(Guest post by Elisabeth Hemmeter, currently a student at Penn View Bible Institute)
Around 2020, I was gifted a tiny succulent that my roommate Danielle and I affectionately named “Ralph.”
Normally I’m not much of a potted plant person, but little Ralph was easy to care for because all I had to do was water him once a week.
Ralph sat in the window of the small house on Morrison Street, where I was privileged to live with my missionary aunt, Faith Hemmeter, until she passed away.
Somehow Ralph was connected in my mind to Aunt Faith and became special to me. He moved to two other houses with me, but then in the fall of 2021, I moved to Pennsylvania to attend college. Ralph stayed behind in the lonely window of a church-owned house. From time to time, I saw him when I returned for visits, but it just didn’t seem feasible to take him back to college with me.
During my visit home for Christmas break, Danielle and I decided to catch up over supper at a restaurant. As we drove, we reminisced about old memories of when we were roommates. Knowing our church wouldn’t mind, we decided to swing by our former residence, partially to check for mail (mail has often been sent there in my name since I left) and just for old memories’ sake.
I figured Ralph would probably be dead after all this time, but to my surprise, I walked into the kitchen to find him in his familiar spot on the windowsill.
He was alive!
He had bent over and grown lopsided, but he was blooming. However, what shocked me the most was that many baby plants had sprouted around the base of my plant. I did not know how he had made it so long without anyone living there to care for him.
I decided to take him with me this time, and I carried him to the Barnards’ house where I proudly showed Aunt Glenda my prized, bent-over little plant. She smiled with a glint in her eye and explained to me that she had often found my little plant nearly dead from lack of care and attention. At times, he had been so near death that she didn’t know if he would make it.
God reminded me of those I am praying for whose situations seem hopeless. There are so many who seem like they’re so abandoned and damaged that they might never recover.
Yet behind the scenes, God is breathing life into what appears to me as certain death and despair.
There is hope, not only for their survival but that they can bloom again, bearing fruit for His honor and glory.
No, Ralph will never look quite the same as he did, but somehow, he’s a new kind of beautiful to me. His bent form, now held up by props, leans over many baby plants that he never sprouted in his early, carefree days. I thought it was too late for him, but there he stands, not only living but blooming like he never has before.
A bruised reed shall he not break, And smoking flax shall he not quench, Till he send forth judgment unto victory. Matthew 12:20