God Gave Me Thrips

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First of all, no, thrips is not an STD (it's what it sounds like, right?)

Second of all, let me give you a bit of background.

MY FAVOURITE PLANT, THE IVY GERANIUM

I like gardening. It all started when we bought a house and had to do up our garden (you can read about that here), and my interest only got bigger from there. Bigger, but also more specific.  I became obsessed with a particular type of plant – the ivy geranium (or more accurately, ivy pelargonium). I like them for a long list of reasons, but I’ll keep it brief for the sake of the non-gardeners amongst us (I promise there’s something in this post for you too). They have glossy green leaves, an abundance of flowers for most of the year, they are easy to propagate and the flowers come in the most gorgeous range of colours, shapes and sizes.

My favourite ivy geranium, "Patricia"

WHEN AN INTEREST BECOMES AN ADDICTION

At the beginning of 2017, I joined the Geranium and Pelargonium Society of WA (GAPSWA for short) and started going to the monthly meetings that they hold. Through this, I discovered the sheer number of varieties of ivy geraniums and was absolutely captivated by the beauty of them. I began my collection in earnest. It grew from 5 different kinds to around 50 in only a few months. I spent all my pocket money on them and devoted all my free time to growing them, caring for them, reading about them and thinking about them. My husband and daughter were not allowed to go near them and the couple of occasions where they did, and accidentally snapped off a branch or two, I got really (disproportionately) angry. My husband started off teasing me that I was addicted to this hobby of mine, but over time the comments became less joking and more serious. I denied it of course, but I think I knew deep down that things were getting a bit out of hand.

These are just some of the geraniums I had in my collection only a few months after I started collecting

THE PLAGUE OF THRIPS

Winter 2017 was a long one for me, waiting for the warmer weather to come and speed up the growth of my geraniums (I grew most of them from cuttings, so it took a while for the first flowers to appear and I was very impatient about this). Finally spring arrived and all my new plants started to flower.

Enter the thrips.

I didn’t know what they were at first; I just saw these tiny little bugs crawling around inside my flowers. I thought maybe they were tiny caterpillars, so I sprayed accordingly. They continued to hang around. I began to get worried because the flowers that were their dwelling were aging and shriveling up far too quickly. They barely lasted a day before the thrips had (literally) sucked all the life out of them. I had waited all this time for my plants to flower, and now the thrips were destroying them!

This is a zoomed in shot of the photo at the beginning of this post. The black sliver is actually a thrip (this was taken at the start of the plague, before they had multiplied much)

WORSHIPPING AN IDOL?

The thrips plague lasted for months, despite doing everything I could to get rid of them. I know, I know, it was a massive first world problem and it’s really quite laughable how upset I got about it.
I stopped enjoying going out into the garden because I would feel depressed that my geranium flowers looked so poorly. My thoughts were frequently consumed with what to do about it. There was one day where I had my parents over for morning tea, but I could barely talk to them because I was so busy worrying about my thrips problem and thinking about what I could do to get rid of them. I think that was a pretty good indication that my interest in geraniums was no longer a healthy one. Had I….begun to worship them? Let’s look at the signs, markers of worship:

    • My heart was captivated by their beauty
    • I spent nearly all my free time devoted to their care
    • I talked about them, frequently (my husband complained how much)
    • I spent all my pocket money on them
    • I felt disproportionately devastated when they were harmed by the thrips.


Hmmmm…..


I began to realise that I had replaced God with geraniums. How ridiculous is that? Instead of going to him for my joy, I went to geraniums. Instead of going to him to find my purpose, I found my purpose in growing (and later selling) healthy geraniums. Instead of spending quality time with him, I gave him the bare minimum so I could go off and spend more time with my geraniums. The reason I was so disproportionately devastated when the thrips came was because I had made geraniums far, far, FAR too important in my life. They were an idol.

This is actually really embarrassing to admit.

Idols come in many shapes and sizes, not all are this literal

TRIALS OF VARIOUS KINDS

James 1:2 promises Christians that they will experience “trials of various kinds”. The purpose of these trials is also stated in the next verse: “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness”. Now, it probably seems ludicrous that thrips could be a trial (I mean, come on, how good does this girl have it that the worst problem in her life is thrips). But the reality was (and I am ashamed to admit this), it WAS a trial for me, a difficulty. It really upset the balance of my life for a while because I had invested so much into this hobby and now all the joy had been taken out of it.

The other reason I see it as a trial is because it revealed the state of my heart. It revealed to me that I had actually begun to worship something other than God. That’s the purpose of a trial, right? The testing of my faith? Well, thrips tested my faith and found it wanting. I didn’t say, along with Job, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” when my geraniums were harmed (they weren’t even taken away, sheesh); instead I got angry and depressed and didn’t give God the time of day.

That isn’t where it ended though, I am thankful to say. James says that the end result of trials, the testing of our faith, is steadfastness. God doesn’t bring trials to punish the Christian. We are under no condemnation because of Jesus. He is jealous for us though, and will bring us trials to discipline us and cause us to come back to him when we stray. He wants us to be steadfast in him, and him alone. This is what thrips did for me. They tore me away (kicking and screaming) from my idol of geraniums. I no longer found joy in them, I realised they wouldn’t (couldn’t) fulfill me, and I gave up on them. Eventually (these things do take time), I got my priorities straight again, God being at the top like he should be.

I still enjoy my geraniums and have a significant number of them. But the difference is, I think now the level of enjoyment and time I invest is proportionate to what they are – part of God’s wonderful creation and the good gifts he gives, but not God himself.

WHAT ARE YOUR GERANIUMS AND THRIPS?

How about you, Christian? What are your metaphorical geraniums? The things you are worshipping instead of God? It doesn’t matter how silly they may seem, as I hope my example proves. They could be anything. How about your metaphorical thrips? What are the trials in your life that might actually be God’s way of showing you your idols and pulling you back to him? 

God Gave Me Thrips

12 comments

  1. Sometimes I wonder if blogging is my thrips - other times it can be catch-up TV, or reading a good series of books, or whatever I choose to fill my time with rather than using it for growing in my walk with God. Getting older has taught me more about balance and not giving all my energies to something transient (but I'm always a work in progress).

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    1. I think there are probably lots of things in all of our lives that have a tendency to push God out! I'm going to have to keep an eye on blogging myself as I go on! Can definitely see it becoming addictive and all-consuming... We're all works in progress though, you're right about that. Praise God that he helps us. Xox

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  2. Great post - lots to think about!

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    1. Glad you found it stimulating :-)

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  3. What an amazing lesson from some teeny tiny bugs! It made me realize there are many things that make me feel that way too... little distractions turning to big problems and taking away from what really matters... Like a messy house and constant housekeeping distracting me from spending quality time with my little tots.
    Thanks for the eye opening reminder that lessons can be found anywhere !
    ♥ Jay @ motherbodysoul.com

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    1. Yep, often it's in the small stuff that we learn the big lessons! Thanks for stopping by and commenting :-)

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  4. Plenty of such instances for me. When I get involved in something, sometimes I just get obsessed with it; and many of the other pressing commitments get neglected.
    In our local language, there is a saying, which when translated would be: "Even honey, in excess, is poison."
    Which only means that everything in life should be in moderation. Nothing should be in excess.
    For me, I have felt that when I have crossed the limit, there is a divine intervention in the form of a hurdle, which reminds me that, well, it's time to slow down.
    Take care,
    - Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.in

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    1. You sound just like me Pradeep! I tend to get extremely passionate about a thing and like you, everything else falls by the wayside. It always concerns me most though if it displaces my top priority, my faith in God. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment :-)

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  5. Great post, as always. As the saying goes, an idol results "when I make a good thing a god thing". Which means I'm always at risk, there are plenty of good things in my life that can so easily become "god things" when there should be only one God in my life. Thanks for the timely reminder xx

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    1. So true, Sue. I think we often justify idols for far too long because they are often "good things"! Always love to get your comments. xox

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  6. God certainly works in mysterious ways - even through thrips! What a wonderful lesson! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger's Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

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    1. He uses all sorts of things to remind us of him doesn't he! It was my pleasure to link up, thanks for stopping by my blog :-)

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