The gardener and his helper.

It is getting quite toasty in these parts, these days. We don’t have daylight savings here, so most people’s days begin rather early.  It isn’t uncommon to see people already working hard at their daily tasks, while it is still rather early…..partly to make the most of time before it gets too hot, and because they are most likely going to be awake and up anyway.

Last week I was on my way home from dropping my two oldest boys at school, and I was stopped at a red light at a major intersection.  Whilst stopped, I began watching two people in the gardens of a church I was outside of.  One of the men was getting on in years.  Wearing a broad-rimmed hat, with long, neatly pressed trousers and a short sleeved shirt, and working boots.  He looked familiar with his work, and careful and tidy.  Let’s call him Mr Neat.  Mr Neat was mowing the lawns.  Standing reasonably close to where Mr Neat was working, was another man.  The gentleman also looked like he was getting on in years, only he looked dishevelled.  He was wearing way too many layers for what the temperature called for, he looked like he could have had a nice wee appointment with a barber for both his head hair and his facial hair, and he looked like he rather enjoyed his food, and he just seemed like he was in need of some extra care.  Let’s call him Mr Scruffy.

Mr Neat was the one who was doing the bulk of the work.  Mr Scruffy was close to him, watching him with ease.  There seemed to be a familiarity between the two, but from my simple observations I didn’t get the feeling they were related.  I got the feeling that if the two men were related, Mr Neat would have been the type of person to make sure Mr Scruffy wasn’t overdressed.  He would have seen that Mr Scruffy had clean hair.  You know what I mean?

So anyway…..Mr Neat was doing the lawnmowing, then he finished up the patch he was working on, and as he was doing that, Mr Scruffy opened up a gate, and walked the lawnmower through to a another area, while Mr Neat followed behind him.  Mr Scruffy looked pleased as punch.  He was helping.  I couldn’t hear any dialogue between the two men, I couldn’t see them talking, but there just seemed to be this natural flow between the two, as Mr Neat stepped back and let Mr Scruffy do something that obviously made him very proud, but Mr Neat followed very closely.  Ready to correct, help or intervene if needed.

Then my light turned green and the flow of traffic surged forward so I had to leave my observations and carry on my merry way.

But for however long this little vignette took, I was captured by it.

And then I felt the Lord speak to my heart.

In the picture I had just witnessed, Mr Neat represented the Lord.  He’s in control, he’s got things sussed.  He is the master gardener.  He’s tidy and organized, but he has his sleeves rolled up and he’s ready to do business.  And I am the Mr Scruffy.  I’m messy and uncomfortable in myself – yet God has no trouble with me coming near to Him.  I’m overdressed and ill-prepared for come what may, but God doesn’t look twice at that.  I’m more than happy to be near the Lord and to sit and watch Him at work, and when I’m ready to take flight, when I’m ready to action upon what I’ve been asked to do, God’s right there, right behind me, ready to intervene if needed, but urging me on, like a proud Daddy watching his baby girl walk for the first time…And you know God really isn’t looking for talent and ability, or presence or a certain personality type – He’s just looking for obedience.  If Mr Neat was worried that Mr Scruffy didn’t have the goods to really help, he wouldn’t have let him take over controls of the lawnmower.  But he did.  He, quite simply believed in him, definitely when others wouldn’t.

What an amazing God we serve…..always at the ready….in charge but let’s us ‘help out’ when we feel we can or should….

And you know what happens when a master gardener is given permission and freedom to do what they do best?  When they have ample resources and man power to put into their project?  Beauty happens.  Significant change happens.  Something that was dead, and ugly and lifeless is made attractive and brings joy to many.  Imagine what would happen the more we work hand in hand with our Master Gardener……just imagine…..

What a touching scene I witnessed that day, at that red light.  I pray that God blesses that Mr Neat in real life, and may Mr Scruffy always find acceptance and love, on those church grounds.

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Five Minute Friday: Beyond

Five Minute Friday

 

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write.  Simply write.  So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

Start.

Beyond.

There’s always something, someone needing us.  The lists and expectations ever present.

There are always bigger conversations around us.  The need to see the needs of the world, beyond our kitchen windows.  The constant arguing, yes arguing over issues such as women’s and men’s roles in the church.  Words that are mis-read.  Words that are misunderstood.

So much time, going over and over the same issues.  If not the issues of our own immediate worlds, then the issues of our greater communities.

I wonder if it grieves our Lord’s heart?

These distractions that cause our sister to rise against sister.  Brother against brother.

For there is so much more, beyond the differing of opinions.

Souls.

Souls that need Jesus’ love.

Souls that are not helped by small and inward looking lives.

Beyond.  Beyond the distractions.  Lord I want to leak and ooze with love.  Beyond my limitations.

Stop.

A valuable lesson

Thick, white bread with a consistency like cotton wool was a once a week treat. Chocolate cake was about a twice a year treat.  I played outside where streams of raw sewage would flow, and diaper-less children would squat any which way.  Corners were places for beggars – hands stretched out, eyes downcast.  My first movie was not ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty’ but ‘Chariots of Fire’.  Brown paper wrapped parcels would arrive with much fanfare, after having travelled across many seas.  The contents of them was not candy and treats, chocolate or clothes, no…those parcels contained vitamins and medicines.  I hand-washed clothes for play, without realizing it was the only option we had, and when I checked my bed for snakes at nighttime, it wasn’t part of a game.

Fast forward 26 years.  I still remember the sights, the smells and the sounds of living in such a different culture.  I don’t begrudge my time in that place at all – in fact I’m the only one in my family who has been back to visit.  I love that I know how blessed we are, in every way, in the first world culture we live in.  Sometimes I catch myself rolling my eyes at the first world problems that surround ourselves here.  Sometimes it makes me giggle.  Sometimes it makes me groan.  And sometimes I feel like shaking people and sending them on the first plane out of here……to smellier, dirtier, hungrier nations.

All this to say I have the benefit of experience.  I can compare and know, really know, how very blessed we are.  So I should know better….

The other day I was driving home from somewhere.  And God spoke to me.  God speaks to me most in the shower and in the car.  On all accounts I should be a very clean but very distracted driver.  I was coming home from being in a very gorgeous home and I allowed that thought of ‘I really loved that home and its beautiful decor, I wonder if I will ever have anything like that’ to linger just a bit too long.  You know what I’m talking about.  That thought just didn’t pop into my head and pop out…but it attached itself.  UNTIL, a few minutes later (while I was still driving) God gently spoke these words to me….’You’ll never know what they sacrificed to get their house and belongings’.  GAH!!!  Talk about a slap in the face.  Thanks God – its true – you never know what people sacrifice in their personal/ private/ spiritual lives.

Anyway – I thought that was that for that thought.  I thought it had been dealt with.  Not so.  The next day I was doing a quick clean of the house and noticing ALL the stuff everywhere that shouldn’t have been everywhere and the fact that the sofa had been drawn on again etc.  And I found myself saying the words aloud ‘We don’t deserve nice things, even if we had them, we would just ruin them’.  And as soon as those words were out of my mouth, I wanted to take them back.  I didn’t mean them.  I know what I value the most in life – and things certainly aren’t them.  I believe we should all hold ‘things’ very lightly in our hands and if someone needs something we have – then the best way to show God’s love is to give give give.  Not keep keep keep.  This is what I believe.  Then why the ugly words and ugly thoughts?

All because I had allowed that thought (of envy – let’s call it what it is) to take up residence – even if it was just for that short amount of time.

I was so upset at myself for thinking and saying those things…that once again while in a car….God spoke again to me on this subject…..’Don’t waste precious time on things’.  And he reminded me of how brief our time on this earth can be.

I can look back at Facebook account and already I have had five Facebook friends pass away.  All due to different circumstances, but five people, all of them younger than 30, in fact all of them younger than twenty five.  Life can be short.

I have no idea how much time on this earth I have.  But I no longer want to even entertain thoughts for mere minutes on the subject matter of stuff.  Stuff stuff stuff.  Sy Roger tweeted this thought yesterday – ‘Why waste time envying my neighbor’s ‘greener grass’: God wont give it to me. Better that I appreciate & cultivate my own patch of potential’.

Cultivate my own potential.  Yep.  That’s what it is about my friends.  Appreciate your most valuable assets – your family and friends and giftings God has given you, and then cultivating them.  Reaching up and out.

In the eyes

He was a tall man yet he stood short.  His shoulders weighed down as if he carried many burdens.  Although it was a cold morning he wore only one layer.  His clothes were not dirty, yet they were ill-fitting.  The man had no arms.  His shirtsleeves were flapping in the breeze.  Although my heart jumped when I saw that he had no arms, what made me cry were his eyes.  He was looking at something, but saw nothing.  His eyes were completely devoid of life, lacking in spirit.

Flip the scene for a moment.

What would this homeless man have seen in me?  He would have seen a happy woman, surrounded by her family.  Full of life.  Keen to see all around her.  Did he see compassion?  Did he see love?  Did he see Jesus?

How I long for ‘Jesus eyes’.  How I long for people to see Jesus in me with my every glance, and my every giggle.

Have you ever been around someone with ‘Jesus eyes’?  Do you know what I mean?  That special someone has that God factor living and breathing in them, that beauty that radiates from the inside out and makes a stranger want to say ‘how are you different?’  I have had the privilege of being around some people who just love to hang out with God, so much that it oozes out of them.  They have the God factor.  They have ‘Jesus eyes’.  I have also seen people who in the natural may be very plain looking, but you factor in that ‘God factor’ and they have an attractiveness that is amazing.  Do you know what I mean?

So I am on a quest for ‘Jesus eyes’ and I am on a quest to have the attractiveness of the God factor all around me….and the only way I know how that can happen is by seeking the Lord, spending time with Him. More time in the Word. Upping the ante.  Committing to a deeper and stronger relationship with Him.

An amazing song \’Give me your eyes\’

‘If your eye is pure, there will be sunshine in your soul.  But if your eye is clouded with evil thoughts and desires, you are in deep spiritual darkness’  Matt 6:  22,23.