Beautiful Mess

May 31, 2018

These flowers are growing in my flower bed. I planted them a few seasons ago because my Sweetie loves daisies. I do too now. They’re very resilient and remarkably hearty.

I planted daisies so my wife would see them day after day and know that I love her.

But there are other less intentional results of planting daisies.

I see them and remember why I planted them. I see them in the winter time when everything is brown and dormant and I pull the old dead stuff away. I see them begin to come back each spring with those dark green leaves peaking through the mulch. I see them spread out and fill out and produce those little buds. I see the first flowers and know that there are many more to come.

But sometimes I just see the grass that I can’t seem to get to grow 3 feet away on the other side of the sidewalk and yet somehow thrives in the midst of the daisies. Sometimes I see that annoying nutgrass stalk that, if I pull it out, will somehow multiply and spread even more. Sometimes I see the dead leaves that I didn’t manage to get cleaned out of the flower bed very effectively.

When I look at the various parts of my life, I am beginning to realize that I tend to see the weeds instead of the flowers. I see the messes I’ve made and completely overlook the beauty in the midst of the mess.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying we shouldn’t pull weeds or clean the flower beds. But I’ve walked this earth long enough to know that there will always be more mess. But the inevitable mess grows like weeds from the same rich soil that yields the flowers.

What I’m getting at is that the mess is just a part of this world. The wonder of it all is that so much beauty can grow in the middle of the mess.

I probably don’t have to try very hard to convince you that this world is full of brokenness—mess. But I also don’t have to try too hard to convince you that there is so very much beauty right in the middle of the brokenness.

Yesterday I conducted a funeral service for a very dear, sweet lady who was a very faithful follower of Jesus and tremendous prayer warrior. That loss hurts for many of us. But the joy of the memories we shared with her and even the sharing of those memories together was genuinely sweet.

Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive experiences. In fact, I believe most joys have a tinge of sorrow—someone we long to have share them that is not able to do so, something that we know would make it so much sweeter. And most sorrows have tinges of joy if we’re willing to see and acknowledge them—having been loved well, having experienced something precious to lose.

I think that our brother James so long ago was challenging us to train our eyes on the joys among the struggles when he wrote these words:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the steadfastness of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1.2-3)

Look for the joy amidst the sorrows, the flowers among the weeds, the beauty in the mess. It doesn’t take away the sorrow or the weeds or the mess. But it does produce a healthy dissatisfaction with what is and a deep longing for what is to come.

And I believe that, the more we long for what will be, the more we will strive to make the mess more beautiful here and now.

Look at the picture again. Don’t ignore the mess. But see the beauty.

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It is Well, BUT…

September 4, 2014

Recent days have seen some truly amazing people leave the bonds of this world in what has seemed truly untimely deaths. The ones on whom I reflect have lived lives that testify powerfully of a life beyond – the true life that they no doubt enjoy even now in the presence of their Father whom they loved so very truly.

The peole that truly knew these folks are left in a very challenging spot. We are taught by our trust in God’s promises that have gone on are far better off than we. Disease has no more power over them and the frustrating limitations of this flesh has been left behind.

But we who remain are caught in this awkward mixture of deep sorrow for the loss of one so dear and yet a profound gratitude that their suffering has ended and their joy is full. We know down deep in our souls that it is well, as the old song so simply states it. And yet, our hearts hurt.
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Say It

August 13, 2014

The world of social media has been abuzz the last couple of days with so much talk of mental illness and its ramifications, connotations, and insinuations. This is not surprising, given the circumstances, but sometimes I think we just talk to much.

I think we get so absorbed in ourselves that we often fail to really express some things that we probably feel that shouldn’t be left unsaid. If you have been shocked or troubled by the most recent celebrity death, would you take a wee bit of advice from a friend?

Say it.

The care you have in your heart for the people in your life, the appreciation you have for the folks that make your life better, the recognition of people around you who do things well – all of it, just say it.

Say “thank you.” And mean it.

Say, “I love you” where you need to say it.

I’m no expert on grief, but in fifteen years of pastoring I have never heard a grieving family member say, “I wish I hadn’t told him that I loved him so much.”
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