As I child, I had no idea what kind of car my dad drove; I only knew that it was a white one. Both sets of grandparents drove blue cars, one of my aunts had a red car, and I presume that other members of the family drove vehicles that were various shades of each color associated with a rainbow. The differences between Fords and Chevrolets were of no consequence to me. I was more interested in how He-Man was going to foil Skeletor’s next attempt to conquer Castle Grayskull or whether or not I had what it takes to become a Jedi Knight. How long have I been a nerd? All of my life.
As I grew, my ignorance about makes and models improved. Armed with the ability to discern the kinds of cars people drive, I no longer have to tell them apart by their color. Sadly, I am still this way when it comes to flowers.
I love flowers. I really do. They adorn the earth with a breathtaking array of colors and remind us of the intricate magnificence of God’s splendid creation. Poets have written winsome words about their allure and people in love have utilized their appeal to express to the objects of their affections exactly how they feel. Flowers are sent to funeral homes to surround the caskets of those who have passed as a way of reminding those who mourn that if the deceased knew Christ then they are still living.
In spite of all of this and so much more, I just never learned the names of the various flowers. I guess that I am just not a flower kind of guy, but I do know when I see a flower of great beauty. A couple of weeks ago I saw the most astonishingly radiant flower I have ever seen and probably ever will see.
Recently I have been walking and jogging on some of the roads near my house in order to lose some weight which is strange considering that it is not January. January is the normal month that I try to lose weight in conjunction with my annual New Year’s resolution to do so and February is the normal month that I quit trying. This year, though, I tricked myself into sticking with the weight-loss plan by starting in March.
One day as I was walking, I noticed an unusual amount of garbage on the side of the road. Empty beer bottles, McDonald’s wrappers, Red Bull cans and the like were strewn here and there among dead and dying weeds. It was really a trashy looking sight. As I pondered on the reasons why so many people choose to be so negligent in keeping Earth half-way clean, I saw a sight that made me say “WOW” out loud even though I was all alone.
In the midst of the trash and dead weeds stood a yellow flower, full of grace and charm. I stopped walking for a few minutes and gazed at its beauty; thanking God for such a display of His majesty. We tend to praise God for the “big” things that He does like people being healed or being saved, but He also deserves praise for the smaller things like a beautiful flower in the midst of filth.
I guess it might be an exaggeration to proclaim that flower as the most radiant I ever have seen or will see. I’m sure that I have seen flowers at least as appealing as that one before. So, why did that particular flower cause such a reaction in my soul?
I think that the reason that this particular flower seemed so amazing was because it was surrounded by junk. Most of the other beautiful flowers that I have seen have had other beautiful flowers surrounding them. But the one that I saw the other day stood out dramatically in contrast to the trash and dead weeds that encompassed it.
The beauty of a thing is more easily seen when it is in a place that lacks beauty.
It seems to me that our world lacks not just beauty, but also love, forgiveness, gentleness, and so many other wonderful things. Those who follow Christ have an awesome opportunity to be as radiant as that flower was among the trash as we shine forth God’s majesty by displaying these attributes in a world that lacks them.
If Christians only congregate with other Christians, then our effectiveness in displaying God’s goodness will be diminished. But if we bloom where we are planted, no matter how poor the circumstances and surroundings are, then we will be better situated to bring glory to God by exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in a world that desperately needs to see them.
That flower was noticed and cause me to give glory to God because it was a thing of beauty in an ugly place. This world often displays its ugliness. Christ-followers can shine brightly as we do good works in hopes that others will see and give honor to our Father.
When have you seen beauty in an ugly place?