In Season and Out of Season

Camellia

I was complaining to Phil recently about my camellia bush blooming out of season. “These beautiful blooms will all turn brown when it gets cold again!,” I fussed. “It is still winter and these flowers open up as soon as it gets warm.”

“Just enjoy them whenever they bloom.” Phil admonished me. “It doesn’t matter what season they bloom.” And this coming from someone who grew up thinking the four seasons were baseball, football, basketball, and hockey….

The more I thought about it, the more I realized Phil had a point. I LOVE the blooms of flowers. If I enjoy my camellia blooms in April, what is preventing me from enjoying them in December, January, and February, too?

Only my attitude.

They did turn brown two nights later, but I had already picked 5 and we enjoyed them in vases for a week. It was like a touch of spring in our house.

These early blooming flowers have also reminded me of God’s faithfulness and God’s desire that we be faithful.

Just as I should be thankful that the flowers are blooming instead of lamenting the timing, our Heavenly Father wants me to be ready to share the good news of salvation through Jesus whether the timing seems perfect or not. I need to be ready in season and out of season.

In II Timothy 4:2-4 Paul is encouraging young Timothy to be ready to share the truth of Jesus.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 

They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

These verses, written around 2000 years ago certainly describe our current culture, don’t they? I know that I am often guilty of not recognizing opportunities to share the Gospel because it is “out of season” – not the situation or timing I am used to or comfortable with.

I need to be ready in season and out of season.

I am so thankful for the encouragement I receive in my garden with God.

 

# In My Garden with God   24

 

 

 

Thankful, Tender Hearts

I wrote the following post in 2016. Yet I feel it is just as important today when I think about celebrating all I have to be thankful for. May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving.

“There are many people in our country and the world today that are suffering. The pain, fear,and loss they are facing leaves little room to be thankful.

Here I am, looking forward to the arrival of some of our children, grandchildren and friends tomorrow. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I enjoy the family gathering, the food, and the focus on being thankful.

Yet I know many are not blessed the way I am. Recently, friends from church lost their college aged son in a tragic accident. A school bus crashed this week causing the loss of five young children. What is there to be thankful for in these situations?

A dear young mother recently shared in our women’s Bible study group that she was dealing with reconciling the fact that –

God is good,

God is faithful,

Yet the pain of the loss of seemingly senseless death lingers.

We are studying Ezekiel, a challenging book heavy with judgement. Yet this young mother shared that she felt challenged by the following verse. Ezekiel 36:26 –

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

“Do the situations around me cause me to harden my heart, or soften my heart?”

When my young friend said this – I realized – that is the challenge for me as well.

Will I allow situations around me, and personal suffering to harden my heart? Will I allow God to give me a new, tender heart that is able to see and feel His presence in the midst of suffering?

We have much to be thankful for, yet the suffering some face is very real.

The book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte recounts that during a period of utter despair, Chesterton “was filled with both an enormous sense of thankfulness, and an enormous need for someone or something to thank.” (p. 218) This insight caused Chesterton to embrace Christianity. He went on to become a critic and writer that greatly influenced the lives of C.S.Lewis among countless others. “The test of all happiness” he wrote, “is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (p. 221) The defining quality of his life as described by his contemporaries was JOY. Thankfulness leads to joy.

Notice that it was “during a period of utter despair” that Chesterton came to the point of recognizing his need for God. He had a change of heart.

As we gather this Thanksgiving, let us remember to pray for those throughout the world who are suffering in loss and fear.

Pray that we would have tender, thankful hearts to experience God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of all we face.”

Good Work

Three of our grandsons helped load fire wood Saturday as part of Cullowhee Methodist Church’s service to the elderly in Jackson County. Volunteers cut wood, split wood, load the wood on trucks, and deliver it to folks all over the county.

What a blessing!

It is a blessing to those who receive wood, and it was certainly timely with the cold snap we are experiencing. But, it is a great blessing to all who work serving as well. I was so pleased to see four generations of folks represented among the volunteers.

Serving has no age limits.

Which leads me to the purpose of this post – good work.

Work can have a negative connotation for our children and grandchildren. “I have a job for you” is a statement that is often met with wails of distress from children who would rather be playing, reading, using an electronic device – anything but work. That same statement, “I have a job for you”, has a totally different response from someone who has been out of work and is LOOKING for a job.

Meaningful work is very important for us as humans. It gives us a reason to get out of bed each morning. We need a purpose.

In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul is explaining to the Church that we are not saved by the works we do, yet God does have work for us to do.

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God has prepared good work for each of us! Our attitude toward work is an example to our children and grandchildren.

  • are we thankful for our job?
  • do we see our job as a way to serve others, or just for a paycheck?
  • do we do our best at work, or just enough to get by?
  • are we honest, faithful, and joyful at work?

Working alongside our children and grandchildren is the best way to show them the blessing of work. These boys have worked with their Mom and Dad in the Hope Garden, a community garden which helps those in need.

Good work can be fun, especially when done together. Milkshakes afterward don’t hurt….