The Blessing of Allergies

Today has me inside. I ventured outside this morning to pick the dandelion blooms and halt their full development. Across our bumpy, hillocky, rock-here-and-there yard I went–in search of those frowsy, bright yellow bursts. A slip on the mossy slope surely gave me a bruised knee, but I also collected a “bouquet” of blossoms. All of that proved more than enough to start me sneezing and making a bee-line back inside for a tissue.

Still, there were plants to be watered! I filled the watering can several times and, plant by plant, gave each one a cool drink (and each one a sneeze “blessing”).

The last watering can was for our bird bath. It sits beneath a maple tree and the birds love an afternoon splash. I’m not sure any bird would have wanted to splash around in that bird bath right then though. If there were a Water Purity Board for bird baths, ours would’ve been on the Hazardous-Zone list! The surface was a cloudy mass of pollen and a larger grid of maple seeds and small twigs. So, out went the old water in a waterfall onto the ivy and then went in the clean, clear water.

Of course, this brought on another bout of sneezing.

So–enough outside time!

Inside, I can still see the outside and still enjoy the shades of new green on the ivy, the new tree leaves quivering in the gentle breeze, the sifting of white pollen floating across the window… and wonder…

Just what is pollen?

The stuff of growth in plants.

The reason I carry a tissue in my back pocket.

The catalyst for sneezes and itchy eyes.

Funny–how growth and trials go together…and yet ~

Don’t growth and trials often coexist in our Christian walk?

It’s often steep and awkward.

It includes some hands-for-others work, some ego-bruises.

We need tissues from time to time.

Our eyes become red.

But that’s not all that’s happening! Consider Romans 5:1-5:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” 

Justification. Peace. Access. Endurance. Character. Hope.

Wow! Since we’re talking horticulturally, don’t you know those are Best of Show-worthy blossoms! I certainly want those flowers in my garden, in my life. You, too?

Well, as any good gardener knows, beautiful gardens take work. There’s compost to add, soil to turn, weeds to pull, plants to stake.

But there’re also vegetables to pick, fruit to harvest, flowers to enjoy.

And there’s time to wonder.

Our God made the microscopic filament of pollen.

He made it not so light

that it floated on forever,

never landing,

but just light enough

to sail through the air,

falling into the open fertile soil

of a crack in a wall.

Everything grows with God.

He can use any thing, any one, any situation, any where.

He can even use sneezes and red eyes.

So, let’s keep our eyes on Him. Let’s keep our eyes, as Hebrews 12:2 encourages us ~

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Heaven ~ no pollen there!

Let’s rejoice in the hope of physical and spiritual blossoms to come and the even more brilliant hope of heaven!

 

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In Hot Water?

Have you ever felt like you’re about to be in hot water? You know that feeling: Your name’s about to be called or all eyes are on you or you’re plunging headfirst into img_3174uncharted territory. There’s a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Your breathing repetitions increase. A seemingly logical dread swamps your thinking.

And then nothing bad happens.

Or maybe something bad does happen.

Whichever outcome, there’s hope in Psalm 51, verses 11 and 12.

In this deeply repentant song, we see David’s heart–repentant, sorrowful, honest. And talk about deep water. David’s deep water incident had just become known to the prophet, Nathan, and Nathan had just confronted David with his sin with Bathsheba. David felt very humbled and very convicted that he had sinned against God. Click on the blue link and you can read the whole tragic story narrated in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.

Now let’s look back at Psalm 51. In verse 1, David opens with a searing cry for mercy based on the steadfast love of God.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin!”

Have you ever cried out for mercy in the middle of that hot water moment? I certainly have. Sometimes it’s been through tears. Sometimes it’s been with eyes wide open. Mercy. Lord, have mercy on me.

Now let’s look further down the chapter at verse 12.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

Isn’t our greatest plea for mercy answered most wholly with restoration? And the most wonderful restoration of all, which is the restoration of the joy from God’s salvation. We see that joy of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 and numerous other  New Testament verses attest to that. The latter half of the verse asks God to grant us a willing spirit to bolster us on. How can we be assured of that?

We just have to read verse 17. Here, David illustrates the sacrifice that pleases God, and shows his heart of hope:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

When we have those moments  when we’re about to fall into that pot of boiling water, so to speak, or even trials of more temperate natures, a broken and contrite heart and a sincere prayer to be upheld and given a willing spirit, is heard by the God of lovingkindness and steadfast love. Our broken spirit, our broken and contrite, sorrowful heart is the evidence of and the reason for our cry for mercy. And it is answered in the restoration of forgiveness and the assurance of joy that comes from knowing Christ, our salvation.

Then, we might just realize anew that God can bring something good even out of boiling water trials. (img_3175Remember James 1 and Romans 8:28?) Sure, our dinner was tasty, but I mean something more. Deeper faith. Wisdom. Remembering God is good and faithful even in hot water times. Remembering Jesus Christ is our deepest, truest joy in all times.

 

Thursday To-Do’s and Too Many Tabs

Do you head out the door to work most mornings? Today is my one day off from work this week. Ahhh… I awoke at the usual early hour and was thankful for a warm shower and a calm morning. Then I remembered:

It’s my ONE day off!! And we are moving in ONE month!

I intended to get busy, but before I could make a To-Do list (my normal house management modus operandi), I noticed that our dog, Teddy, had gotten sick on the living room area rug. That trumped making a list and was definitely Job Number One. Soon, the rug was clean and Teddy seemed fine.

On a roll, I put away some clothes carelessly heaped on the floor in our bedroom. Then I washed a few dishes, stamped a letter to mail, and made a couple of phone calls. Next, I sorted through and organized some papers and made list of other papers I needed to find.

Now, I’ve had my share of rapid breathing, walking in circles, and even tears when faced with disorder and chaos. But there I was, sipping my morning grapefruit juice and listening to a favorite speaker’s message on the local Christian radio station, and in that moment, I felt a sense of peace and order even amidst the chaos on my kitchen counters and the piles of yet-to-be-packed boxes lurking in the basement. And no, my eyes weren’t closed! Only God can do that. Only the peace of Christ passes understanding and lists our vision above the chaos and despair.

So today, I will NOT make my normally overwhelming To-Do list. I will NOT fret over the number of tabs I have open on my laptop. I will NOT stress over the myriad things to do, pack, mail, or write. I will simply hold on to the anchor of my soul spoken of in Hebrews 6~the person and saving work of Christ~and strengthened by the peace He gives me~by that right relationship with God through the cross and the tomb~I will do the next thing. (John 14:27)

That anchor, that peace can be yours, too. Let’s purpose to hold onto Christ, our soul’s anchor, come deep trouble or high water. Let’s remember Jesus’s words, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)