But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility... Eph. 2:13-14

Monday, July 23

Flowers & Strangers

As promised, I haven't posted much this month. Life has been crazy! I really don't have time to be posting this, but I'd probably end up wasting this much time anyway, so I might as well attempt to use my time for something meaningful.

A voice says, “Cry!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
    and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
    when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:6-8

...because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
James 1:10b-11

I always read these verses and thought of the frailness of life, of how we live for such a short, relatively unimportant time, and then leave this world forever. But the other day as I was reading through Isaiah, I noticed the word "beauty" for the first time, and I started thinking. Scripture compares the life of a human with the life of grass pretty frequently, and it's a sobering comparison. But it never occurred to me that it might not be a bad thing.

Flowers are beautiful, especially wildflowers! I love to see fields where wild Daisies or Queen Anne's Lace, or Black-eyed Susans are dancing around with the browns and greens of grasses left to themselves. Really, few sights in creation have ever made me feel as happy and free as that one. But it's a view that I can never enjoy for long. If it doesn't end up in a haybale, the heat of Summer fries them to a crisp (which gives me yet another reason to hide in the air-conditioned house).

Like the flowers of the field, life is short, but, oh! so beautiful! Like a wildflower, there is a raw beauty to life that only its Creator could have given it. 

And like the grass, the end could come at any time, and is a certain thing. Maybe the flower will fall off just as the bud has begun to open, or maybe the grass will slowly wither away. Maybe it will be mown down unexpectedly, or maybe it will fade from the world long after it has faded from memory. 

The fact is, we don't know. Yet despite its uncertainty, death doesn't have to be scary.

Yesterday I hugged a flower who has been fading for a long time. That's how it happened, too. First she experienced the withering of age, and then she began to fade. Now she is sleeping, waiting to awake in eternity. 

As I watched her yesterday, I thought of a quote from the Silmarillion:
"But Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Il├║vatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy." pg. 42
Because it's true: God gave us a merciful gift when He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and the tree of Life. How horrible would that be, to live to the end of time? To die and die and die without ever being free from death? In this sin-soaked world, death is a gift.

Soon Grandma will pass away from this world, only to bloom in glorious eternity, where her beauty will never wither. For us, it is hard. While I'm happy for her, it's never easy to say goodbye when you're not sure when you'll see each other again. But while there is sadness, there is hope-filled joy. Someday we will worship God together in perfection. And when that day comes, it will seem like the time we were apart was the blink of an eye. 

Because Eternal Spring is coming fast.

Are you ready for that, little flower?