The Lone Tulip

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. —Galatians 6:9 NIV 

I noticed it one spring day coming up the driveway after work: a lone, bright red tulip swaying in the breeze in front of the stone foundation.

“Where did that come from?” I wondered. I’d given up planting flowers—or anything, for that matter—because either the country critters consume them or our stubborn soil defeats their efforts to grow and blossom.

Then, slowly, a memory surfaced: About twenty-some years earlier, I’d ordered a hundred spring bulbs from a seed catalog and planted them in a stone-bordered circular flower garden in the front yard. My dream was to have some kind of flower in bloom all through the growing season. 

With the exception of the marigolds, though, few seeds I planted even sprouted, and what did struggled to survive. Those bulbs I planted with so much hope ended up in some deer’s stomach. 

But where did this lone tulip come from? In my sketchy memory, I thought I’d planted them all in the circular flower garden. 

“I must have planted a few along the foundation,” I reasoned.

I’m not an expert, so I have no idea how or why, after more than two decades, that lone tulip pushed up out of nowhere through the spring soil and now stood tall and proud in the soft spring sun. 

But I thought about that lone tulip and what it could mean. I thought of the seeds I’d planted in service to Him, hoping they would someday come to fruition. How many had sprouted? How many were growing in their faith? Thriving? How many were serving God? Of the ones I knew, very few. How disheartening! To think you pour your heart and soul into something or someone, and, like my failed flower garden, nothing grows. Were all my efforts in vain?

Sometimes we get too caught up in results, in numbers, in feedback. The business world tells us to put our efforts where we know we get results. But God’s service is not the business world. I thought of the greatest seed-planter in the Bible—Paul. He wasn’t caught up in the numbers game. He knew what his job was and kept his focus on that.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow,” he wrote (1 Corinthians 3:6).

It’s hard being on the front lines of service. In this results-and-rewards-minded world, it’s difficult not to evaluate our efforts by the outcome. But God tells us not to look at results but to keep our eyes fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:1–4). 

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm,” Paul wrote. “Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

 When I’m feeling like I’m a failure in Your service, Lord, remind me that You are the One who makes my life’s garden grow. Give me the strength and fortitude to keep on planting, even if I don’t see the blossoms until eternity. Amen.

MORE TEA: Read and reflect on Psalm 126:5–6.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Money Pit

Daniel McGinnis, John Smith and Anthony Vaughan begin digging in 1795.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” –Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 13:44 NIV

One summer day in 1795, young Daniel McGinnis found what appeared to be a depression in the ground. The teenager, who lived on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia called Oak Island, knew the area was reputed to have been frequented by pirates. Oak Island was one of three hundred small isles in the Mahone Bay, perfect for hiding pilfered treasures. So Daniel returned the next day with two of his friends and started digging.

He never found anything. What he did do, though, was spark a treasure hunt that spanned two hundred years, cost millions of dollars, and claimed half a dozen lives, including a daredevil motorcyclist and his eighteen-year-old son in 1959.

Excavators, digging and drilling to nearly two hundred feet, discovered charcoal, putty, spruce platforms, oak chests, layers of wood and iron, coconut fibers, parchment, loose pieces of metal, a cement vault, a human hand, a mysterious inscription on a stone, a flood tunnel, booby traps—but no treasure.

Money Pit on Oak Island

What really lies at the bottom of what’s called the Money Pit? Treasure buried by Captain Kidd, who used the area for R & R and to repair his ships? The original works of Shakespeare or Sir Francis Bacon? The crown jewels of France, which vanished four years before McGinnis stumbled onto the site? The long-lost Holy Grail? Or is the Money Pit nothing more than an old ammo dump?

No one knows. But who can resist the lure of buried treasure? Note the popularity of films such as National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean. Why do such stories appeal to us? Perhaps because we all harbor a secret dream that we will find a treasure that will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams. What wouldn’t we give for a chance at it?

That’s why Jesus used this analogy in describing the kingdom of heaven.

“The kingdom of heaven,” He said, “is like treasure hidden in a field.”

Since there were no banks in the first century, it wasn’t uncommon to hide treasure in the ground. If the person who buried it died without disclosing the whereabouts of his cache, it was finders, keepers.

“When a man found it,” Jesus continued, “he hid it again, and then went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

That’s how valuable the kingdom of heaven is. The late missionary Jim Elliot understood this.

“He is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose,” he once said. Elliot was one of five missionaries murdered by the Auca Indians in 1956.

Mother Teresa also understood this, as did Hudson Taylor. And William Tyndale. And many others like them who gave all they had in order to serve the King. They knew that what they relinquished was minuscule compared to what they received—the kingdom of heaven. They gave that which they could not keep to gain that which they could not lose.

Now, that doesn’t mean we have to run off and become missionaries when we submit to the rule of King Jesus. But it does mean that our priorities change. Our perspective changes. What we once thought was so important no longer is.

It means that, like Paul, we say, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ” (Philippians 3:8 NLT).

What about you—where is your treasure?

Dear God, I still cling to things that moth and rust can destroy, and thieves can steal. Remind me daily of where my real treasure lies. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 13:44; Philippians 3:7–8.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Interest piqued? Find out more about The Money Pit here: “Oak Island Money Pit: The Last Great Unsolved Mystery

First photo courtesy of