1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
Early spring weather in the Nantahala Mountains of North Carolina is unpredictable at best. It is a warm, balmy day when my husband, Danny, and I arrive at the cabin in which we will spend the week. The daffodils planted nearby are past their peak, but a lone tulip bravely blossoms, spreading its velvety petals wide to embrace the sunshine.
The next morning, the temperatures plunge, and stay cold to chilly for the remainder of our vacation. Howling gusts of wind and the occasional rain shower encourage us to hunker down in the comfort of our cabin and admire our view behind the protection of plate glass windows.
I notice that the tulip responds in kind. It retracts its showy petals, closes itself into a tight, insular bud as if it had never bloomed at all. Instinctively, the tulip knows how to protect itself from inclement weather so that it will be able to blossom again once conditions improve.
In his sermon this past Sunday, Pastor Wallace illustrates what Peter is warning against in the scripture cited above. He describes arriving years ago at a small church he is to serve and asking the lay leader how he perceives the spiritual temperature of the congregation.
"I'll show you," he tells Wallace, and leads him to the doors of the narthex. Opening one, he plants a foot outside the church and the other inside it.
Wallace is confused. "I don't get it," he admits. "What are you telling me?"
The lay leader answers, "They have one foot in the church in case it's the truth, and the other foot in the world just in case it's not."
Luke-warm. Not on fire for the Lord. Hanging onto the evil desires they had when living in ignorance. Wallace is crestfallen. This is a tiny, but mature congregation; few are below the age of sixty. Wallace wonders how, after all those years as Christians, they cannot bring themselves to fully trust in God, cannot will themselves to be holy for Him because He is holy for them.
Wallace reminds us that the things of this world tug mightily at us, seeking to distract us from our focus on Jesus. We must, as Peter admonishes, keep our minds alert and sober, setting our hope fully on God's grace. When we are "all in" for Him, the storms and tempests with which the world threatens us cannot shake us loose from His firm foundation.
We can, like the tulip, hide our vulnerabilities in the safety and comfort of our Father's arms, believing with all our hearts that He will shield and protect us.
Secure in the knowledge that He will let us know when it's safe to bloom again.
Is your hope set on the grace of God?
Prayer: Father, help us to be Your obedient children, setting our hope on the grace You give us through Christ Jesus, and being holy in all we do. Defend us from the perils of this world, and let us grow and blossom in our faith and trust in You. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.