Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Learning the Lesson

Sometimes it is easy to get focused on what is not happening in our lives as opposed to what is right under our noses. I have been focused lately on what I perceive as the slowness of God's movement in my next season of ministry. I had committed myself to not forcing anything to take place but rather to,"wait on the Lord" as the Scripture exhorts us to do many times. However, it seems that my spirit grew weary of waiting and I became somewhat depressed. In Mark's gospel, the disciples are distracted by the magnificent architecture of the temple. They are focused on the "big picture." However, Jesus tells them to refocus their attention as He declares, "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." (Mark 13:2b) The disciples are fascinated and Peter, James, John, and Andrew asks Jesus when this will happen and what signs will herald their fulfillment? Jesus goes on to answer their questions. (Mark 13:5-31) What I found interesting is that many of the "signs" that Jesus presents to them come out of everyday life and recognizable occurrences. Often I find myself looking for something extraordinary to happen to know that God is listening. Perhaps, I think to myself, some unusual cloud formation will appear or something so out of the norm that I know for sure it's from God. One of the signs Jesus spoke of caught my attention. "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door." (Mark 13:28-29) Scholars believe that the "it" Jesus was alluding to was His second coming. What connected for me is related to a poinsettia plant I received last Christmas. If you are familiar with these plants, their leaves are bright red and at some point lose their color and the remaining leaves turn green. I happen to like the vivid red color and had heard that you could restore the leaves to their original Christmas red. I went on line to discover how to do it. Basically, the method involves plunging the plant into total darkness for 14 hours a day. According to the instructions on line, the change in color would occur in about 8 weeks if one was consistent. I decided to use a dark garbage bag to accomplish the task. The project started out with good intentions but within a week became cumbersome. I decided to give up and was frustrated and saddened. I told myself that I would just have to live with the green leaves. However, about 2 months after I abandoned the project during one of my low spiritual and emotional moments, I went into our den one morning. To my surprise, there was one small leaf that was red! I immediately stopped and had to look a couple of times to believe what I was seeing! I felt God affirming that He was with me and the red leaf among the other green ones reminded me of Christ and the sacrifice He made for my sins and those of the world. Ironically this red leaf happened to appear just a week before the start of Lent. I came to understand that these small everyday "signs" were just as significant as some supernatural phenomenon. I had no real hope that the poinsettia plant would yield any red leaves again. Similarly, I was running low on hope that God would move me on to the next season of service for the kingdom. But just as Jesus told his disciples to "learn the lesson from the fig tree", in some way God was telling me to "learn the lesson" from the poinsettia plant. The lesson that the next new season of ministry in my life was near. So I will keep persevering and thanking God for His gentle reminders that the best is yet to come.
Pastor Sheree

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