My hero of the Fall is the Spider Lilly. They shoot up from the ground, bursting forth with color and life when everything else is drying up and hiding from the coming winter. As I get older, I notice a tendency to want to sink in my cocoon and hide from the world at times. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be like the Spider Lily, bursting out with life, being a blessing to others even as winter approaches. While the tree leaves are turning their muted colors of drying death, the Spider Lily explodes with the vibrant color of life. He is not afraid of the coming cold. With his fiery red voice he simply tells Winter, “Not yet. Life is still here!”. And what a beautiful life it is, made all the more special because of the time of its blooming.
I’m sitting on a plane, waiting on a guy to finish making a repair, so we can take off. He’s “fixing” the problem with . . . tape. It doesn’t even look like duct tape. It looks more like packing tape. Is it just me, or would it make you nervous to fly on a plane that was just repaired with packing tape?
For some strange reason, it reminds me of the pregnancy test I saw for sale at the Dollar Store. I don’t trust million dollar airliner repairs done with packing tape any more than I would a pregnancy test I bought at the Dollar Store.
Some things just don’t fit well in the philosophy of the-cheaper-the-better. I want my doctor to be the one people pay a lot to get. I want my airline mechanic to use the best, not the quickest or cheapest method to repair the plane, and if my girl feels she needs to take a pregnancy test, I certainly want her to pay more than a dollar for it.
Some things are too important to take the easiest or cheapest route. I can’t tell you how to know what those things are, but I can tell you to be on the look out for them.
“Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NET http://bible.com/107/mat.7.13-14.NET
If you have ever read the Bible through from cover to cover, you will find there are parts that are boring. If you disagree with me, you either have not read the whole Bible, or you are dishonest with yourself. Parts of it are boring. You know it.
The parts in particular that I am thinking of today are the long lists of names. A list of “begats” going all the way back from Jesus to Adam. Are you kidding me? What about the lists in Nehemiah of all the people that worked on rebuilding the city. Lists of carpentars, stone masons, priests, musicians . . . the list goes on and on. Maybe somebody at some point wanted to know all this stsuff, but why is it in God’s Holy Word? Why is it so important that we have to read it? Why couldn’t it just be in some ancient filing cabinet at the Bethlehem county court house?
I’ll tell you why. Because most of us will never be an Abraham, Moses, Peter or Paul. Most of us will just be like one of the names on that list. The carpenters and plumbers, computer programers, stay-at-home moms, check-out clerks, bus drivers and cooks. We are the people who do our normal jobs every day for the glory of God. God wants us to know that we’re an important part of His story. And every one of us is an important name on His list.
I’m sitting in the middle seat of a B757, enduring a 4.5 hour flight from San Francisco to Atlanta. Somewhere one or two rows back from my luxurious accommodations in seat 40E, a young child has been crying or whining for most of the trip. I can relate.
The kid is uncomfortable, tired, board, and he doesn’t understand what is going on. The parents try to console the child. Daddy holds him tight. He provides food and drink. A blanket. Tries to entertain at times. Other times, he is stern, letting the child know he needs to quit whining and crying. Still he screams and complains, spouting a high pitched call to “Daddy” then screaming unintelligible baby objections for all the world to hear. It doesn’t solve his situation. It only makes him and those around him more miserable.
Eventually, our 4.5 hour trial will be over and things will be good again. I’ll get out of my cramped middle seat and the young child will be back home with his toys. The kid will stop crying for awhile and the Father will smile. He knows His child does not understand. He foresees the day when His child grows up and learns to endure the trials with patience and grace. But for now He loves him anyway. And works to get him ready for the next middle seat.
I saw a car with teeth. Well, not really teeth. Just the semblance of teeth. They weren’t real teeth and they didn’t work like teeth, but they looked like teeth. I took a picture. Now, when you look at the picture, you can see a car with teeth. Well, not really. You really see a picture of a car with a semblance of human teeth. To see an actual car with real teeth would be very inriguing, and I guess, quite rare.
I want to be a real Christian. Not a picture of a Christian containing some semblance of a Christ-like attribute. A real Christian, with teeth.
The Lord will defend me.
My God will weave his righteous tapestry in the threads of my life.
When I feel lost and uncertain of my way, I know my God is still guiding my steps.
God, you are my aim. My goal. My purpose.
Difficulties will come, but I need not fear or dread them.
My trials are but opportunities to see You at work; to feel Your mighty hand guiding me, leading me, pulling me in to Your loving embrace.
I praise You, my Lord and my God, creator of all.
The One who made me.
The One who loves me.
The One who sustains me.
The One who holds me tight, and will not let me go.
While on a recent hike, I saw an old tree clinging to a cliff. Really it was the remains of a tree, since it had obviously died some time ago. At first I was inspired by the beauty, then I thought about the fact that it was just the remains of a dead tree. The issue wasn’t really the tree, it was the location. Had the tree lived and died somewhere else, leaving such a scrawny carcass of a tree, it would have been underwhelming for sure.
The real splendor of this little tree was not the beauty of its withered remains, but the testimony of those lifeless crooked limbs. A weathered wooden testament of a life lived in a difficult place. A life lived where cold winds whipped over a rugged landscape. A life lived where every ounce of growth had to be carefully rationed between leaves reaching for the sun and roots clinging to any small crack or crevice in the rock.
If this dead tree had been somewhere in the middle of the forest, I would most likely have never noticed it, but having grown in the rugged, difficult place, it left a legacy of beauty. The Bible says that trials make us better people. I’m sure it’s true, even though if given the choice, I would prefer not to grow on the difficult, rocky cliff.
I saw a sign yesterday that was advertising for a divorce lawyer. It promised a quick and easy divorce with a headline promising to help “Undo I do.” At first I noticed the clever phrase, then I considered if it was even possible for a divorce to be quick and easy. I think not. And the more I thought about it, I realized it’s not even possible to undo “I do.”
You can’t undo a promise. You can’t unsay it. You can pretend it never happened or you can say you didn’t mean it, but you can’t unpromise it. Once you make a promise, there are only two real possibilities. You can either keep it, or break it.
Strange as it may seem, that’s still one more option than God has.
A few nights ago I went outside for a walk and Sam followed me out to look at the stars. When he looked up and saw that the clouds had different plans, he grumbled. “Why is it when I don’t want to look at the stars, they are shining bright, and every time I DO want to look at the stars, they are not out?” He turned and marched back in the house, mad at a universe that was obviously conspiring against him.
As I continued my walk, I thought about Sam’s problem and wondered how the stars might answer his indictment. I suppose they might very well say, “Why is it, Sam, that every time we go to the trouble to shine, you never even come outside and look up?” Sam’s problem, I thought, was that he expects the universe to conform to his desires instead of just enjoying the blessings whenever and wherever they are provided.
The thing is, it’s not really just Sam’s problem. It’s my problem too. It’s a problem we all have. We spend our lives complaining when the stars don’t shine on us. Maybe instead we should be looking up expectantly every chance we get, and praising God for every twinkle.