At the front of my house, right under our bedroom window, is a small flower bed. We moved into this house in August, but instead of planting bulbs in the fall, I decided to heed advice given to me many years before: Wait a year before doing any planting or digging in a new yard. Until you’ve been through an entire cycle of seasons, you have no idea what’s hiding under the soil, ready to make an appearance when it’s time. 

The following spring I waited with great anticipation to see what would reveal itself in my yard. The first green shoots were clearly daffodil stems; within a few days they formed a beautiful yellow-and-white row against the house. 

A few weeks later the daffodils were starting to look a little frail, but my attention was now drawn to a new row of green popping up in front of them. Eventually I was able to identify them as hyacinths. As the daffodils began to fade for the season, the hyacinths were just starting to show their full colors—lovely pinks and purples that practically glowed in the spring sunshine. 

I’m not a gardener, nor am I a botanist, so I can’t identify all the plants that appeared there; but from March until midsummer there was constant color and texture against the front of the house. Each time one row grew tired and began to wilt, another row of brand-new growth appeared in front of it. Every day when I came home from work it made me smile to see what was showcased in my flower bed. 

I don’t know who it was, but some previous resident of our home planned that flower bed perfectly. They knew exactly what to plant and in what order to ensure that little spot was more than just a patch of dirt.

And for their part, the plants knew exactly what to do. The short ground-cover plants didn’t bloom early. If they had, they would have choked the other flowers. The hyacinths waited until the daffodils were fading to make their appearance, and the daffodils didn’t try to compete with their neighbors. Each one did their best living when the time was right, pushing through and showing up just when they were meant to. None of them outshone another; they each played a part in making that flower bed shine.

Someone has planned the flower bed of our communities perfectly too. The Master Gardener knows exactly whom to plant and in what order to ensure each community is more than just a patch of dirt. He has planted each of us to serve a specific purpose and play a unique part in making our communities shine.

And for our part, we know exactly what to do: simply follow where He leads and seek His guidance. If we do, we won’t choke each other or compete—we’ll do our best living when the time is right, pushing through and showing up just when we’re meant to.

“God’s purpose [for you] . . . is wider, deeper, higher, than [your] restricted vision has comprehended.”*

* Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 262.

My family recently adopted two adorable kittens. We named them Ash and Willow—after the trees—and my kids, of course, were immediately obsessed with them, following them around the house, picking them up, and trying to snuggle and pet them. 

Often when we move to hold them, the cats scurry out of reach. If we’re successful in our attempts to contain them, they squirm and writhe until they get free of our arms and hurry away again. It isn’t because we intend to smother the kittens—we simply feel so much love for our new pets that we almost can’t help ourselves. 

Eventually we noticed that if the kittens are playing or otherwise entertaining themselves, they ’re not at all interested in being held or petted. But when they’re sleepy, they almost immediately begin purring when we give them attention. In fact, sometimes they even come looking for physical affection, mewing and rubbing against our legs until we pick them up. When we settle into bed or on the couch, they often will join us and will fall asleep snuggling against us. We just need to be patient and wait for them to come to us. 

How many times have I been like Willow and Ash when God has come looking to love me? I’m often wrapped up in my own life, blinders firmly in place, uninterested in anything Christ has come to offer—so I squirm, I run away, I hide. 

But eventually I get tired. This world wears me down, and I just want someone to hold me. To tell me I can relax, close my eyes, and rest. And in those moments when I go looking for God, He doesn’t snub me. He doesn’t refuse to hold me because earlier I ran from Him or because I got into trouble when I did. No. He stoops, lifts me gently into His arms, and holds me. 

After a while I may squirm to escape His hold again; I may feel trapped or restless or curious, and I may forget why I came to Him in the first place. And He’ll let me go. God in His infinite wisdom and love lets me jump from His arms and scamper toward those things that distract me so easily, which may or may not be in my best interest, and again He waits. 

Second Peter 3:9 tells us that “the Lord is . . . patient” (NRSV). Psalm 103:8 says He is “compassionate, merciful, patient” (GW);* and Isaiah 30:18 adds that He “waits to be gracious” to us (NRSV). In Revelation 3 we get the image of Jesus standing at the door to our hearts, knocking, waiting to be admitted (verse 20). 

God will not chase us, force us, coerce us, or beg us to spend our lives with Him. Instead, He invites us. He waits. He’s patient. And He’s there. It’s up to us to choose Him; to allow Him to scoop us up into His arms and snuggle us. 

* Scripture quotations credited to GW are taken from God’s Word. Copyright 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group. All rights reserved. 

Becky St. Clair is a freelance writer living in California with her husband and three children. She has a decade of experience in public relations for the church, and currently writes and copyedits for various church entities around the world. 

I was sitting on a cement step, leaning against a doorframe, watching the crowds move like living waves across the Cour Napoléon, the courtyard sur­rounding the giant glass pyramid that serves as the primary entrance for the Louvre Museum in Paris. My travel jour­nal was open on my lap, but I wasn’t writing much; the scene in front of me was entrancing , and I could hardly believe it was real.

It was 2003. I was a junior in college, and I’d worked hard to save enough to spend a semester studying abroad. My home base was in a suburb of London, but I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower before returning to the United States, so I spent a day in Paris.

I didn’t notice the man until he was standing right in front of me. I was intent on memorizing every moment of my day in Paris. He said something, but as I’d been on French soil no more than six hours and had memorized only a few of the most necessary phrases in French, I had no idea what it was.

My awkward smile and quick shake of the head told him all he needed to know, and he smiled and said in accented English, “May I sit?”

And so began one of the most unex­pected conversations I’ve had to this day. We simply chatted there on the doorstep about school, travel, and, to my great surprise, faith. This young man didn’t claim any religion, but he respected those who did. He asked a lot of questions, and I answered as best I could.

We must have talked for an hour, and I watched the pyramid at the center of the plaza glow brighter as the sky around us grew darker. Eventually I bid the gen­tleman good night, and as we stood together, he looked me in the eye and said, “If I ever meet another Seventh­-day Adventist, I will know they are a good person, because I have met you.”

That comment has stayed with me all these years because it’s a humbling reminder (and perhaps a warning) that I represent something bigger than myself. Someone bigger than myself.

I’m reminded of that child­hood memory verse, “Let your light shine before oth­ers, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).* The world watches what we do, and—correctly or not—they judge the character of Christ based on who we are or seem to be. Somehow I managed to shine a bright light that evening, but I’m sure there are plenty of other moments when my behavior was not so flattering.

That experience in Paris taught me that as I go about my daily life, I must be aware that even simple interactions—placing my order at a restaurant, driving in traffic, responding to a delayed flight, talking with my children—can leave an impression not only of my own character but of Christ’s. And I must be mindful, always.

* From The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Becky St. Clair is a freelance writer living in California with her husband and three children. She has a decade of experience in public relations for the church, and currently writes and copyedits for various church entities around the world.