Thursday, September 22, 2011
Look closely near the center of this picture at the teeny tiny sunflower. It is located right smack in the middle of our brush pile. Choking and invasive plants such as Ivy, Bittersweet Nightshade, and Morning Glories can be seen growing among and around the twigs and plants. Pebbly soil is underneath, while shade from a giant oak tree is overhead. Not the best place for a sunflower to grow!
You can see the same little flower in the bottom third of the picture. Now lift your eyes to the top right corner of the picture to see the sunflowers I transplanted along my fence a few months ago. They had been volunteers the same as the tiny one, but I had moved them to a place where they could thrive. And thrive they did! They look between six and nine feet tall. I smile inside each time I see them, and the birds love them. Don't we all kind of crave those kind of optimal conditions in our own lives?
The lesson for me comes from that little one, which looks to be about two feet tall. Everything about its surroundings seems all wrong, yet there it is bravely blooming in spite of it all. I want to be like that flower! Don't you? Don't you want others to see the beauty of the Lord emanating from you no matter what "stuff" is making it a struggle for you?
Lord, thanks for patiently speaking to me day after day. I see You everywhere, and You are such a comfort to me. You know that my circumstances would not be considered ideal by many, including myself. I want You to know that I trust You with what You're doing. And, Lord, could You strengthen me to bloom "in spite of" just like that little flower? I want to bring glory and honor to You. In the beautiful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Anna-Frances and I dropped off a covered dish this morning for a funeral luncheon at our church. A 25 year old servant of the Lord is gone too soon. I read today of a man who was attacked and killed as he walked home from his neighbor's house to flip his steaks on the grill. A month ago, an 11 year old Akron girl was fatally wounded by a stray bullet as she sat watching television with her family inside the apartment of a family member. Unfortunately, we are bombarded on a daily basis with these unsettling kinds of stories.
Difficult enough to bear on their own, these things are accompanied by a myriad of other ills. I find myself weaving in and out, up and down, through a life littered with mines. Each and every step could potentially bring pain. I look around and see tattered marriages, terminal illness, poverty, misunderstandings, crime, family pressures, lies and other effects of sin being in our world. It can be downright disheartening at times!
On a recent hike, Dara-Grace pointed out the berries of this wildflower, White Baneberry. They are interesting to look at, but poisonous if eaten. You will most likely not die from ingesting them, but you will definitely become ill. While I do feel sickened by all of the pain that surrounds me, I will not center this devotion around that thought. Instead, I will share that this flower is also known as Doll's Eyes, which made me start thinking about seeing.
It is easy to feel alone or discouraged as I trudge through life. Sure, there are blessings along the way, but I often find myself feeling swallowed by the trying circumstances that seem to blow in uninvited. It is then, when the depression wraps itself around me, that I want to ask the Lord, " Do You see what is happening? Do You see how I am trying to be faithful to You in the midst of this? Do You see my pain? Do You SEE... me..., God?"
As I ponder this, I immediately think of the Biblical account of Hagar. Having suffered at the hand of Sarai, she fled into the desert and encountered the angel of the Lord. She shared her woes, was told to return, and was given the promise of many descendents. She came away from this personal encounter with a new name for the LORD: "You are the God who sees me." I love that! I can just imagine how meaningful and precious that was to her.
I am comforted by other verses:
"For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
" But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love," (Psalm 33:18).
No matter what we may be going through, we can be sure that God sees us. He cares and He has a plan. The pain and sorrow sadden Him, too, and it won't always be this way. For now, it has to be enough for me to know this as I wait for the day when He will wipe away every tear.
Lord, thank You for the assurance that You do see me. You know. You are good and I can entrust myself to You. The NKJV of 2 Chronicles 16:9 promises that You will show Yourself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to You. I cling to that as I trust my today and tomorrows to You. In the strong name of Jesus I pray, Amen.