Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gardening for God: What We Can Learn From Dandelions

I’ve been doing a lot of weeding lately and have noticed a few things about dandelions. They are adaptable; they thrive in all sorts of areas. They are tough; they withstand adverse conditions well. They are incredibly tenacious; simply picking their leaves, flowers, and top roots will not get rid of them. All of those attributes are desirable, so what can we learn from them?

One thing is that those attributes have a common source: the fact that dandelions are very well rooted. A mature dandelion has a very long, strong, tap root that goes far into the soil. That allows it to stay alive in areas and conditions that, superficially, seem less than hospitable. Their root system reaches beyond that apparent adversity to draw what they need from another place. It also explains their tenacity; absent the use of chemicals, you can’t get rid of a dandelion unless you pull out its tap root or at least a good portion of it.

Scripture reflects the importance of being well rooted, albeit in God rather than in soil. It repeatedly speaks of how those rooted in God and His ways are blessed. They are strong. Job 29:19; Ephesians 3:17-19; Colossians 2:6-7. They become wise. Ephesians 3:17-19. They are fruitful. Proverbs 12:12; Ezekiel 17:6. They have beauty and are complete. Ezekiel 31:7; Ephesians 3:17-19. They are able to persist in difficult circumstances, Proverbs 12:3, and to overcome adversity. Isaiah 53:2; Jeremiah 17:7-8. Perhaps that’s why Colossians 2:7 instructs us to be “firmly rooted” in Christ.

Scripture also instructs that those who lose their rootedness in God, or who seek to be rooted in other things, suffer for it. They whither. Job 18:16; Isaiah 5:24. They bear no fruit, or at least no good fruit. Wisdom 4:3-5; Sirach 23:25; Ezekiel 17:7, 9; Hosea 9:16. They become weak, shaken, and susceptible to upheaval. Job 8:16-19; Wisdom 4:3-5. They become weak and eventually die. Sirach 40:15; Ezekiel 17:7, 9; Hosea 9:16.

The point should be clear: we are much better off being rooted in God than not being so. How to grow those roots will be discussed in another post.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Being Steeped

As I was making a cup of tea I had several insights into how the process of maturing in Christ is a lot like the process of steeping tea. At least four similarities came to mind.

First, it takes time. Just as it is nearly impossible to instantly get real tea flavor, it is very unusual for a person to take on anything close to Jesus’ real flavor quickly. It simply takes time to get there, as scripture reflects. Proverbs 4:18; Colossians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 3:18. See also Sirach 24:30-31.

Second, the process is expedited by heat. Although room temperature water can eventually be steeped into tea, the process occurs much more quickly with hot water. The same is true of taking on Christ’s nature. Both common experience and scripture teach that adversity—“being in hot water”—catalyzes our growth in Godliness. Hebrews 12:11-13; 1 Peter 1:1-7; 2 Corinthians 7:8-11; Deuteronomy 8:2-6; Psalm 119:71.

Third, strength is directly related to the amount of interaction. A cup of tea gets stronger the longer it’s in direct contact with the tea and we grow stronger in Christ the more we interact with Him. That dynamic is repeatedly reflected in scripture through instructions to pray frequently, to meditate on God’s word, and to gather together with other believers (who are the body of Christ).

Fourth and finally, the end result is pleasing. A well steeped cup of tea tastes great and gives renewed energy. Scripture describes that reality when it describes the fruits of a mature relationship with God.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Into the Wind

Some time ago I had to walk into the wind to get where I needed to go. That was not pleasant. On the other hand, when I was done there and going back, the wind was at my back and the walk was not bad at all.

That brought to mind the fact that scripture repeatedly uses wind to represent God’s Holy Spirit. John 3:8; Acts 2:2.

It occurred to me that walking into the wind is like going against the prompting of the Holy Spirit: It can be done, but the result is not pleasant. In contrast, moving in the same direction as the Spirit is much easier.

Other images relating to the Holy Spirit as to wind were posted Oct. 5, 2006, and June 18, 2005.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What We Can Learn About God From Being Parents: Understanding God's Jealousy

I experienced something last week that gave me an insight into God’s statements that He is “jealous.”

My 6 year old daughter and I were in the deep end of a wave pool at a water park, the waves were pretty big, and she was being bounced about. I was moving around, trying to keep close by her in case she needed help, when another adult inadvertently got between us. That aroused a burst of anger in me because I perceived that he hindered my ability to get to my daughter. He quickly moved past, and so did my anger, but the experience left an impression.

God likely feels something like that when things get between us and Him. He wants to be there for us, and must be similarly angered when people/relationships/other things interfere with His access to us. See e.g. Deuteronomy 6:10-19 and Exodus 34:12-16.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What We Can Learn About God From Being Parents: Avoidable Difficulty

My 6 year old daughter and I were at a water park last week. She was drifting around in the shallow end of the wave pool, letting the waves push her around, and didn’t realize that she was about to be pushed into an older gentleman.

That could have been easily averted if she would’ve stood up. I told her to get up, reached out, took her hand, and tried to help her onto her feet. She didn’t understand and didn’t try to stand up, so we had a hard time getting her out of the waves’ control. The collision was averted, but it was more difficult than it needed to be.

We adults are probably in similar circumstances more often than we realize. We’re drifting along, about to have a problem, God tries to help us avoid it, but we don’t “get” Him. We don’t respond as He would like us to, and the result is avoidable difficulty.