One of the magical aspects of sunflowers is how they move through the day to always face the sun.
Like other plants, they depend on light to make their food but unlike others, they seem intent on thanking the source.
I am always encouraged when I pass a patch of sunflowers standing stalwart, saluting in unison the life-giving rays. They remind me that I am just as dependent as they are.
I can’t draw breath without the light and life of Christ in me.
But I forget that sometimes.
Clouds of sadness and despair obscure my vision and I’m tempted to turn away. Life gets hard and I wonder why it has to be like that. Responsibility grows heavy and I can’t lift my head.
So I lose sight of the Son-who He is, what He’s done and how He continues to sustain me even when I can neither see it or feel it.
It’s just then I need to turn toward Him.
It’s that very moment I require extra grace to look up (which He supplies) and extra faith (which He endows) to see clearly.
When I do, He always renews my strength.
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you been listening? Yahweh is the one and only everlasting God, the Creator of all you can see and imagine! He never gets weary or worn out. His intelligence is unlimited; he is never puzzled over what to do! He empowers the feeble and infuses the powerless with increasing strength. Even young people faint and get exhausted; athletic ones may stumble and fall. But those who wait for Yahweh’s grace will experience divine strength. They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles, run their race without growing weary, and walk through life without giving up.”
I do not for one minute believe that the Lord I love inflicted this pain on me for the purpose of “teaching me something”.
But I absolutely, positively believe that He can use it (and HAS used it) to make me more compassionate, kinder and more grace-filled than I was before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
Still, “becoming” is painful and requires that I submit to the hand of the Potter.
Grieving is not passive. Suffering isn’t something that happens to you and then you ride a wave of emotions until the circumstances quell. Suffering is like school, and grieving is how we accomplish the coursework. It’s not the kind of education anyone signs up for. But, when devastation enters our lives, we are automatically enrolled into the seminar on suffering. And, just as we would prepare for any class, we must download the syllabus and begin to faithfully complete the assignments.
Ann Maree Goudzwaard
This is truly insightful.
I think that’s what makes the difference between finding a meaningful way to live in the “after” or not.
Of course, at first NO ONE is keen to “download the syllabus”.
Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, 3 for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.
James 1:2-4 TLB
So for those of you fresher on this journey, don’t be dismayed or discouraged!
But at some point, what I (and others) refer to as “grief work” must be done.
In the meantime,I pray that the God of all hope fills you with His grace and strength and helps you hold onto hope-even on the days you feel overwhelmed and abandoned.
Yes, I live on the other side of the Resurrection-I know the end of the disciples’ vigil-I am convinced of the empty tomb, the ascended Lord and my Great High Priest’s intercession at the right hand of the Father.
But what I long for I cannot hold. What I hope for I cannot touch. What I know to be true I cannot see.
I live in the space between “it looks like everything has gone horribly wrong” and “Hallelujah!”.
It is painful. It is hard.
And it will last for a lifetime, not just a few days.
There are some congregations that still practice “foot washing” in remembrance of Jesus’ humble service to His disciples.
It’s a beautiful tradition but hardly captures the reality of what it was like to wipe dust, dirt and dung from the feet of (probably) sweaty men with unkempt toenails and calloused soles.
Before the cross, before that ultimate defining act of sacrifice and love which required His willing death, Jesus showed us how to LIVE. He could have given a lecture on love and humble service but He didn’t.
He chose the lowliest task to demonstrate that love is DOING something. It’s doing whatever needs to be done for whoever God places in your path.
I’m often guilty of thinking this task or that task is beneath me- hoping someone else will do it and I won’t have to. I need to be reminded often that’s simply not true.
Today is the day on the church calendar when we pause and reflect on the Last Supper, and the last words of Jesus to His disciples.
A year’s worth of sermons is contained in John 13-17 but this week I have been drawn to just one verse:
[Jesus said] “Now I am giving you a new command—love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how all men will know that you are my disciples, because you have such love for one another.”