My Nano Patch

                 My Nano Patch – In Search of A Rare Bird

My Stretlitzia, a.k.a. Bird of Paradise, finally bloomed again after a
four-year respite.  

The first time it bloomed four years ago, I was so smitten by its
exotic beauty that I decided to propagate it after it finished blooming
by dividing to make additional plants.  As I stationed them in
strategic spots of the garden, I envisioned a tropical paradise with
these rare birds perched atop stalks displaying their exotic form.  

In the horticultural world, propagation by division is a very common
practice among certain species.  The plants being divided usually
recover quickly and go on blooming as though nothing happened.  

In this case, however, the younger division struggled for a couple of
years before becoming acclimated enough to grow new leaves.  

The older plant, however, immediately went into shock after the
division.  It stopped blooming for four long years as though upset with
me, and channeled all its energy into nursing its wounds and growing
new leaves for photosynthesis – manufacturing of life-sustaining food,
in layman’s terms.  

Now, at long last, it has finally recovered and built up enough energy
to display an exquisite bird two days before Hurricane Rita, with two
more bloom stalks looming closely behind.  

As I pondered about possible spiritual lessons, I was struck by the
diversity of characteristics in the plant kingdom.  Each species has a
distinct set of characteristics coded into its genes.  For each species
to flourish and bloom, certain rules must be followed to ensure the
integrity of its characteristics.  For instance, for the Bird of Paradise to
bloom from year to year, its roots must be left undisturbed.  

The Lord made each of us in infinitely more delicate manner, and gave
each of us certain characteristics that are unique to each person.  Out
of billions of people on earth, no two individuals possess the same
characteristics.  Pretty amazing, I’d say.  

Just like the flowers, our individual characteristics are meant to
display the beauty and attributes of our Creator.  This is the “unity in
diversity” that we often referred to in our fellowship.  Diversity,
however, is not a license to do what we please.  Christ is the uniting
element.  Take this Unity away, the Christian world descends into
chaos.  Diversity for the sake of diversity but without Christ is as the
spokes in a wheel without a hub.  

Un-regenerated men have a strong desire to dominate other people by
imposing uniformity.  Historically it has been repeated over and over
that conquerors try to erase the diversity of those conquered by
forcing them into an arbitrary conformity.  

Sadly, even believers of Christ often employ uniformity to mass-
produce spiritual clones which eventually results in spiritual drought –
stalks without bloom – much like my rare Bird of Paradise.   

The Lord’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher than our

Someone once said, “the Devil works from outside in, the Lord works
from inside out.”  He works deep in our inner being through many
dealings to instill the essence and character of His Son; as the
essence and character of His Son increase in us, oneness with Christ
takes place, and blossoming takes place.  This is a slow, sometimes
painful, and life-long process.  But it always results in joy and glory
as the beauty of Christ comes into full blossom.  

The Lord’s way of working from inside out preserves our individual
characteristics: Peter remains Peter, Paul remains Paul.  They are
never forced or cloned into behaving alike and thinking alike.  But
inwardly, they are transformed into the same image of Christ.  Peter
maintains his distinctive characteristics and has a function and
ministry vastly different from that of Paul, yet they both manifest the
same Christ.  Yet the Christ that comes out of Peter carries a unique
flavor that Paul can never duplicate, and vice versa.  This is why all
the members of the body of Christ are necessary and precious.  

As great as it is, the Apostle Paul’s portion of Christ can never replace
a small sister’s portion.  Our Christ is simply too rich and full to be
displayed by just a few gifted and spiritual members, no matter how
great the capacities.  

Last Sunday, Kim shared with us a praise song that her young ones
sang at home in which a word, “Bam!” was added by one of the little
girls.  After Kim expounded it, we were all thrilled and sang the song
with the inserted word, “Bam!”  Everyone got a kick out of it.  A verse
in Psalm 8 comes into mind, “Out of the mouths of babes and
suckling, Thou hast established praise.”  Truer words, truer words….  

Despite the fact that Bird of Paradise dislikes being divided, it did
recover from the wound, and it is blooming joyously – four long years
later.  And I now have a second plant.  Considering the painful price
that it paid, and the glory and expansion that took place, isn’t this
how Christ did for us?  He paid the ultimate price on the cross, and in
resurrection brought forth glory and a vast expansion.  

Likewise, for us to possess fuller measures of Christ, a price upon our
soul life must be exacted.  For us to display the beauty and fragrance
of Christ, our “roots” that grasp firmly the earthly gains and pleasures
must be disturbed, yea, severed by the cutting of our skillful Master

This week, the weather has finally turned noticeably cooler.  The
scorching summer heat is coming to an end.  My rare bird has sensed
the changing season and put on a late show.  Soon, most of the
plants will rest from a productive season and gracefully welcome a
period of dormancy.  I’m sure there are lessons in it as well.  

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state
of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring” (Anon.)

Oliver Peng
Oct. 8, 2005