Wednesday, August 11, 2010
What do the flowers tell us?
Standing out in a garden in 100° weather, you might be caused to wonder – flowers or weeds... who decided and are they worth all the trouble? The only thing I can figure is that we call them flowers because they require work from us to grow and we call them weeds because they grow on their own without any help (except God). Now some of you might think "who cares?" because gardening is not your thing. And some of you shrug your shoulders because these things come and go; their beauty is feeling. Why do we waste our time on them?
Could not God say the same of us? We come and we go. Our beauty fades. We are a lot of work to this Gardener in whose garden we grow. We might not be sure if the flowers are worth it all – OR we are worth it – but God does not equivocate. His Son is the clearly spoken YES of grace – even to us fleeting and flawed creatures. And there is much more to learn from the flowers of the field. Today we explore what the flowers tell us of God and His grace.
Scripture is clear. God clothes the fields, flowers, trees, and, yes, even the weeds. He clothes them and gives them their beauty and He gives them their life. From this we learn something of the God whose grace clothes us in baptism, the God who gives us our beauty and nobility, and from whom we receive the life that crowns this moment and the eternal life that is forever.
What DO the flowers tell us? God knows their needs and supplies them all they need. It is their glory to live solely dependent upon His grace for every moment of every day that they live – even for the time of their life hidden in the ground when the seed or bulb lies seemingly dead until God's spring awakens them.
We are the only ones of God’s creation whose minds think, who choose what we will work and do, and whose wills define what is important to us. Yet these gifts have not given us any comfort at all. They have only led us further from the simple peace, joy and trust exemplified in these flowers of the field. Instead we are left only with the seeds of our anxiety and the terrors of our fears. Oh, that we could live to fully and utterly dependent upon God’s grace as do these flowers of the field!
What DO the flowers of the field tell us? God declares them beautiful – they do not claim beauty for themselves. Their worth and value are not decided by their own wills and desires and neither do they look inward for affirmation of who they are or the value of their lives. They stretch toward the sun and their worth and value and glory are in the sun's light. Surely I do not need to explain this to you. It says something when our declaration of beauty or worth lies apart from God and even in conflict with His Word. It says something of us when we seek not the light of God's Son but our own light or when our self-worth and value is shaped by something other than the light of Christ, who died that we might live and rose that we might live forever.
What DO the flowers tell us? God watches over their coming and going, now and always. They are never alone, if their lives are lived out under the watchful and loving vision of the Father in heaven who made them and keeps them still. What does it say of us when we let our fears trample over our hope, when we look around us instead of to the Lord, or when we seek the approval and care of others instead of the God whose watchful eye and loving care come to us fully in Christ our Lord.
Think of the second lesson we heard today and its description of Abraham. He received a promise of offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky or the sand on the shore. He never saw it. He only lived to see one son, Isaac. But it was enough. Even though he did not receive all that was promised, the promise was enough for him.
Now who is more valuable? Does God care for the flowers of the field more than He cares for YOU? What DO we see in the flowers? Trust in the Lord for what you see AND for what you do not see. Let faith be your eyes when the ones in your head say NO. God has said YES in Christ so that our fears may not consume us nor our sins condemn us.
Let the Lord declare you beautiful and let the Lord determine you worthy and let the Lord decide what your value is. Then accept His declaration in Christ and live out your life accordingly. Live not as the people you are but as those whom God has declared you to be. Live a life worthy of this grace and love, mercy and blessing.
Live in the light of Christ, in the glorious knowledge of what His death and resurrection have accomplished. Live in the light of Christ where your frailty does not condemn you and your sins are forgiven, where your weakness does not hinder you and God's strength and sufficient grace are your clothing even to eternal life.
Live out your days and your nights knowing that your coming and going is in His hand. Remember what we say to the children brought to the font for baptism? The Lord bless your coming and your going, from this time forth and forevermore. We might add, spend the rest of your live believing in this promise and the blessing of its comfort will not be far from you in trouble.
I don’t know who said this is a flower and this is a weed? It is all in the eye of the beholder. If flowers are the ones that cause you trouble and weeds grow and flourish without any effort, but God loves them all, then even as a weed we can know God’s sufficient grace and loving care. It matters not what the world labels us, but what matters is what God has declared us to be in Christ. We come and go and the Lord's grace in Christ is our only hope and security. The cross is the verdict of God about our worth – apparently we are worth to God the price of Christ’s blood – so in all your wonderings, worries, anxieties and fears, let this be your peace. God has declared you worthy through His Son.
What can you learn from the flowers? When you look around for a sign that you are important or worthy or beautiful or of value, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow and the grace of the Lord that surrounds their brief, momentary existence. And then look up to the cross where God has not only declared us forgiven and new but worthy and of the greatest value to Him. The message of grace is all around you – from the flowers and weeds that come and go to the cross that is eternal. Do not mistake their message. In different ways they speak the common language of grace.
But we do not have merely the lilies of the field as our teachers. We have the cross, where God has made is as clear as blood that He loves YOU. That John 3:16 is not just words, but truly God so loved YOU that He gave His only begotten Son for YOU that YOU who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This is most certainly true. Amen