Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fixed in Change

The seasons are changing. I can see it in the changes of the soybean fields from their deep summer green to the almost sunflower yellow that is shown now. Soon, they will look like so many sticks lined up in the fields. The corn’s long leaves of green tapered points are drying into their russet gold. The squirrels seem to be extra busy gathering nuts for the winter, hauling them across the still summer warmed ground to whatever hiding hole they might be using. Somewhere north of here, the eagles are preparing their strength to fly south, marking their seasonal route down the Mississippi that will celebrate the arrival of winter here. Every evening, the constellation of Orion is becoming more and more visible in the sky, arriving earlier to admire as the Big Dipper slips past the horizon sooner.

It seems we all have our opinion on which season is the best. I love the cool crispness of fall and the beautiful colors it brings. Others favor the heat of the summer, the new greenness of spring, or the beautiful snows of winter. Regardless of the favoring of one season over another, they pass in succession. It does not merely remain fall because that is my favorite; just like the summer sun will continue to be farther from the earth, the land will continue to cool into winter. 

As I enjoy this particular season, it is a good reminder to me to seek out the beauty and good in each period of life. There are times of harvest, where what has been so carefully tended is now being enjoyed. There are times of want, when things are lean and difficult decisions are required. There are times when the world is cold. And there are times when you can share the warmth of love with the people around you, basking in the glow of their response. So many more seasons than four pass through our lives, more than the changing of the orbital position of earth. And yet, like the earth, I choose to remain fixed on my center axis, on the Son of God.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lesson from a Cowboy

Visiting an area of unsheltered plains as winter was turning into spring, I looked out and saw land covered in shades of brown. Only a few bits of green were there to be seen; made of low-lying scrubby-looking prairie plants which were nutrient rich for any grazing animals that might be passing through. Wind caught the scents of thawing ground, carrying a fragrance reminiscent of a rich patchouli oil.

The old cowboy got out of his jeep and pointed with a stick to a small flower. Dainty white blooms with yellow centers reminded me of an orchid, leaves stretched out along the ground as if they were attempting to gather warmth from earth and sky. “These are what we call Easter lilies,” he said with a smile. It was one of the first plants to bloom there in the spring. The arrival of these flowers means that spring has come, soon the ground will be warmed and return to being a canvas for thriving new growth. 

One of my favorite parts of Luke, as if I can pick a favorite, is where Jesus is encouraging his disciples. Not overlooking their worries, he instead speaks words of comfort. “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Think of these beautiful flowers, starched white blooms with sunshine yellow centers; each is a delicate work of creation. Though they are not found in the flower market, not highly praised in horticultural circles; they are still lovely designs of the Creator. 

It is all a matter of perspective. I can choose to see a bare land, whipped by the wind. Or, I can look for the first flowers of the spring, and see delicate creations that thrive in such an environment. We choose to look for beauty from the Creator, just as we choose to trust in His plan and see the sovereign touch in the creation of His splendor. 

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Luke 12:27-31

Monday, September 7, 2015

In Need of Living Water

The weather has been very hot lately; and as someone whose personal preference is cool weather, I find cold water important to have around. Sometimes though, even as I keep drinking water, the heat takes its toll. Chilling in the heat, I know my body needs to rehydrate and cool off. It can be easy to take clean water for granted where the turn of a handle gives that in a reliable fashion of varying temperatures. Yet, water is a necessary liquid for our bodies to function. Found in cells, tissues and organs, water allows our body to function properly in varying temperatures and is a large portion of our physical makeup.

Visiting the Des Moines Botanical Garden, I walked to the waterfall at one end of the outdoor gardens. The sun was hot, my hands were hot, there wasn’t a sign saying don’t touch; so my hand went into the waterfall. I was splashed with droplets and felt the cooling impact where the moisture landed. Wonderfully refreshing, it took a measure of self-control to not just remove my tennis shoes and opt for a stroll through the pool in front of the falls.

Water to nourish, to cool, to bring life to arid places; indeed a liquid necessary for life. Then, there is this living water referred to in John 4. Living water, a self-replenishing gift, is offered. The liquid that is necessary for our physical life to continue is found in the well. The living water found in Christ is offered freely, as a gift, drawn from his well spring that never runs dry. It is not the refreshment from the heat of the day that it offers; but healing from the burns of the world.

 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Riding the Currents

I have often wondered what it would feel like to be able to fly without an airplane or extra external gear. To go from standing still to lifting wings and suddenly I am free to ride the unseen air currents. After the initial stage of awkwardly trying out these feathered limbs, there would be a mastery developed to stretch out for lift. Then, think of the heights that are now available, the new places that are visible. 

Still, there is a certain vulnerability in taking to the sky. Gentle breezes can turn into twisting rollicking winds; taking sudden turns, drops and roller-coaster worthy bends. Made to ride the winds, the wings cannot be completely made of inflexible bone. They have smooth feathers to reduce their drag. They have wing structures that allow for lift and thrust to work together; flapping and propelling, gliding and soaring.

The birds are uniquely made to take to the air. They have learned to trust their wings and see the unseen air currents. We are uniquely made to have faith, to see the unseen with confidence. Hebrews 11:1 starts with, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Just as the wings work with confidence, faith is a confident action as well. Not based on paths that are easily seen, but in assurance about what is not seen.