Unconventional

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

I walked toward my garden as a flock of birds shot into the sky. I hurried to find out what they were doing and my heart sank as I saw my new cantaloupe plants ravaged by sharp beaks.

My first reaction was to go to the store and buy fencing wire or screens to protect the plants. Only problem was my husband was out of town for a week and my daughter was very sick, so leaving was out of the question. On the other hand, if I allowed the plants to go unprotected-even one more day-they would certainly die. I stood in the hot sun gazing around my yard trying to work out a solution.

Finally, my eyes rested on the collapsible wire dog crate on the porch. I got to work breaking the cage down and hauling it to my garden. It was only big enough to cover the cantaloupe so I used some other yard items, plus an old baby gate, to surround the rest of the melon plants.

The next day the vines had already begun growing new leaves. I didn’t have to buy anything (yet) and I successfully protected the young plants, though my method was certainly unconventional. Because I invested so much time and money cultivating my garden, I was highly motivated to do whatever it took to protect it.

My spiritual garden is far more important than my physical garden, and I must do whatever is necessary to protect it from harm. Often that means using unconventional methods scoffed at by the world (and sometimes other Christians). Maybe I won’t eat certain foods, watch certain movies, read certain books, or spend money on certain items. Following an unconventional Jesus means making unconventional choices.

“Don’t copy the customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.” Romans 12:2 (TLB) (emphasis mine)

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Promises in the Rain

“Mommy, mommy!” Samantha raced into my bathroom where I was comfortably relaxing in the shower.

“What is it?” I poked my head out thinking someone or something was on fire.

“Mommy, it’s raining!”

“Ohhhhh….” was the resignated realization of a promise I had made to her the previous weekend. The weather report had predicted rain, and she had begged me to let her play in the mud puddles. I agreed. Then the clouds opened up and it didn’t rain. I had succesfully dodged that bullet, until today.

“Fantastic,” I thought, “I have so many things to do today, and standing in the pouring rain while my 4 year old jumps in the mud isn’t on my list.”

You need to honor your promise.

Sigh. “Ok, Lord, I will honor my promise.”

I got out of the shower and ready to stand in the rain. It occured to me I should bring my camera and record the one time I agreed to let my little girl splash in the mud. Samantha was in her pajamas and flip-flops and we set out. I was immediately overwhelmed by the beauty of my surroundings. The pouring rain, the trees bending under the wind, the smells of fresh moisture, and even my daughter covered in mud. It was like viewing a movie in 3D for the first time, everything came alive to my senses.

rain

I lifted my camera and began snapping pictures, thankful for the marvelous beauty God was showering despite my reluctant obedience.

puddles

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Samantha, discovering her dirty feet, decided two hops was enough and wanted a shower.

muddy flip flops

I took that time to catalogue the beautiful treasures God had given me through my camera lens. If I hadn’t obeyed the Spirit’s prompting, I would have missed out on a glorious experience; an opportunity for reflection, praise, worship and teaching my daughter that she can trust me to follow through on my promises.

fresh pathway

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:11-12

I learned a valuable lesson this morning. I need to slow down and take time to reflect on the treasures around me:

birds nesting,

birds nesting

flowers resting,

flowers resting

trees growing,

trees growing

and children playing.

muddy Samantha

There’s more to my world then finishing the next project, making the next phone call, or cooking another meal. I need to remember God’s faithfulness and love and delight in his handiwork and maybe the day won’t seem so hectic after all. Sometimes I just need to throw that “list” in the wind and dance in the rain.

“It is good to praise the Lord.” Psalm 92:1

pink flowers

Tolerate

“You established the earth and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.” Psalm 119:90b-91-NIV

Tolerate

Traffic lights; long
lines; rude people; boring sermons; elevator music; gas prices; work.

Things we tolerate. Why do we tolerate these
things? I suppose it’s because we have to, right? If we want to get where we’re
going we must wait at those traffic lights; if we want to eat we must wait in
those long, slow lines at the grocery store. (Don’t you just love how they only
have one cashier to work when they
have fifteen registers?! Sigh…I digress). We have bills to pay so we tolerate
working all of our lives, but praise Jesus if you are blessed to have a job you
actually love! And what of those boring sermons? Well, your poor pastor can’t
bring down the fire every Sunday,
give him a break! It’s called reality.

The Bible mentions
tolerate a little differently. It calls it “enduring”. Psalm 119:90 says the
earth endures. Wait a minute, the earth is tolerating.
What is the earth tolerating exactly?

Come with me to an
open field on a grassy hilltop. The breeze is cool, the sun is shining. We see
tall flowers blowing against the bright blue sky line. Glorious. Gradually a
thud begins, then louder it comes until “clomp clomp clomp,” that gorgeous
yellow bloom blowing in the breeze has been snuffed out, cut short by the stomp
of muddy boots breaking through our scene in a hurry to get to the lake beyond
the hill.

Bummer.

Humans, we must be a
real treat to tolerate at times.

We are told there
will be a new heaven and a new earth one day (Revelation 21). Life as God
intended, in total perfection. Until then the earth endures (us, perhaps) and
it serves God under the laws he has given: laws of gravity and the laws of
motion. The seasons we are given come and go due to the motion of space, the
rotation of the moon and sun and the earth. It all works in harmony; all of
creation follows perfectly ordered laws laid out by the Creator. The smallest
of flowers bends its will to the sovereign God of the universe while man,
created in the image of God himself, often shakes his fist at the Creator and
questions and doubts at the very minimum.  It’s no wonder God doesn’t merely tolerate us!
But NO! That would go against his very nature of holiness! Instead God loves us
so much he not only gave us the biggest sacrifice of all in His son Jesus, but
he also threw the icing on the cake with giving us all of nature to marvel at
and enjoy!

If the earth and
nature itself endures and serves God willfully, we would do well to look on and
learn from the example given. Have you ever heard a flower complain as its
petals are picked off by a person humming “He loves me, he loves me not?” Have
you ever heard a rain drop whimper as it splatters across the windshield of a
racing car? Have you ever heard a blade of grass rage over getting trampled
under the foot of a workman’s boot?

Are we serving God
with our whole hearts or merely
tolerating his words as ideas in our lives?

He sees our true
heart.

Prayer

I praise you, Jesus. As my
Creator I am thankful for your generosity. You have given all of nature for my
pleasure and I often take it for granted. The next time I see your creations may
I be motivated to serve you with all my heart.