I have been walking in my neighborhood, the same route for years now. Turn left at the end of the driveway and follow the sidewalk around the farm, back towards the pool, head towards the back entrance by passing the same brick homes and crossing the little bridge over the lake. I find comfort in doing what I know. I know what to expect, and I don’t have to think about directions, getting lost or mileage. Firmly holding onto the familiar.
I think that’s why change is so difficult. If I take a step in a different direction, or change the way I am moving, I don’t have certainty that everything will turn out ok.
One day, I was walking along one of my normal streets and I noticed the flowers along-side the road. I had seen them so many times before, but that day was different. I saw how exquisitely beautiful the… weeds were. The vibrant colors and delicacy of their structure and form, were just breathtaking. No one had planted these flowers. The seeds they came from, just happened to land in the perfect conditions to take root and grow.
It wasn’t like there was just one kind of flower. I began to count multiple different plants and flowers that seemed to share the roadsides and the fields. These places could have been left with a few grasses here and there, but God designed even the weeds to produce beautiful and fragrant flowers.
Matthew 6:28 … Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
I was struck by the care and creativity that God puts into the weeds. These flowers were just as pretty as the ones that I see in the grocery store. I decided that day that I was going to make a bouquet. Why not? Why not enjoy them a little more?
I went home and filled a few mason jars with water. I found the sharpest scissors I could find, and drove back to the part of the road that goes beside a lake.
Queen Anne’s lace and Red clover. The large purple blossoms popped against the greens and whites. I can remember picking the purple clover flowers when I was a little girl. We would put them in our bath, so that we could float with the flowers. I remember the honeysuckle that grew on the fence row beside my Grandma’s house. We would pick the flowers and pull out the center to taste that 1 drop of honey nectar.
Every time I clipped a flower, I felt like I was finding treasure. Before long, I had a small pile of flowers that were various shapes, sizes and lengths. Each had its own form of thorns, stickers or prickly stems. Self-Protection.
I carefully dropped their stems into jars of water in my car and drove back home. There I would arrange them in one large jar so that I could enjoy them. I’ve never taken a flower arranging class, but I consider myself kind of the artsy type! One at a time I added them and together they became a bouquet of beauty.
Matthew 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
God ‘s care and concern for us astounds me. He not only provides for us what we need, but He uses us to bring others what they need. The weeds on the side of the road become wild flowers, unexpected, extravagant and delicate. Their thorns are there, and can harm if you get too close. But aren’t we like that too? We all have incredible qualities, gifts, offerings that need to be given to others and enjoyed. But we are still broken with our sin nature. We have coping mechanisms, habits, attachment styles and selfishness that will self-protect and wound others if we feel threatened or inadequate.
But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
He always meets us with grace! We can be free, to be humble enough to admit our shortcomings and offer ourselves to Him, asking Him to do what He wants with our life.
The goodness that God calls forth as He takes us and transforms our inner person is unmistakable. The flowers do nothing to produce their vibrant colors, open petals or intoxicating, fragrance. They simply grow as they feed on the nutrients in the good soil, draw in the water and open up to the sun. Placement is everything in a flower’s life. The seed has to fall into good ground. What God makes of our hearts is of His doing…not ours.
1 Corinthians 3:6-8 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
When others walk by the road side and ignore us, God sees us for the beauty that He has created. He sees the thorns and knows the pain that we can cause. But He reaches for us anyway. Knowing that our thorns were woven together in the crown that was not only meant to mock His kingship, but expose his frailty. The wild thorns that once grew along-side the road, unnoticed, and used to draw blood from the Savior.
As He reaches down and picks you out of the ground, the thorns are there, but He has a place in mind for you. A jar, a vase, a holder that He will use to arrange you with other wild flowers blooming with purpose and beauty.
When we humbly say to Jesus, “I have thorns.” He gives us grace. It is by his grace that we are saved and called His beloved. He no longer wears a crown of thorns. He has a new crown and is calling us to be His. We are a strange dichotomy of blossoms and thorns.
The bouquets that we are placed in: our family, our neighborhood, our school, our church community, our workplace. We are together in tight quarters, with fragrant blooms and blood-drawing thorns. With our different backgrounds, personalities and gifts; together we become one arrangement that God can use to show His immense grace. As we give grace to each other, we become known as His children. Our grace-filled love for one another is the mark of knowing Jesus.
He places us in His vase and sets us on the table, the desk, the porch…to show His wild and glorious love for His people.
Wild- a (1) : not subject to restraint or regulation : uncontrolled (2) : emotionally overcome also : passionately eager or enthusiastic : going beyond normal or conventional bounds : fantastic wild ideas; also : sensational : indicative of strong passion, desire, or emotion
God’s wild love has taken me for quite the ride these last few years. I have been reflecting on how incredibly detailed He has been in His love. Giving me exactly what I need, but yet still allowing me to feel the pain and sorrow of this world. Keeping me close and aware of my need for him. Creating in me a dependency.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Wild love doesn’t let up. It doesn’t do what convention says to do. God has certainly not been conventional in His shaping of me. Trials and hardship have created fires that at times have seemed unbearable. But the refining work that God has done in my heart through crisis and even trauma has been undeniable. It was God who ministered to me when I was inconsolable.
- I cry aloud to God, aloud to God and He will hear me.
- In the day of my trouble, I will seek the Lord, in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying, my soul refuses to be comforted.
He comforted me. He was my secret place. For that, I am so grateful. I am a stronger person, more deeply rooted, different. More of who God created me to be in my inner, deeper self. I pray that I am more like Him, but I still fail all the time. I still have thorns.
For a long time now I have sensed God calling me not just to grow by the roadside, but to be used in a different way for His glory in places that I do not know. Have you ever felt like God was preparing you and growing you, but then something changes? A shift in your heart. The anxiety before that step forward and you are not sure about where it will take you.
Maybe He is prompting you to get to know a friend in a deeper way. A friend who has kept things on the surface, but you know that they long to be loved.
Maybe there is a decision you need to make that would change your world, your relationships, your role.
Maybe He has given you a big idea for a mission, a project, an organization that would meet a need and bring God Glory! But you are nervous that it won’t be received. Or you are afraid of what others might think. “Who does she think she is?!”
But no matter how much you have tried to delay, procrastinate or justify non-decision…the call is still there. God will not let it die.
— so you know who you are, right?
You are His beloved, chosen and wildly loved, arranged for His glory. What is it that God is telling you to do? What can you do to take the next step?
His Wild love for you will not stop and is uncontrollable. Passionately going beyond normal or conventional bounds!
What would it be like to follow the call of your God, who has picked you, holds you in spite of your thorns and calls you, “Beloved”?