A few years ago, I attended a Bible study entitled In His Garden. Using lessons about seeds, vines, roots, and pruning, the teachers paralleled aspects of gardening with growing into maturity as followers of Jesus. In addition to studying God’s Word, each week also included a “how-to” demonstration by a Master Gardener showing us something simple we could try at home. The most memorable presentation taught us how to create a large potted plant. To do this, you needed three components – a thriller, a filler and a spiller.
The thriller was tall, rising above the rest of the plants in order to catch the eye of the observer. The filler covered the large middle area with beauty and color while the spiller would quickly multiply, trailing over the sides of the container.
Our Christian life could be considered in a similar manner. While our lives do not have to be thrilling, something in us should attract others to Christ. As for our filler component, Ephesians 5:18 instructs us, “Be filled with the Spirit,” and Psalm 1:2-3 tells us we are to fill our minds by meditating on his word. “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he mediates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season.”
Finally, when we love Jesus with all our hearts, our love for Him will multiply and spill over into the lives of those around us. So, my prayer for you today is from Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
When I was a teenager I compared myself to the models featured in magazines. Not surprisingly, I felt inadequate. I just did not look like that. Then in His mercy, Jesus saved me! Over time, I realized it was not important if my stomach was not flat and my make-up nonexistent. Jesus had created me exactly how He wanted me to look – I wasn’t supposed to look like that.
Fast forward 20+ years…..I was feeling discontent and inadequate. This time it wasn’t because of the beautiful women, gourmet meals or gorgeous rooms featured in the magazines. I realized it was Christian autobiographies and newsletters from Christian ministries that were subtly stealing my joy. Unconsciously, I had been comparing myself to others who were teaching Bible study to hundreds or hugging orphans in Africa, and I was thinking, “I don’t look like that!” These were people making a difference eternally for God’s kingdom and glorifying Him. By my standard of comparison, my life did not measure up.
Unfortunately, this lie was harder to identify and dispel than the ones involving worldly standards for beauty or success. With every breath I breathe and every ounce of strength I have, I want to glorify God. BUT God gets to choose how that will happen. So I must die to comparison and submit to His choices for me. I will lean into HIS GRACE to be the one and only person He made me to be – myself.
Daniel and I enjoy playing a game to help him learn the meaning of new words. One of our recent favorites, superfluous, is fun to say over and over. Now, I will use our new word in a sentence. Since experienced writers advocate the importance of blocking off time to write, I tried remove everything superfluous to protect a few hours of my time for this endeavor. After all, to focus on one goal, other priorities have to take a back burner. However, after several interruptions and reading 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 in The Message, my eyes were opened.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, but don’t love, I am nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love I am nothing…So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
After letting those words sink in, God enabled me to view the priorities of my day differently. As much as I enjoy it, writing is a superfluous task for me. It is the daily acts of love that are the essence of my life. Whether calling a friend, encouraging a teacher, writing a note to my sweet husband, or making a snack for Daniel, these small unnoticed acts of kindness are not extras but essentials. Jesus is the cornerstone of my life, but each act of love in His name is a building block.
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. Mother Teresa
One of my most embarrassing stories is humorous only because it ended well. When we lived in Hawaii, Mike deployed for long periods of time, so I sought out new ways to entertain the children. Once day, we headed to the beach and decided to rent a floating bicycle. As I pedaled along buoyed by the huge tires, the view was breathtaking. The trouble arose as our 30 minute rental period concluded, and I turned to pedal back to shore. The trade winds had begun for the afternoon, and no matter how hard I pedaled, I could not get any closer to land. My difficulty was compounded by the fact that neither of the boys with me could reach the pedals. I tried and tried but realized it was futile.
Deciding to swallow my pride, I waved my arms in distress to catch the attention of the lifeguard who quickly swam out and towed us to shore. The reason this was funny and not perilous was that we were only about 50 yards from the beach, and the water was probably less than five feet deep. In fact, I could have walked back on the sand bar. Since the second boy was my neighbor’s son, it seemed wiser to call for help instead of us all jumping overboard. As she watched this unfold, the boy’s mom had considered swimming in herself to pull us out, but the lifeguard beat her to it.
As we were being towed in, it was reassuring to hear that this happens quite frequently. Not wanting to repeat my folly, I used the experience to gain a couple of spiritual insights.
*Don’t try to pedal through life alone.
*When you realize you cannot make it own your own strength, don’t delay, call the Lifeguard!
In case you were wondering what an aqua cycle looks like, here is one from google images…..
Since the Fall, the world has been filled with anguish and despair. Unlike the criticism and negativity we gravitate toward to today, the psalmist offered a lament to the Lord.
Lament is an expression of grief, pouring out one’s heart to God. Lament shows that suffering and hope and can occur simultaneously and that unanswered questions and trust in God can exist in harmony.
In a psalm of lament, a spiritual reset occurs. Life is hard, but God is greater. When the psalm begins, problems loom large, but the final declaration of God’s character overshadows every problem and trial.
Let’s recover the lost art of lament. My lament below springboards from Psalm 130.
Drowning in the depths, I cry out to you, O Lord
for another breath of your grace.
Surely, I would have faded from life
Alienated from the Father
If you had not shed your blood to gain access to the throne of grace.
There your mercy sustains me.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits.
My soul longs for the Lord more than the frozen seed longs for the spring.
My soul longs for the Lord more than the bride longs for her bridegroom.
In your promises, I put my hope
For you, my Lord, can be trusted.
Your love and faithfulness are unfailing.