Saturday, October 24, 2015

Splendor...


I am re-posting this blog from 2015, because I am feeling very leaf-like lately. Ever in need of more color, more brush strokes from the Master painter, hungry for continued growth and hoping to one day be flaming orange with a touch of red!

Splendor

  Bright red, flaming orange, and golden yellow trees on either side of the road arched like a glorious tunnel of color for me to travel through on my way to church. I was so caught up in the splendor of their colors that I told God, "Your artwork is amazing! Thank you for making the leaves turn such beautiful colors!" That's when He replied, "They look the most beautiful right before they die." Hmmm...I had never noticed that before, but I have not stopped thinking of it since.

     I've done some research in recent days. My whole life I was under the impression that the leaves actually change their colors. What I've learned since is that they have really been those vibrant colors all along! According to the website Answersingenesis.org, "As the plant withers, it may produce vibrant colors because, as a leaf ceases to function, the chlorophyll degrades, revealing the colors of previously hidden pigments."  Those vibrant colors were once all previously hidden pigments. This means that they were a part of the leaf all along, they were just hidden underneath the green color.  Once fall arrives and they peak in a magnificent display of color, we are finally able to see the beauty that was underneath all along! After they peak, they die and are no more. This reminds me of some people that I know.

     I've noticed that as people age they often become more beautiful. In fact, some of the most beautiful, the most vibrant people I know...are in their seventies and eighties. You may laugh at this, but bear with me a minute. People are like leaves. We spend most of our lives looking like your basic green leaf. There doesn't appear to be anything special really going on. Yet all the while, God is artfully painting pigments of color underneath our outer layer....if we let Him. Every time we allow Him to have His way in our lives we gain a new pigment. Every time we allow a trial He sees us through to produce growth, He adds another brush stroke to the under layer. Each test of faith, every time we choose to forgive, when we speak the truth in our hearts and allow Him to change us, more and more brilliant pigments are added! As we age, those pigments slowly begin to come to the surface. Suddenly there is nothing about us that looks ordinary! As we share those pigments with others, we show forth the glory of the master painter...God!  Every time we share how He has seen us through a trial, how He has changed our hearts, how He taught us to have faith, and the moments we chose to forgive others...they see a pigment. In sharing our journey the bright reds, flaming oranges, and golden yellows show through until finally we get to meet the master painter face to face!

     It often takes a lifetime to get all of our pigments. I've noticed that those who are in their seventies and beyond are the best at letting them show through. They are masters at transparency. Perhaps it's because they know that simply based on their age they are closer to meeting the master painter than ever before! Maybe it's because they have allowed the pigments He's painted to reach such deep layers of saturation in their lives that they have truly become those glorious colors! Whatever it is, they have an inner beauty that they eagerly share with anyone who is willing to sit for a while and listen....and spending time with them is such a treasure! Not only can we learn so much from the wisdom they've gained through the pigments of their lives, we get a glimpse of what our future can be...if we will allow God, the master painter to have his way.

     If we allow God to have His way in our lives, then we will spend all of our lives being changed one pigment at a time.  Finally, when it's near time to meet Him we will be at our peak showing forth the most splendor...for His glory! It's not easy to allow Him to have His way. Often the very things that will bring us those brilliant colors are the hardest and most painful of lessons we will learn. As I write this I find my heart's cry is to never stop letting Him have His way and to never stop growing. How about you? Do you want to to be plain old green or do you want to show forth His splendor to future generations? What brilliant color of His glory do you want to be?  I really hope I get to be flaming orange with a touch of red!

     

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One...

     Somewhere in Kentucky there is a cobblestone chimney and some bricks that were once part of my great grandparents' home. My husband traveled there recently with my father. He brought back a brick from the foundation and a large stone from the chimney. I have never met my great grandparents, Asa and Lora. They were the parents of my grandfather on my father's side. I have only one memory of my grandfather. I was four when he died.  There is something about holding the brick and the stone in my hands that feels like a connection to all of them....as if the remnants of the physical dwelling place are also remnants of another type of foundation...the foundation of family.

     It's remarkable how the rest of the old home is gone, but remnants of the foundation and the chimney still stand after all these years. It's a sort of marker for family members to go back to. It helps us find our way there and distinguish those ruins from the ruins of the other homes in the old mining town. The remnants of the family home may not be recognizable to others but we know what it is, our foundation...our beginning.

     All of this reminds me of the church. I've been wondering for a while now how the body of Christ can ever truly be one. We have so many differences and often allow those differences to divide us. I've been asking myself what can unify us? Is it even possible to have unity in the body of Christ on this side of heaven?  The remnants of my great grandparents' home have me wondering... if all of our differences disintegrated over time into ruins, what would the foundation be that would still be standing?

     If we set aside the things we disagree on like whether women should be pastors, when the rapture will take place, speaking in tongues, which political parties most line up with God's view on things, what would be left? What is the foundation of all of our faith? I believe it would be our love for Christ. Isn't the foundation of the home the most important part of it anyway? Without  the foundation a home can't stand, can't function. Without Christ there is no church.

     So what do we want our marker to be for future generations of the family of God? What will be our chimney, our brick? What is it that will stand the test of time when everything else around is in ruins? If we will cast aside our differences and allow ourselves to be unified by our love for Christ, then the church will have left a firm foundation for future Christ followers to come. We don't have to agree on everything to be one. Love for Christ will make us one when nothing else can.

     Often we mistake unity for agreeing with each other. Genuine unity means that I may strongly disagree with you, but I will love you just as fervently because I love Christ...and because of that I won't allow our differences to divide us and become bigger than my love for Him. Our love for Him is what makes us one. Our love for Him is the brick from the foundation that will allow the next generation of Christ followers to feel a connection to what Christ did through the generations before them. Yet, it's more than that...

     If we are one because of our love for Christ, that oneness...that unity will also be recognizable to the world. It will stand out like a cobblestone chimney in the midst of ruins. They will know that this is where the family of God dwells, because our unity and our love for Him sets us apart in a world that is constantly at odds with itself. Tired of living in the ruins, the weary world will want to know how it is we can be so different from each other and yet function in such profound love and unity. That is when we can point them to the foundation...Christ.

       I can hold that brick from the foundation of my great grandparent's home in my hand and feel  love for family I never knew.  Shouldn't it be this way in the body of Christ? Shouldn't we be able to take one look at each other and see only the love of our Savior and our love for Him? Suddenly....the differences fade away...just like the cracks and the dirt marks on my brick.