My Poor Little Zinnias!

zinniasI decided to start zinnias from seed this year. Yesterday, I transplanted them.  I was amazed at the length of their little roots! They had sent them down as far as their shallow soil would allow them to go and then made a sharp right and started crawling along the bottom of the tray! So, I scooped them out and transplanted them into their own little pots; and this is how they look this morning…

Poor little fellas! I wonder if this is how the disciples felt this morning! It’s Saturday—the wonderful once-a-year Passover celebration culminates today! They should be excited, but you see, Jesus had uprooted them out of their comfortable, several millennia of traditions, and they didn’t even know it until this past week. Even though He told them what was going to happen, their eyes and ears and hearts were blinded to understanding His purpose.

Had my little zinnias known what was coming, they might have hunkered down and said, “No! We’re fine here! We’re not moving.” But if they could have done that, they would have eventually died. They would never have produced any flowers. They would have looked pathetic.

Do you ever feel like that?  God has pulled you up by the roots out of your comfy, cozy spot and put you into unfamiliar surroundings.  They seem harsh and unforgiving. You just want to lie down and die!  But wait! There’s something nice about this new place. Mmmm! My toesies have so much room!  I can stretch way down! And this new soil is really nice. I think I’ll just reach my little leaves towards the sun and GROW!  I’m so glad this happened!

Can we say, “I’m so glad this happened,” when life falls apart?  Better yet, can we say, “I’m so glad God did this?”

I would say most of us do not remember what happened on November 5th, 2017. If I mention Sutherland Springs, Texas, some of us might recall the infamous event. That day, 26 people who went to church to worship God, praising His name with their families and friends. But God had other plans.

How do we cope with something like that?  How do we grow through what would seem to be a dry and barren land? Here are some thoughts:

  1. We fall back on what we know: God is ALWAYS good. This step is so foundational to any further steps we take. Anything less will lead us down the wrong path. “ And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day” ( Deuteronomy 6:24).
  2. We draw closer to God and learn of Him. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Titus, James, Peter… these men experienced firsthand the almighty power of God! They have so much to tell us, and since it is really God’s Word and not theirs, it is a well so deep, it will never run dry! ” Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
  3. We gather strength from others: This is why a network of believers is so important. (Recommended: flesh and blood. Social media is great but it can’t give hugs!) We go to the huddle known as church and we learn and weep and pray, drawing strength from each other. “…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
  4. We take one step at a time. One of my favorite pictures is of the Guardian Angel,41 portraying an angel watching over two small children while they cross a torrential stream via a very rickety bridge. Just like those children, we walk “circumspectly,” testing each toehold to be sure it will hold, avoiding the pitfalls of pity, anger, bitterness, doubts, fears… the list is endless! (BTW, those are all “fiery darts” and you know who is hurling them!)

The apostles would never be the same. In fact, this dark, distressing week was only the beginning. It would pale in comparison to the testings and trials that were coming their way. BUT, Sunday made all the difference!  Jesus’ resurrection changed them, forged them into great heroes of the faith! Oh, to think that our trials as well are designed to kill us… so that we too can truly live!

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

 

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Please Push Me Off This Ladder, Lord

Would anyone in their right mind pray a prayer like that?  I don’t think so.

Yes, it’s been one year since my husband’s fall.  For those of you who have joined me since that time—and I am overwhelmed by that number—here’s a recap of the accident:

During the renovation of our church gym, my husband, Tom, was standing backwards on a ladder and reaching to pull a nail out from the ceiling. The ladder slipped, taking him sixteen feet to the cement floor below.  He crushed his heel and broke his hip.  Now, he sports all sorts of hardware: two rods, cabling and screws in his leg, and thirteen screws and a plate in his foot.

It’s been a long and, at times, weary road.  As we look back, it’s amazing to see what the Lord has done in the past year!  Perhaps the greatest blessing from it all is the love which was poured out on our lives: cards, gifts, meals, acts of kindness.  When a pastor can’t preach, who preaches?  Who turns out the lights, turns on the heat, cuts the grass?  Who visits the sick?  There are so many little jobs that a pastor often does—especially when he lives right next to the church—that are done without notice, until they are not done!  Watching our people rally behind him brought joy unspeakable!

Trials—we certainly do not ask for them, but it is good to understand that they do not happen without God’s attention.  They don’t hit us while He’s not looking, because He sees all!  And so, the oft-asked question is:

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

But let patience have its perfect work,

that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1: 2

It is true that we do not ask for trials, but we do ask for patience.  We do want to be “complete” or approved of God.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season,

if need be,

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith,

 being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire,

might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:6,7

Peter knew, James knew, I would say the majority of the first century Christians knew that the trials which plagued their lives also empowered them to be the salt and light that they needed to be in a totally godless world.  (And if you are looking for inspiration, try reading Fox’s Book of Martyrs—just a buck on Amazon for a Kindle!)

Here we are, in another godless age, perhaps on the brink of facing the worst persecution Satan has yet to dish out; how will we face the trials?  Peter encourages us to allow them to grow our faith and ultimately bring praise and honor and glory to our Lord. That may be easier said than done, but I was recently reminded in a sermon, that with every trial a battle rages:  Satan wants to destroy us and our testimony, and God wants to grow us and make life more precious!

Tom now walks with a limp.  Pain is a frequent reminder of his year-old trial, but overall we praise God for allowing him to heal and to live!  To God be the glory!