Stinky Promises

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Have you ever heard of the Amorphophallus Titanum? I’m betting that for most people reading this blog, you haven’t. Maybe you’ve heard of the Corpse Flower though? I mean – perhaps you haven’t even heard of that. It’s cool. No big deal.

I might be stretching this one a little bit – but on Tuesday I took a quick adventure into DC to witness the blooming of the Amorphophallas Titanum; which will be known as Titan Arum for the rest of this post, and as I collected the pictures to add to this post…I had a thought.

I suppose not so much a thought as a divine reminder. Perhaps you’ve heard…seen…read this verse before?
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” – Luke 11:13

A (very) sunny day in DC…very sunny indeed.
Joining the end of the line…wrapping around the building…
We are so close to the door…and the stink…
See all the clouds that provided none of the shade? Ha!

I realize you’re probably looking at these pictures and that verse and thinking “that flower must have been giving off more than just a smell”…but go with me on this…okay?

The Titan Arum is a relatively rare plant  that hails from the rain forests of Sumatra, Indonesia and to see one in bloom is even more rare. You see, the Titan Arum has no annual blooming cycle. The plant emerges from and stores energy inside it’s underground stem and only when it’s built up enough energy does it finally bloom. This can take anywhere from a few years to a decade and when the plant finally blooms, it will only be in bloom for 24-48 before collapsing. 

The flower is nicknamed “the Corpse flower” because it gives off a smell that well…isn’t quite so flowery. The smell is most often compared to a combination of garlic, old diapers, fish and rotting meat…not exactly the ideal bloom for a garden, right?

The first glimpse of the Titan Arum
Amorphophallus Titanum
Danielle & I – the mid-day corpse flower seeing adventurers!
Cheesing it up with the Big Stinky in the background.

The US Botanic Garden is home to 13 of these plants and in 2013 another Titan Arum bloomed. I watched that bloom via the live feed from the US Botanic Garden (check that out here…) and as I watched it I thought to myself “perhaps the next time that plant blooms, I’ll live near DC and I can go see it in person…”

You see – in 2013 I was homesick. Now; I say that, I had a home but I’m certainly more of the mind that what makes a home are the people…and I was living with just my pup. My family was in Virginia and Colorado…I was in Mississippi and I was wishing and hoping and praying with all my heart that I would be able to sale my house and move to Virginia myself. So when I watched that live feed of the Titan Arum blooming, what I was really thinking (praying) was “please Lord…if you will just let me sale my house…I just want to live close enough to this flower to see it bloom…”

Not because I was wholly concerned about seeing the flower bloom, mind you… But if I lived close enough to witness the next bloom, it would mean I was obviously living in Virginia and that was what I was really praying for… I wasn’t even taking into account that even if I lived in Virginia the next time the Titan Arum bloomed, I’d hopefully have a job and responsibilities that would likely keep me from jaunting off to the Botanic Garden to see a plant. I just knew where I wanted to be and I wanted the Lord’s will to line up with that…

Seriously – a hugely majestic flower. It’s 7 feet 4 inches tall…
Take a deep breath…what do you smell?
Looking around the Botanical Garden – so lovely!

And here’s where that whole promises thing comes into play. Fast forward to March of 2015 when I had just gotten a job and one day my co-worker Danielle and I were having a discussion and “big stinky” came up. I mentioned my thoughts about going to see it a couple years earlier when it had bloomed…mostly because going to see it meant I’d be living in Virginia. Danielle mentioned seeing the Titan Arum in bloom was on her bucket list and I’m pretty sure we both thought nothing of it again…

Over the past weekend Danielle sent me a text message about the Titan Arum; it was beginning to grow and peak bloom was sure to be anytime! We joked that maybe our boss would let us take an “office field trip” to see the plant…and much to our surprise, when we jokingly mentioned it in our Monday morning staff meeting, he told us we could certainly go!

So – when we saw on Tuesday morning that it had bloomed, knowing our window of time was short, we hopped in the car and headed into DC. We navigated the traffic, walked along the streets in the early August heat and joined the line snaking around the building…everyone waiting for their chance to see this rare plant in bloom. And within what seemed like minutes – I was standing in front of the Titan Arum – a murmured wish…a whispered prayer…brought to fruition. 

Just a few hours into it’s 24-48 hour blooming!
Deep in the wilds of…not the jungle…hehehe
Talk about a greenhouse!

You see – I just murmured an offhand prayer as a girl longing to be “at home” and thought nothing of it. But the Lord takes even the smallest requests and answers them mightily. I never once thought I’d actually see that plant…I never once thought that maybe even if I lived in Virginia that I could just rush off to see a flower bloom whenever I pleased. I didn’t wonder if I’d have a friend who would be just as interested in seeing that flower bloom… I honestly didn’t think of any of it again.

The Lord though – he answers those “silly” (to me) little prayers in ways we don’t even realize sometimes…

I moved to Virginia and moved on with life. And this past weekend, a text from a friend reminded me of that whispered prayer from three years ago…”I want to be able to see that flower bloom…because it will mean I am home…” The Lord reminded me that he hears every word we say and he delivers…oh He delivers. This was such a small request and yet – I saw that plant in bloom. The Lord heard me and my simple request…the Lord heard me and…
  • Allowed me to move to Virginia…not just any time, He allowed me to move before the flower bloomed again.
  • Allowed me to have a job where my boss says “sure – go check out a stinky plant!”
  • Allowed me to have a friend who wanted to go just as much as I did
Perhaps I need one of these to grow?
A fleeting last look….

Just a gentle reminder to me: If the Lord was more than faithful to deliver on such a simple little prayer…won’t He be more than faithful to deliver on those bigger prayers? Certainly in will be in His time and in His will…but why do I (we) fret and worry when the Lord is always working things out for our good? 

I whispered that prayer not really hoping to go see that flower (although I definitely thought it would be cool to see…) but really hoping to just be living in Virginia the next time the Titan Arum in DC bloomed. The Lord heard that and not only did He bless me with that move to Virginia, but he also did sort of a God wink…and I got to go see that big ol stinky plant too.

I think if I look at my life, I can see God answering those big and small requests. I know the big requests make more of an impact – that’s why they’re big – but there is something to realizing that the Lord answers the little things too. The Lord gives gifts above and beyond what we ask or expect – even if those gifts just happen to come in the form of a mid-day road trip to see a stinky flower! His promises are unfailing…like His love and the gifts He gives us are more than we could hope for.

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