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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lily's Lesson

This is Lily, my geranium.

See the new buds sticking up out of the plant? Aren’t they beautiful? So hopeful; a kind of quiet beckoning, whispering for me to expect happy beauty in the next few days. Those buds weren’t there yesterday. At least I hadn’t noticed them. But they must have been there…I think the reason I didn’t notice them was because, as a geranium, Lily still had all the old brown ugliness of past blooms clinging to her. This morning I pulled off the old dead stuff.

Suddenly she looks fresh, and clean, and green, and filled with a hope of beauty again. Lily has been sitting on my windowsill for two years now. Sometimes she looks brown and dusty, and (to be quite honest) simply ugly, without a hint of ever blooming again, and I wonder why I let her stay. But I can tell she’s still alive, so I leave her on the window, occasionally dumping water from the dregs of my bottles or the dogs’ dish onto her soil. And then I wake up one morning to red buds. And I realize I haven’t cleared her of the old dead leaves in months. When I pull them off, there she is, all fresh and green, and budding again and offering a hope of happy beauty in coming days. I tend to forget about her, she’s so steadily there. I snap shots of my teapots or books, and forget she’s even in the picture.

For two years it’s gone on. I don’t know how Lily has survived my haphazard care that long, except by the grace of God. But then that’s how we all survive, isn’t it? Only by the grace of God, getting up every morning, looking in the mirror and seeing ourselves…again…still alive, still breathing. Some morning’s that’s kind of what I think: “Well, here I am again.” But then there are other mornings when I get up excited, ready to serve the good God and spill His love onto those that come in contact with me. “Oh boy, I get to live again today!”

I can’t help thinking I’m a little like Lily. She just keeps blooming. Keeps living, keeps putting out beautiful red flowers, stops blooming until she gathers her strength for it again, and then come the buds one unexpected morning!

If we are always at the brimming tip of our energy and delight, we burn out. And then comes the inevitable question, “what did I do wrong?” The answer might be nothing; it’s only that you are at a strength gathering season, and just give it a week or two, and the brown dead stuff will pull away and the happy blooms will be back. I’m not talking about seasons of depression. I’m not even talking about wearing thin and feeling like every day is a grind (like I spoke of in my last post). I just mean that in the Christian life, some days you wake up ecstatically excited to serve our good God and to do the little chores He’s given you, and some days you wake up just content and mildly happy with it.

Endurance is the thing. You just keep going. And as you just keep living and doing what you’re supposed to, the buds just keep showing up. They come, they bloom, then they leave, allowing a little brownness into your life. And then a passage of Scripture, a silly game with family, Spirit breathed enthusiasm pouring into your heart, a phone call from a friend, something comes along and the brownness falls away and there you are; fresh and green, joyful and expectant…promising a hope of happy beauty.

Keep living, Lily. I can’t wait to see your buds turn into flowers.  

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