Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gloating and Tulips and Godliness

Fall in the desert is the beginning of Gloating Season. It's rather fun to call my friends back home in the Pacific Northwest: "Oh, I'm sorry you had frost this morning--it's 75 here today and the kids played outside for hours." Of course in the summer when it was 115 here, my friends in the Northwest were cool and comfortable.

Gloating Season comes again in the spring, but that is the season when I miss home the most. I miss the adventure of coastal weather, the rainbows and the blossoming trees, but most of all I miss the flowering bulbs: daffodils, crocus, and tulips. A year or two after we moved here, I really wanted to recapture a spot of Northwest spring, so one March day I bought a pot of tulips and set it in the window box outside my kitchen window. The very next day they were wilted, and I realized that tulips were simply not designed to endure seventy degree days. I've read that if you want to make bulbs grow and bloom in a warm climate, you must dig them up and store them in your refrigerator for a certain length of time. The cold is necessary for the blooms.

In our spiritual lives, growth and fruit are often formed through trials--we might describe them as the chilly seasons of life. In fact, in the book of James we're told that the trying of our faith produces patience. I've heard Christians say that we should never pray for patience because God will answer us by sending trials. I can understand a bit of the logic behind this idea, but I am not sure that it takes into account the wisdom and love of God. He wants what is best for us and what will bring glory to Him. I cannot believe that He has a stockpile of trouble He's just waiting to pour on us if we pray the wrong prayer. We know that He wants us to pray for godliness (and patience is an ingredient of godliness) and I believe that we can trust Him to follow His good plan for us. Trials will be a part of that because we live in a fallen world, but God in His grace and wisdom speaks to us through the tough times, using the chill of trouble to produce beautiful blooms of godliness. If God has prompted you to pray for a certain character quality, a specific fruit of the Spirit, or godliness in general, rest assured that He is working within you, and He has already arranged the circumstances you need to bloom. He will be with you every step of the way, whispering His words of live in your ear. Pray confidently!

I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-10)

--adapted from my book Sacred Signposts

1 comment:

  1. I just read that this morning. :-)