The Couch and The Nail Polish

For the last few weeks, I have been watching videos on RN Media that is preparing me for Easter. Each one is more moving than the last one.
In the last video, I was watching Kyle Idleman. He was sharing a story about the light colored couch he and his wife had bought. It was in the living room. One day he or his wife went into the room and was straightening the cushions. One of them was different. So as they turned the cushion over to put it back like it should be they noticed a stain. It was not just an ordinary stain it was pink fingernail polish. They called the girls in and asked who was the culprit. One of the girls couldn’t hold back and ran out of the room sobbing. Kyle goes after her and finds her in her closet, her head between her knees and sobbing. He holds her close and just lets her cry. Finally, they go down to the living room and she confesses to her mom. The child finally looks up at her mom and asks the question all parents have heard at some point, “Do you still love me?” This mother bends down, wraps her arms around her daughter and says, “You cannot create a big enough stain to make me stop loving you.”
He reminded me that we all live with or have lived with stains in our lives. We have all done something we regret. We have all done something that we wish we could blot out of our lives and our memory.
I am proud of this child. She admitted to messing up. How many times has our child tried to point the finger at a sibling or a friend? They try to pass the blame onto someone else. How many times have I tried to pass the blame onto someone else? We learn early that it’s okay to pass the blame. We find Eve passing the blame in Genesis 3:13, “Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What have you done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Before Eve blames the serpent we find Adam blaming Eve in verse 12, “the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” We instantly go into the blaming mode when we’ve done something wrong. Not only did our stain appear when we did something wrong, but it gets bigger when we blame an innocent person for something we did.
If we don’t play the blame game, then we, just like this child, try to hide our mistakes. We learned from Kyle this was a stain that had happened several days before. She turned the cushion over and hoped no one would notice. How many times do we try to cover up our mistakes? We might even go to the extreme point of lying to cover up our mistakes. We hope no one will ever find out. As a child, I learned quickly, it was best if I told the truth instead of hiding the truth. I have had children and grandchildren, for whatever reason, do poorly on a test or homework. They come home from school and try to hide the paper. It never worked with my parents, me or my daughters raising their children.
It doesn’t work with God either. Psalm 44:21 tells us this about God: “Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Even if we could hide it from our parents, family, and friends we can’t hide it from God. He knows it all. Just like confessing to our parents is always the best answer; confessing before God is even better.
I don’t know what happened to Kyle’s daughter. There might have been some punishment or maybe they thought she had punished herself enough. What I do know is her parents still loved her. God is the same way. He loves us no matter how big our stain is or how often we sin. God loves us. He looks past the sin and he hears us say, “Do you still love me?” He gets down on his knees and like this mother, he says to us today, “There is nothing you can do to keep me from loving you. Nothing will ever separate my love from you.” We are reminded, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 
God doesn’t stop there. He offers us the gift of grace. He takes that stain and removes it from our lives. Through grace, our lives have been made clean again. The stain on the couch is a visible sign that this child messed up. It will be a constant reminder for her and her family. God is different. Through his grace, he touches our lives and the stain is gone. It’s gone from his memory and it should be gone from ours. We no longer have to live with the memory. We don’t have to hide it and we certainly don’t have to blame others because simply put….it’s gone.
As we prepare for Easter, I encourage you to look to Jesus to help you deal with that stain in your life. Don’t be afraid to come to Jesus with that stain. He will simply put his arms around you and say to you, “you can’t create a big enough stain for me to stop loving you. I love you just as you are.” 
Jesus is waiting for you to come and confess. Don’t let the stain grow deeper or get any bigger. Quit hiding the stain. He’s waiting for you. 
Dear God: I have had stains in my life that I wanted to blot out or hide or to blame others for. I am sure there is a stain growing today that I need to confess to. Help me come to you with an honest approach and confess to you. Help me be willing to accept the consequences you have for me knowing you will also be offering me the gift of grace. Help me to understand there is nothing I can do that will turn your love away from me. Help me as I strive to not only love you more deeply each day but to follow you all the days of my life. Amen

Who Will I Serve?

There are many people today following their own lifestyles and doing their own thing. At the same time, this world is getting crazy. Life is like a whirlwind. I was watching a video that recently reminded me of all of this.
I’ve heard many people who follow Christ recently say, “I don’t know how people without Christ can get through these days. How do they make it through tough days? Who do they rely on to help them?” I would imagine you’d hear the folks they are talking about say, “I don’t need anyone. I can do this on my own.” That may very well be true.
As I reflected on this I began to think about myself. If I didn’t follow Christ, who would I follow? The saying goes, “you got to believe in something or your fall for anything”. So who are you going to believe in?
I honestly went through a period of time when life was tough. My life was not going as I had planned and God’s plan for my life was not a smooth journey. So, I decided I could handle my life better than he could. Well, we all know how that turned out. After a few years, I decided I couldn’t do any better than he could.
Believing I could handle life without Christ was not the best choice for me. So, what else could I believe in? Oh, I could believe in friends, but I soon found out, friends often disappointed me and I really couldn’t put my faith in them. Could it be they were the wrong friends?
I could put my faith in the world. But, the world changes ideas faster than I can keep up with. One minute the world tells me this is what I should be doing and the very next minute the world would have me believe something different.
I could put my faith in politics, but that does not always lead us down a good road. I could have idols, but idols often fall and once again, disappoint us.
I could put my faith in my furry friends, but when it comes to sharing opinions and beliefs, the furry friends aren’t responsive. They love us and make us feel good but that’s about it. They keep us company.
I could put my faith in material blessings and make them my god, but what happens if I have an accident and my car is destroyed…the car I made my god is now destroyed. Or what if I made my house my god and the house is suddenly swept away by floods or tornadoes? Or I put my faith in my money or my job and I lose it? It seems to me, material blessings are not the answer either. They can disappoint and urge me to crave more and more. Material items often make me crave and strive for more without ever making me feel satisfied.
As I see it, there isn’t much else to put our faith in. In Joshua 24 we find Joshua has assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He called them all together and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua begins to tell the people all the things God has commanded him to say. Then we get to verses 14-15 and he says this, “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Very clearly Joshua has said God has called the people to fear him. We understand this fear to mean reverence and awe. We are to be in awe of God. If you look at creation, it is not hard to be in awe of God. One morning, I was able to get up and see the sun come up over the water. I was in awe of God and it made me want to get down and praise His name. That’s the kind of awe we are talking about. When you see a baby for the first time, or you see anything that moves you into a breathtaking event that is when you experience reverent fear. When we want to just fall on our knees and say thank you, that’s the fear God wants us to experience.
Then he called them to throw away the gods their ancestors worshipped. We are to throw away anything that we worship more deeply than God. We all know God is to be first in our lives. He has top priority over everything given to us. I had something I cherished so much. I believe deep down it was taking over my life. I was so proud of this item. I was the queen of it all. I had it all. God being the good Father he is decided I was a little too proud and had made it my god. It was taken from me. I went without for two years. Finally, God allowed me to replace this item, but it was a much simpler item. I was humbled. I realized what I had done. Anything that we place value over God’s love is our god. We are to throw them out. We cannot worship anything but God.
He goes on to tell the people God has given them permission not to serve him. If it seems too hard or undesirable to follow God then don’t. He goes on to say to them, but choose who you will serve. God knows we will all serve something or somebody. We will make something our god. What will you make your god if you choose not to follow God?
Joshua says as, for him and his household, they will serve the Lord. You may not choose to serve the Lord, but after seeking other choices and following other gods, I most certainly will choose to serve the Lord. I have sought and served other gods and they all disappointed me and left me wanting something more.
I found something more in God. God has filled me with more than enough. He has given me leftovers so I can share them with others. Psalm 23:5 says it best, “ You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

There is nothing in this world or made from this world or any material possessions that will fill me up and take away the striving for more. God fills me up and takes away my desires for more and more.
So who will I choose to be my god? I choose God every time. Who will you choose?
Dear God, thank you for Joshua and his words to the tribes of Israel. Thank you for speaking through Joshua and encouraging us to get rid of the gods we worship. Help us to have a reverent fear for you. May we be in awe of you as we look this Spring at your creation coming alive after a time of resting during Winter. Be with our households as we boldly choose to serve and worship you. May we encourage those around us to leave their gods and to serve and love you fully. Amen

The Farmer and the Seed

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants so that they did not bear grain. Still, other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Mark 4:3-9 New International Version (NIV)
I was raised on a farm. My parents and grandparents both had farms. I understand about sowing seeds. I remember my dad and my grandfather would be so disappointed because they would sow seeds in their fields and they wouldn’t come up. If they did come up they did not multiply like they should have and the crop was not as plentiful as they would have liked. We also had deer on the property and they would love to come and eat from the fields. That would also take away from the harvest at the end of the season.
Sometimes instead of planting plants, I sow seeds. I have noticed, just like my father and grandfather, that some of the seeds I sow come up while others for whatever reason don’t. I don’t always get the best results or the results that I’d like to get. But the ones that make it make my garden beautiful to look at.
This is what Jesus is talking about in this parable. Sometimes the word of God falls on people, but before it can be digested or sowed deep in the soul Satan comes along and the Word of God has swept away. There are many people today who know about God but for whatever reason is not persuaded to follow him. They sow their own seeds. Unfortunately, when the harvest is ready they will not be.
He goes on to say some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil. There are many people who hear about God and decide to follow him, but when troubles come they quickly fall away. They have not been planted long enough for roots to form. They are new Christians that may not have been tended to. When things don’t go as they think they should and temptation comes along they are overtaken. They don’t have the strength to fight the temptation to stay strong and be harvested.
There are some who have decided to follow Christ but do not change their old habits or lifestyle. I don’t agree with dropping friendships just because you are a Christian and they are not. At the same time, I think we have to be careful about running with the same crowd. If the crowd that we followed before we met Christ does things that Christ says are not good for us and it becomes a real temptation then we need to begin to think about changing who we hang out with. Just like the good seeds that are sowed weeds come in and choke out the good seeds that could happen to us. We have to make sure we are not trying to grow our faith among the weeds. We can’t ignore those weeds, we have to deal with them, but we need to be careful they don’t choke us out.
Then, of course, there are those seeds that take root, stand strong and when it is time for the harvest they are among the first. These seeds turn into flowers that are beautiful, bountiful and make a lasting impression. That is what we are called to be. We need to be tended to as young Christians, we need to be careful with our lifestyles, we need a deep root system in Christ so we can be among the harvest when God comes back.
Just going out and throwing seeds in the dirt never works. We need to plant, to get rid of weeds and to fertilize and water our seeds. We need to tend to them daily. It takes work to make a beautiful garden that comes from seeds. Casually throwing faith into our lives will not work. It takes work. We have to plant deeply the words God gives us. We have to fertilize our faith by adding Bible Study, prayer and a disciplined life that follow God’s teaching. We have to get rid of the temptation that often crops up in our lives. If we don’t we will soon find temptation has strangled us. We have to have a strong root system that is grounded in Christ. Our root system often is built on our relationship to Christ and fellow believers who can help us grow deeper in our faith. Once we do all of these things and we tend daily to our faith, when the harvest is ready and Christ comes we will be among those who will be ready to be harvested.
My father and grandfather knew in order to get a great harvest in the fall it took a lot of work on their part. They also knew they would need help from God with the right amount of rain and sun. It’s the same way with us. We sow the seeds of faith. We put our trust in God. We believe he will send just the right amount of storms to help us nurture our faith. We can trust God to send us those daily blessings to shine down on us and to warm our faith and make it grow stronger. If we do all these things, believe all these things then we can have hope that one day we will be harvested and planted in God’s garden and live with him forever. 
Soon it will be time to plant seeds. I hope as you do you reflect on Jesus’ first parable. Which seed are you? 
Dear God, thank you for sending your Son to us so we may be taught what it takes to be ready when you come back for us. Help us as we strive to have faith that is deeply rooted in you. May we leave behind lifestyles that lead us into temptations where we can be swallowed up and not allowed to grow in you. Send us what we need; those trials, temptations, and blessings so that our faith will grow strong in you. May we be ready on the day you come back to gather up your bountiful harvest. Amen

An Ordinary Life Turned into Wine

I was listening to a video of Christ’s first miracle. Christ had been invited to go to a wedding feast. I remember my daughters’ weddings. We prepared for months. Everything had to be perfect. Well, things didn’t go perfectly. There were minor things that went wrong all along including the day of the event. The girl’s still got married and we still celebrated.
If we read the story found in John 2, we see that even this wedding had problems. It seems that either more people showed up than expected or those who were invited drank more than the groom had planned. Maybe they just didn’t order or buy enough wine. Whatever the case, they ran out of wine. That wedding even had glitches.
When things did go wrong at our girls’ weddings, we just went on. We did not send people out to get what we needed. We moved on. Jesus’ mother was there at the wedding with Jesus. It’s noted in scripture that she came to Jesus and told him the wine was all gone. He replied back to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with me?” Ignoring the question she looked at the servants who were helping with the celebration and told them to do whatever he asked of them.
We are told that nearby there were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual. We are also told they held about twenty to thirty gallons. The Bible goes on to tell us that Jesus told the servants to fill them with water and they filled them to the brim. After filling the jars, they were to take some to the head waiter for a taste. We know the water was turned into wine. The headwaiter was quite pleased.
As I listened to this story, something struck me. Jesus took something so ordinary and turned it into something so beautiful. He took something as plain as water; something we use every day, without actually thinking about it, and turned it into something else. If he can do that with water, think about what he could do with our lives if we let him.
I had to laugh because that is something God does every day with us. He takes us and turns us into something beautiful and useful. We think we are plain, ordinary people, but God sees us differently. Christ saw the potential of what water could be if he added his touch to it. God sees the potential in us when He is allowed to work in our lives.
We are reminded once again in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Just as God created water and made it wonderfully well, he made us. We all know how useful water is and how important water is to all of us. If we allow God to use us, he can turn us into something that is just as powerful and important. Now, we may not be important in the world’s eyes, but to those who we share God’s love with, we are pretty important and powerful.
I have seen men and women who have lived ordinary lives. They have given themselves to Christ and Christ turned them into something beautiful.
Billy Graham, who recently passed away, is a perfect example. He was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and was one of four children. He was raised on a dairy farm. There was no indication early on that he would become so powerful. A young boy raised on a farm; how much ordinary can you get? Yet at 16, he attended his first series of revival meetings. I am sure this is where he met God and God turned this ordinary man’s life into something so beautiful.
There are many more stories of lives that could be told, where men and were living ordinary lives, they had an encounter with God and life changed for them. I recently did a Bible Study with Candace Payne. You talk about living an ordinary mundane life. She had one. God pointed her in the direction of a Chewbacca mask. She put it on and life changed for her. I am almost certain God knew the plans he had for this ordinary wife and mother and the impact she would make on so many lives. Once again, from the plain to the beautiful.
David is our last example. If you read 1 Samuel, you will find David. He is the youngest of eight sons. He is out with his sheep when God uses Samuel to change his life from a shepherd boy into a mighty king; from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
How do you see yourself? Do you compare yourself to water; something that is pretty common and ordinary? Does your life look pretty plain with little value? God turned something so ordinary into something extraordinary. He can do that with your life if you will allow Him to. Just like Mary said to the servants at the wedding, “do whatever he asks”, I am challenging you to do whatever Jesus asks and allow him to turn your life into something extraordinary. It might not be according to the world’s standards, but to the headwaiter, it will be worth it all. To those who God sends your way, it will be as sweet as the water that was turned into wine.
An ordinary life or a life that is extraordinary? It’s your choice. God is waiting to do something miraculous in your life. Follow his commands and see what happens.
Dear God: I’ve heard this story so many times, but I have not thought about something so ordinary as water being turned into something so amazing. If you can do that with water what can you do with my life? All I need to do is give you permission to move in my life and to follow your commands. My body is an empty vessel waiting for you to fill it with your Spirit. Guide my ways; direct my paths. Fill me Lord with your goodness and may I be poured out as a blessing to others. Amen

Giving Back During Lent

We are in the midst of Lent. In a few short weeks, we will be celebrating Palm Sunday and then Easter. 
I always struggle with giving something up for Lent. As I was pondering this, I was given a gentle reminder. Go with me on this journey.
We all know God gave his only Son to die on our behalf. We are told Christ gave up his life that we might live. I think that is where the giving up comes from. Christ gave up his life as a reminder that we are to give up something. We are to focus on what God did for us and his sacrificial love.
But, there is another aspect to this. Yes, Christ gave up his life so we could have a life. In other words, Christ gave us back our life. You see, we were doomed to die with no hope of having eternal life. Christ came and gave up his life so we could experience that eternal life. We were doomed, but instead of letting us die with no hope, Christ came and gave us our lives back by dying on the cross in our place.
He said to us, Instead of you dying, I am going to take your place. I am giving you back your life and allowing them to take mine instead. So, what would it look like if we decided to give back instead of giving something up? We could just as easily show our love and appreciation to Christ by remembering he gave us back our lives.
Giving back to others the way Christ gave us back our lives would look different for each of us. Some of us might give back in a monetary way. We might give back a portion of our income so others might be helped or reached.
Others might give back by serving a meal to the homeless or buying groceries for those who are in need.
Giving back might mean transporting folks to doctors visits or to the store. It might mean visiting with shut-ins or the elderly.
For some, these are opportunities they already participate in. If you do, how about taking it a bit further and doing something out of your comfort zone? Christ certainly got out of his comfort zone as He died on the cross for us. How about visiting someone in the prison system? How about sharing a meal with someone from a different culture other than yours and getting to understand them?
What would it look like if you took a young adult (or if you are the young adult, take an older adult) to an activity of their choice and spend time seeing where they come from? Or sitting down with them and listen to their concerns about the future?
Maybe getting out of your comfort zone for lent would be going to a Contemporary Worship service and learning to worship in a different way.
We get so consumed with giving something up for Lent, we forget about how Christ gave us back our lives. We benefited from his death. How can others benefit from something we do, as a reminder of what Christ gave back to us?
When winter hits, it takes away our beauty and leaves us with creation resting (and dying) for a period of time. Spring comes along and gives us back what winter took from us. Spring brings back beautiful flowers, the warmth of the sun and a new sense of hope. God never takes things away from us without giving us something back. We lose hope and a door of opportunity opens. We lose a paycheck and blessings are abundantly poured out on us. Christ was taken from his Disciples but then the Holy Spirit comes and takes Christ’s place.
God is a giver of all things. He gives back to us in so many ways. This year, maybe it’s time to give back to God by blessing others in some way.
How might you this year, remember what Christ did for you, and give back a little of yourself to others? I challenge you to think about Christ giving us back our lives by dying on the cross for each of us. I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone like Christ did and give to others as a reminder that Christ died so we may live.
May God bless you during Lent.
Dear God: We often think about how your Son gave up his life so we might live. We don’t think about how he gave back to us by allowing us to have eternal life. He gave us hope that we can live eternally with him. Remind us during Lent that He gave us back our lives as he stepped into our shoes and took our place on the cross. Help us to find ways to remember this sacrificial act by helping those who are in need. Lead me out of my comfort zone and into doing for you those things you have called me to do. Thank you, Father, for sending your Son so I might have hope and live eternally with you. Amen

An Olympians’s Disappointment

We are watching the Olympics right now. They are about to come to a closure. I saw something that bothered me last night as I was watching them. One of the team players that received a silver medal was disappointed she did not get gold. As they placed the silver medal around her neck she instantly took it off as a symbol of disappointment for not getting gold. This made me sad. Instead of being content with what she received she was discontented with not winning the gold. There were many Olympians there I am sure that never had any hope of receiving any medal, yet with pride, they played for their country. It was about representing their country not walking away with a victory. It was about being present at the Olympics not about winning.
As I thought about this I wondered how many times has God given me something in my life just for me to be disappointed because I didn’t get what I wanted? God gives us good gifts. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 He gives us what we need and what is best for us. In my mind, I might not think it’s good enough, or it wasn’t what I wanted. I may have pouted for several days, (like I think this Olympian will) because God had disappointed me. Instead of appreciating the gifts God had given me I pouted.
I am sure there were many Olympians that would have been happy with that silver medal. I would have been happy with any medal since I am not athletically talented. We should learn to appreciate the gifts that are given to us.
One year for Christmas I had told my husband several times what I wanted. I hinted and hinted. I was sure he knew what I wanted. Christmas morning came around and I was so excited until I saw the package from my husband. It couldn’t possibly be what I wanted. It wasn’t shaped right. I opened my gift and to my amazement, it was something I had not asked for at all. Secretly, I think it was something he wanted so he justified it by giving it to me as a gift. I was disappointed. My husband was so excited I couldn’t let him down so I acted thrilled even though on the inside I was disappointed. I learned to appreciate the gift. We need to learn to appreciate the gifts God gives us no matter what they are or when they arrive.
In Genesis 21 we know Sarah becomes pregnant at an older age. I am wondering if she was a little disappointed. She had asked for so many years to be a mother at an earlier age. She didn’t get what she wanted until years later. Now, folks, I am sorry, but yes I would be a little upset with God giving me the gift of pregnancy at such an age as Sarah was. I think I might have pouted for a while. I am not sure I would appreciate the gift of pregnancy given my age even though that is what I really wanted. I wanted it when I wanted it and I am sure Sarah thought the same thing, not when God thinks I should have it and certainly not at an older age.
1Timothy 4:4-5 says this, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” Everything God created is good. So, whatever he gives us he created and it is good. We are not to reject what he has given us, but accept each gift he gives with thanksgiving.
As I look around me here at my home I see things that others have that are nicer or newer and I sometimes wish I could have more material blessings or newer material blessings, but this is what God has given me for now. I have been on mission trips to Jamaica and Haiti and I remember the little huts they call home. It brings me back to reality and I thank God for those things he has given me. Those trips make me appreciate the things I do have.
My husband was out of a job for several years when our daughters were growing up. They couldn’t always have the newest or latest toys, sometimes their clothes were a little outdated, but they were always fed and warm. We would explain to our girls why they were not able to have some of the things others their age had or why they wore the clothes they wore. These girls today appreciate so much more the things they have today than many of their peers. They were taught to appreciate what they had and what God had given them. They are all blessed today because times were tough for them then.
I would like to say later this young lady had a change of heart and appreciated her medal. I can’t say that because I don’t know, but it was a reminder for me to appreciate the things God gives me. It was a stark reminder that I may not always get what I want, but if I want joy in my life I will learn to accept and appreciate the things God makes sure I have.
The next time I am given a gift from God or anyone else I will bow my head in thanksgiving and be thankful for the good gifts that often comes from the heart.
How about you? When is the last time God has given you a gift and you were disappointed because it didn’t come when you think it would or it wasn’t what you wanted? Let’s learn together to appreciate all that’s been given to us and let us remember there are those who would appreciate what we’ve been given.
Dear God: Sometimes I act just like this young lady. I am not grateful for those things you have given me. I wanted something different or I wanted it earlier. Remind me you created all things and all things are good. Help me as I move forward and learn to be appreciative of the things you have given me. Remind me all things come from you and you know what is best for me. Thank you for the gifts you have given me. Amen

My Neglected Plant

I received a plant several years ago after a relative’s funeral. I have been nurturing it for the last few years. This winter I am not sure what happened. I brought it in for the winter and set it down. In the busyness of my life, I didn’t nurture like I had been. One day, I looked at it and it was pretty sad. Some of the leaves were falling to the ground and the other leaves were turning brown. It was knocking on death’s door. I picked off the leaves that were brown and cut it back to where you barely saw any green. I was bound and determined I was going to save this plant. My husband wasn’t as hopeful. I watered it for the first time in months. Now I know memories don’t lie in a plant. It’s just a plant, but like my relative, I was not ready for this plant to die. I began nurturing the plant again. After a few weeks, I looked at the plant and it was coming back to life. The roots of the plant began to grow new stems and life was returning to this plant. It was green and vibrant. I am more than a little excited. 
As I thought about this, I realized that it’s the same way with our faith. Once we accept Christ, we have to nurture our faith. Just like the plant needed water and the right lighting, we need those same things in our faith.
In the story of the woman at the well, we know Jesus offers her living water. He says to her in John 4:13-14, “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.” We know Jesus is the source of living water. If our faith is to be nurtured and kept alive, we must believe in and follow Jesus.
Sunlight is so important to some plants. We need light in our lives as well. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 Reading the word daily provides us with the light that need. We need that nurturing, daily word to guide us in the way we live and the direction we take.
I have heard, strangely enough, that there are people who sing or talk to their plants. Now, I am pretty sure my plant does not want to hear me sing. But, singing praises to God will certainly help our faith to grow and be stronger. I have found in my own life, as I sing praises and listen to praise music, my faith grows stronger in so many ways. Psalm 95:1 says this, “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.”

Praying to God and talking with God on a daily basis will most likely nurture our faith and keep it alive and vibrant. Ephesians 6:18, “And 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 all the Lord’s people.”  Just as some people think it’s important to speak to their plant, it is vital that we speak to God on a daily basis to keep our faith from dying.
I was doing all the right things in the beginning, but after awhile, I began to be less nurturing to my plant. I began to lose focus on what my plant really needed. If we don’t stay focused and do the things we need to do, our faith will surely die out. “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet!” Philippians 3:15 The Message
If I had listened to my husband, I would have discarded the plant. Sometimes in this world, we get caught up and find our faith wavering or not as it should be. We can beat ourselves up and say, “what’s the point?” Or we can begin the process of nurturing our faith once more. It would have been easy for me to throw out the plant. Instead, I invested time and energy and brought the plant back to life. Your faith is worth saving. All it takes is a little investment, time and energy. You can listen to the world who loves to tell us,”it’s too late for you, it’s not worth saving!” Or we can listen to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one that says, “You are worth it. Go for it! Stay focused. You CAN do this.”
It’s our choice. I had a choice to discard the plant or I could choose to keep it, nurture it once more and bring it back to life. That is what God calls us to do. Come to him and allow him to nurture you back to life. Through His word, His Son and His Spirit we can once again have that vibrant faith we had before or maybe one that is even better than before.
Are you discarding a faith that once was vibrant and full of life? Or are you willing to nurture it back to a life filled with the hope of all that God has promised for us?
My plant is a vibrant green and growing. My prayer is that your faith is vibrant and growing as we journey to the Cross during Lent.
Dear God, I know my family member is not in the plant. It doesn’t even hold memories of that person. But, you know Lord just like I wasn’t ready to lose this person I was not ready to lose this plant. Thank you for letting this be a teaching moment. As I nurture the plant back to life, remind me daily to nurture my faith so it can be vibrant and full of life. Let me stay focused on what matters. Remind me that just like this plant needed water, and the right light and even praises so do my faith. Remind me to water my faith with your words, that I follow the One true light and I sing praises daily of what you are doing in my life. Amen.