flourish.
What does it mean to flourish
Flourish was my Word of the Year in 2010. I’m chuckling as I write this because 2010 was the year our lives “went to hell in a hand basket,” as Mom liked to say. I’ve written about it ad nauseam but if you’re new to the blog, it was the year we lost everything – the house, the car, and then the dog got run over by a car.
And yet, in retrospect, the loss led to gain and through the supernatural grace of God we flourished. How can that be, you might ask?
First, let’s define the word flourish (I love this word by the way and if you know me at all you’ll see why I was drawn to it):
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it, “to thrive, to grow luxuriantly, increase or enlarge. To be prosperous, to grow in wealth and honor. Grow in grace and good works. Move or play in bold or irregular figures. In music, to play with bold and irregular notes. To spread out. Brandish – as to flourish a sword. To embellish with the flowers of diction and to grace with ostentatious eloquence. Set off with a parade of words.”
I can’t help you with that “grow in wealth” part, (sorry, still working on it myself) but I guarantee you this: you can end your year with a flourish in the sense that you can thrive, grow in grace and good works, brandish the Word like a sword and praise God with ostentatious elegance.
You can even shoot out in glory, like a purple crocus that works its way out of the frozen snow.
The Hebrew words for flourish echo a similar meaning:
* to germinate, sprout, gush forth, boil up, rise above, raise up, heap up, increase, to produce, make cheerful.
Ps 92:14 “They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green.”
*blossom, shine, sparkle, gleam, twinkle, to be bright, emit splendor, show yourself (Be you-ier) Speaks of countenance.
Ps 103:15 “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.”
* to break forth as a bud, bloom, burst forth (as issuing from a womb) generally – to spread, extend the wings and fly, spring up.
Ps 92:12-13 “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.”
God’s plan for you is to flourish!
So is there a Scriptural formula to flourishing?
I’m always looking for an equation to follow. JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
I can’t give you a formula, ‘cause I haven’t found one. But as author John Eldredge says, “there’s a way things work.” Here’s some ways that work for me…
I call them the 4 F’s to Flourishing:
Faith means to have a firm and fixed confidence in God
We’ve all got that, right? As long as things are going smoothly. But then the engine blows on the car, our kid is doing drugs, our husband loses his job and we hit menopause. We start to question everything, everyone, including God. Including ourselves. And our faith.
Faith is believing that the great I AM…IS! He IS who he says he is! It’s coming to the place where we stop wringing our hands and start lifting them instead.
It’s solving once and for all the issue in your own heart of whether He’s really good. And whether his heart towards YOU is good.
Yes, we are to be in community. But for community to work, we have to have our own personal relationship with Jesus, possess our own faith. We can’t sub out our faith and unfortunately it’s all too common, especially for women:
We can’t sub out our faith to:
- Our pastor (pastor’s wife)
- Our husband
- Our prayer buddies
- Our favorite devotional writers
- Beth Moore
- Our worship teams
These are all good things – we need good teaching, good advice, a shoulder to cry on, people to pray for us, inspire us, lead us. But they should just whet our appetites to know God personally; to grow in faith.
If you want your faith to grow, if you want to flourish, you have to SEEK HIM. It takes effort!
IS 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” The word “seek” is “darash.”
It means to pursue, to search, to frequent or tread a place… to trample with the feet, beat a path. To learn, study; apply yourself; to worship.
You have to exercise your faith to flourish.
Focus means a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity. It comes from the Latin, meaning, “hearth or fireplace.”
The hearth or fireplace was traditionally the center of the home, the place where food was prepared, bodies were warmed; where activities took place. There’s a reason for the saying, “Keep the home fires burning.” It’s where life was sustained.
What sustains you?
Is it Jesus?
It’s in him we live and move and have our being.
Heb 12:1-2 says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Take your mind off of other things. Watch Him, not the crowd, not your circumstances, not your belly button!
Col 3:2-3 says, “Set your mind on the things above…. For you have died…” (Stay dead.)
Look up, not down. Move in the Spirit, not the flesh. When Jesus is your focus, you will begin to make better choices.
You will begin to flourish.
I’m on a campaign to eliminate Spandex in jeans. Yes, it makes them flexible, but they’re deceiving. You can squeeze into those size 10’s all day long, but I’m telling you, you’re really a 14. At some point you have to give up your pride and listen to the scale.
It means to yield, to be capable of being bent; mentally or spiritually pliant. We talk about being bent out of shape; that’s the closest some of us come to being flexible!
We sing, “I surrender all.” And we get all emotional. “Jesus! I want to live for you! I give you everything.”
I surrender ALL
He’s so amazing. He takes us at our word, knowing we’ll keep it for about ten minutes. Our spirit says, “Surrender and be free,” and our flesh cries out, “Are you craaazy?!”
The literal meaning of surrender is “give back.” We grasp and hold tight, clench fists and say ‘mine’ to all we hold dear when in truth its all just on loan.
What do you need to give back? Your family? Your dreams? Your perfectionism? Your search for significance?
That’s my list. What’s yours?
What do you need to surrender in order to be flexible, in order to flourish?
As a Christian, wanting to be fruitful (to flourish) is in our DNA. Think of the terminology sprinkled through the Old and New Testament:
Sowing, reaping, plowing, pruning, harvesting; I mean Jesus will do just about anything to make us fruitier.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5
fruit…more fruit…much fruit.
You know the list in Galatians: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Good luck manifesting any of that on your own.
If we want fruit, more fruit, much fruit, we need Jesus, more Jesus, much Jesus.
Then we will truly flourish.
We flourish “so that…”
Author John Ortberg, in his book “The Me I Want To Be,” says, “The spirit never just flows in us; he always flows through us so that others might flourish as well.”
I’m supposed to flourish and become fruitful so that there is a harvest of souls, not so that I become known as Saint Susan. Although it does have a kind of ring to it!
Flourishing begins with God’s word being active in our personal lives.
“For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, like a two-mouthed sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts.” TPT.
As the truth grows in us, we grow and bear fruit for the glory of Jesus Christ.
God didn’t create Adam and Eve and place them in the desert; he placed them in the garden. Flourishing was his plan all along.
Gen 2:10 says that a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden.
That’s what it means to flourish! His life flowing in and out of us.
It’s never too late to flourish.
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me, makes the lame to walk and the blind to see, opens prison doors and sets the captive free, I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me! Spring up o well, within my soul, spring up o well and make me whole, spring up o well and give to me that life abundantly!