What is the first thing you notice about this photo?
The vibrant green? The gentle lighting? The contrast between the riveting life against the somber clay?
I think it would be unnatural for me to dismiss any of those obvious, more appealing features in this photo; The cluster of tall, handsome vines in the front and the impression of similar newly flourished greens continuing further back confirms to me that spring has sprung and the earth is alive and very soon I will reap the fruit of my laboring patience.
But, in all honesty, what stood out to me in this photo was how my camera focused on the wimpy little vine just to right. There are plants towering over this tiny sprout. There is a continuation of more impressive greens behind this baby one; some shoots that are especially praise worthy for their achieved height considering the irregular (really quite impossible) weather we’ve endured the past few months.
I am glad for the success of the others and I know the fruit of their labor will be beautiful. But I am also very glad for the tiny one. Even if he joined the game late. Even if he was sewn in a less fertile spot, or honestly didn’t want to grow till now, I am very glad he decided to join the family.
“Even the least of these…” If the Shepard has one hundred sheep and if one wanders away, He pursues the lost and lonely. He follows the broken hearted. He looks past the fact that he has drifted away and looks at his heart and why he has drifted away. He doesn’t love the disobedient sheep more than the obedient ones, but understand; this is just the heart of God! To serve the lost, to give, to weep with the broken and to love where they are knowing that the kindness of God leads to repentance. Note: The kindness of God, not the persuasion of us.
I am humbled to think that it was the time when I was most broken and most rebellious that He came after me. The time when I was most lonely and most bitter, He tried to capture my heart. And on the flip side, I felt most useless, empty and angry when I lived a life with the mindset that I must ‘reach’ God. I know now that it is nothing that I do, but everything to do with the grace and humility of my Savior that He comes to me. Really He is always here. The Lord is softening my heart to be more aware. He wasn’t impressed by my devotions or involvement with my church or my efforts to be kind and patient to my siblings. I can’t really impress God with anything, actually. He only cares about my heart. He cared that I felt like I had to work so hard to have a relationship with Him. He cared that I believed the lie that I had to perfect my human nature before He’d have anything to do with me. I believe He probably let me squander for a little while. Indeed, letting me hurt is part of His kindness because when I was too tired to pray, or too broken to try and understand why nothing was ‘working’, and too hopeless to care about anything, that was when I was most susceptible to the truth. That was when I able to see the full beauty in Jesus Christ. I was most vulnerable to His love.
And now, I look ahead. I set my gaze forward not backward. I equip myself with scripture and stand guard against the enemy. The Lord is rebuilding my ‘walls’ (heart), and I must be educated of my vulnerability without falling back into the pitfall of self reliance. It is my job to guard what comes in and what goes out of my gates, but it is His job to rebuild something beautiful from the rubble; to bring something back to life from the ashes. The Lord is a God for making all things new!
As for the peas, I’m glad God used probably one of the most unassuming things to paint a powerful picture of what He is doing in me. I don’t like the sin in my heart and that is good! I’ve already tried to change by myself and that was where I went wrong. I am convinced that God changes the heart. And out of a truly changed heart, goodness, kindness, mercy, all of these things, will flow more abundantly.