Sunday, July 01, 2007
Just Call me Sophora secundiflora
I am here to confess that a feel just a tad unworthy (perhaps more than a tad). I think that the "Reflection of Him" award is one of the most meaningful awards I've seen. I found it so difficult to pick five to give it to. Every time I would go to visit one of my dear blogger friends I wanted to add them to the five I had already picked. Truly - every single one of them blesses me in a special way. They are all deserving of this unique award.
It's me I'm not so sure about. I want to be sure that I am being "real" in everything I write on my blog. I don't want to come across as something or someone that I am not (and this is absolutely not a backhanded way of getting everyone to tell me how wonderful I am). I want you to know the real me - warts and all. Don't be alarmed. This is not a "tell-all" post. I have made some horrendous blunders in my sixty years, but they are - thankfully - under the blood of Jesus and mostly just between me and the Lord. Instead I thought I might try to use an analogy.
I have a little bush growing in our side yard. That's it in the above picture. It is a Sophora secundiflora - better known as a Texas Mountain Laurel. It blooms in the spring with those lovely blossoms you see pictured. Some Mountain Laurels grow into tall trees just filled with purple flowers and smelling heavenly (some remain more like a shrub). That was my plan when we bought it. I thought I would lovingly place it in the ground and in a few years have a beautiful tree.
It was just about a foot tall when I brought it home. I cared for it, providing all it needed for good healthy growth, and waited for my tree to appear. What I didn't know was Mountain Laurels are very slow growing - very slow. In the past ten or so years that is as big as it has gotten. The first few years there were no flowers at all. Then a few years ago it got buds all over its little branches. I got so excited. I couldn't wait to see and smell those flowers. Imagine my horror when I walked out one day to discover it had been descimated by caterpillers. No flowers that year. Another year it just didn't get any buds at all. Last year, however, it was filled with the beautiful purple flowers I had been longing to see. I was so proud, I took its picture.
This year I was looking forward to an even better show of flowers. We had good rains, and it had filled out and grown taller. I knew this was going to be a banner year. It is growing on the side of our house that doesn't have any windows, so I can't watch it all the time. I have to make a deliberate trip outdoors to check on its progress. One morning I walked cheerfully across the front porch and turned the corner to admire my lovely plant. I couldn't believe my eyes. The poor thing had been stripped naked by the deer (they had never bothered it in all the years I had it). There were only a few sad little leaves they had either not seen or gotten too full to eat. Another setback. There are leaves growing on the forlorn little branches again, but there will be no fragrant, purple blooms this year.
How very like my Christian walk. I was lovingly planted in a Christian home and came to know the Lord at a very young age. I had a wonderful beginning - receiving everything I needed to grow and be fruitful. However, like my little Mountain Laurel plant, I was a very slow grower - very slow. Oh - I knew all the right answers and could compete in a "Sword Drill" with the best of them, but I wasn't bearing fruit. There were periods in my life where I was descimated by things of the world - things I allowed into my life. Then there would be periods of new growth, new commitment, and I would flourish. But only for a time. There was no consistency. My walk with the Lord was the proverbial one step forward, two steps back.
Our Pastor has often asked the question, "How many of you commited your worst sins when you were a Christian?" My hand is always raised. It has taken me far too long to make the little bit of progress that I have made. I have kept the Lord at arms-length when He longed to draw me close. I have been deliberatley disobedient and downright rebellious. I have allowed selfishness to rule my heart.
It is only in recent years that I have finally surrendered, finally forgiven myself for the things in my life that make me so ashamed. The Lord has faithfully loved me through all of my missteps. I am putting our new growth just like my little plant. I want very much to grow strong, to produce beautiful blooms and to give off the sweet fragrance of the Spirit. It has taken me far too long to grow this much.
I have learned that nothing can separate me from God's love; that He is faithful; that without Him there is nothing - no joy, no peace, no hope, no life. His grace, His mercy, and His unconditional love overwhelm my heart. I am always drawn to old things that are flawed in some way - a chipped cup, a cracked dish, a stained quilt. They remind me that He can use me in spite of my flaws. He can mend the broken pieces and make me whole. He can make me new.
I just wanted you to know.