Monday, March 05, 2012

Many of the plants from the Andes in Peru are grown as container plants by greenhouses in the USA

Years ago, I managed a wholesale greenhouse. Seasonally, one could walk in and see incredible beauty from one fiberglass wall to the other.

As a season drew near, it became more beautiful. During Christmas, you could see a an ocean of red (poinsettias). It was truly captivating.

Many would enter and say something like, "I would love to work here, it's always so peaceful!"

I could understand their sentiments. However, I understood what it took to get everything to bloom on time, and how critical it was for what was in bloom to be sold in a timely manner.

In short, I did not bask in the peace they believed to reside there. Fertilizer schedules with necessary implemented variations, insect control, disease control, fungi control, annual budgets, monthly budgets, sales quotas, shipping schedules, staffing, and a master plan of scheduling for all of the above, were my responsibility.

Greenhouse grown products are perishable, and one out of balance issue could devastate an entire crop.

One year as spring approached, all of my greenhouses were filled with bedding plants. Container geraniums, flats of petunias, marigolds, impatiens, begonias, flowering baskets, perennials and much more, took every inch of space.

Everything was scheduled out to bloom and be ready to ship for spring. Orders were coming in nicely. All seemed quietly pastoral.

However, trouble had been introduced in silent fashion.

I began to notice that many of the flats of bedding plants were dying. They were dying in specific order which allowed me to deduce exactly what irrigation time and what chemical additive (a fungicide) had been the cause.

I was convinced I would lose my job. I was deeply grieved.

Such an operation exists on very fine margins. Something like this would be catastrophic, and most difficult to recover from. Thousands upon thousands of plants were dying, and I could do little more than stand by and watch it happen.

I contacted my vendors. The suppliers of seed, seedlings, fertilizer, and other chemicals (including fungicide). Through a long and extremely painful process, I would find out that the origin of the problem, would be from a highly reputable chemical plant, where a disgruntled employee had introduced a poison into the fungicide in limited fashion.

The action of this individual would cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars. In all honesty, the revenue brought in during the spring bedding plant season, was between half and two thirds of our total annual sales volume.

There was no way to recoup the costs of lost plant material...lost sales.

Up to that point in my life, this was the most difficult thing I had ever been through. The amount of thought, calculation, detective work, seeking of wise counsel, and general stewing was overwhelming. I remember sitting in one of the greenhouses, surrounded by tens of thousands of dying plants, powerless and weeping.

No matter what I did, I could not change the outcome! I was utterly humiliated. Ruined, I thought.

Ultimately, the chemical company would settle with our organization (not a court battle) and take some of the sting out of this experience.

I learned an enormous life lesson that has served me well. I find myself reflecting on it again in our current days.

I cannot control the circumstances of life, but I can faithfully seek to walk in obedience to Him. If I am able to remain faithful, He will handle the details of my life.

I can set schedules, seek to impact circumstances or growth, but I am ultimately powerless to control life. If I find myself in a season of suffering, my responsibility isn't to leap off of the Potter's Wheel and cry "foul!"

Rather, I need to continue to seek Him, and allow Him to shape my life to the forms and contours He desires. I am far more useful in His hands, if I have allowed Him to direct my paths and bring growth in the areas I most need them.

There is no substitute for the crucible of suffering, for bringing about a more Christlike, humble servant.



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