Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Splendor of the Earth

"Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27

We returned home from a week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where we enjoyed the change of scenery. We traded the bleak, cold rains of New England spring for the cool, sunny beaches of mid Atlantic islands. The change was welcomed and the adventures of everything new was thoroughly enjoyed, but by the end of the week we were ready to return to the familiar.

After twelve hours of driving in drizzle and cold winds, I wondered if we should have stayed. But, as I stepped out of the truck, welcomed by the smells of home, I knew I was in the right place.

I putzed around the house for a few minutes when a tall, slender package leaning against the living room sofa caught my eye. I read the return address label and instantly I worried about its fragile contents. Despite the yellow warning label that reassured me I had three weeks before I needed to be concerned, I doubted the survival of my delicate blueberry bushes inside.

Unable to feel the top branches, I carefully sliced open the top of the envelope. I breathed a sigh of relief when tall, fragile branches peeked through, revealing baby white buds and the promise of my favorite summer berries. I could hardly wait to plant those next to my white picket fence.

With the sun shining again the next day, my husband and I caught the planting bug. We dug into the freshly watered soil and laid those delicate bushes in just the right spot. We broke open our seed germinating kits, our packages of vegetable seeds and planted those babies with care making sure they were given the best chance to grow.

We've got great dreams of harvesting some luscious fruits and vegetables this summer and fall. But, when it comes down to it, nothing depends on us except for the sowing of seeds, the transplanting into fertile soil and the pulling of weeds. The rest is up to God, really; to provide the sun, the rain, the growth.

A beautiful garden is truly breath-taking to me, whether flowers or vegetables. It amazes me how from a tiny seed that looks like nothing but a pebble or a grain of sand, amazing beauty and deliciousness emerges in just a short time. If God takes such care to pack all that into a tiny seed of fruit, how much more is He concerned for the promise of beauty packed inside each one of us?

"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you?" Luke 12:28

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Struggling With Prayer

"In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8:26

I don't know how to pray or what to pray for. I look at my loved one who has suffered so much this winter and I'm speechless. Is it right to pray for healing when living means only to exist in the memories of what has passed? Is it right to ask God to bring new life into one that has already lived a good many years? We were created to live forever, I'll agree, but not forever in a broken, earthly body, on this planet in this present time.

So, when I sit to pray for this sickly loved one, I seldom find the words. On occasion when I do find words, I struggle with the guilt of asking for their graceful departure from this world. To sit and watch someone you love gasp for air, sleep their days away or claim no recollection of the conversation they were having with you just a moment ago makes me realize the cruelty of life.

Finally, I confided with a wise and godly woman, known for her gift of intercessory prayer and healing, about my struggle with prayer. While she agrees that God is in the business of healing, the will of the suffering person must align with the will to live in order for healing to come. If they no longer wish to live, then our prayers for healing are for naught. Instead, pray for God to ease their suffering quickly. It is no use to pray for healing if someone doesn't desire restoration or a prolonged life. There does come a time in all our lives when we will tire of living.

It's still not easy to pray for the suffering or to watch the suffering. But now, when I do pray, I pray for God's grace to ease the pain, to shorten the suffering; wisdom for the living and strength to those who will remain.

"I urge you brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me." Romans 15:30

"And I pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord's people." Ephesians 6:18