Tuesday, April 12, 2016

When It's Safe to Bloom Again


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.

11 comments:

  1. Great illustration your pastor gave Martha. I'm sure he has found it to be true even today, maybe even more. I know I also struggle from time to time with some lukewarmness. that is when God often sends a storm to wake me up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, I think we all fall prey to the pressure from the world from time to time. It's all a part of being human. But we should always remember to whom we are to turn when we feel ourselves slip-sliding away.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  2. Martha, the illustration your pastor used is amazing and to the point. Sadly, it's true of many churches--lukewarmness seems to prevail--we seem to "forget" what Jesus said about lukewarmness to the church in Revelation. Yes, at times, I struggle with lukewarmness. My prayer is that I'll be so on fire for the Lord that people will come to watch me burn! (I think John Wesley said something like that!)

    Love and blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Kim, Wallace's interpretation really hit home for me. He is an amazing storyteller, able to weave scripture so well into everyday events. Hate to think that he is retiring in June. :(
      May we all be on fire for the Lord, burning brightly with His love!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  3. wow what a good point - one foot in and one out. amazing image. Love it that you learned lessons on your vacation too. God is always teaching isn't he?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God never stops teaching us, Jean, if our eyes and hearts are open. Glad you liked the image here!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  4. Hi Martha! Welcome back my friend! I'm sorry you had some challenging weather, but you learned a lot from that chilled tulip...

    It's very hard to keep up our spirits in a culture that tries to quash it at every turn. How fortunate we are to have each other in the blogging community! There are so many very faithful, encouraging writers to pick us up when we are flagging. I like the image of 'one foot in and one foot out' of the church. That's brilliant. God help us all to jump right into His arms and stay there!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like you, Ceil, I do get lots of encouragement from reading the blogs of other Christian writers. Such an inspiration always and a balm for the troubled soul.
      Glad you liked the image of one foot in and one foot out - happens to too many! Yes, let's jump into God's arms and stay there. :)
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  5. Inspired by your words Martha. I don't know how spirited churches are but I'm trying to become more faithful and spirited myself daily. Also, it's not just my faith but also practicing the faith in daily life, interaction with others and how i show up in the world I interact with :)

    ReplyDelete

My Prayer Corner

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Do you have...