Apr 12, 2017

Blossoms and Thorns | the Love in Easter

I've always loved spring.  The warm breezes melt the snow, and tiny, green buds start to grow.  The world turns from dull shades of grey and brown to vibrant greens and pinks and whites.  I've watched spring showers fall on tender, newborn grass.  The air is pure.  Our animals begin to give birth - lambs, kids, chicks, calves.  The world is just so new, so fresh.

One thing always stood out to me.  I would walk down to the creek by our house that sang its merry song and sit among the flowers.  Always flowers.  Golden dandelions, wild daisies, violets - purple and white, maroon trillium flowers, and my favorite - pale, purple phlox.  The phlox has the most fragrant scents, and their violet colors cluster the forests.  I would pick bouquets and smell them over and over again.

But we moved.  We have different birds, plants, flowers.  I found daisies aplenty, budding trees, and thousands of dandelions.  But no phlox.

I visited out old home and found the flowers in full bloom.  There was a sense of love there, and I could almost feel God's arms wrapped around me.  Listening to the creek bubbling by my feet and watching the phlox's gentle colors...I took my New Testament and read the story of Jesus' crucifixion.  His love was so close to me.

I came home.  School started hard again on Monday, reading more than an hour of history about World War II.  Pages are lined with death, pain, and war.  I felt distracted during my time with Jesus.  Where had that Love gone?  That pure, beautiful presence?  And why would God allow something as horrible as war to exist?

Finally, history was finished, but I had other things to do.  I wanted to catch up on emailing, write a blog post, spend time with siblings...but instead I knew I needed to spend more time with Jesus to refocus.  Thus, I grudgingly grabbed that New Testament again and trudged down to our new, little creek.  Through the woods, the branches grabbed at me.  I brushed off bugs and looked for a place to sit down.

And there they were.  Waving in the wind happily at me.  I felt so far from God, and He was there all along.

Patches of violet-colored phlox lined the creek as if waiting for me.  I was so distracted by life that I almost missed them.  God's love shown in little, purple flowers.

I sat down to read 1 Corinthians 13, replacing the word "love" for "God".  And how true it is.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not God, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not God, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not God, it profits me nothing. 
God suffers long and is kind; God does not envy; God does not parade Himself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
God never fails.
 Did you read that?

God never fails.

When we are so distracted, and we wonder why bad things happen in life, God never fails.  When we can't feel His presence and think that maybe Christianity isn't what we thought it would be, God never fails.  When we are broken and hurting and the rain is pouring down on our lives, God never fails.

And then, sitting by the merry stream, I saw another sign of God's amazing love for us.

And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands. - John 19:2-3
Think about it.  God has given us so much.  He put the purple flowers there for our pleasure.  Everything around you - the beauty of nature, the song of the chipping sparrow, the friend who makes you smile when life is hardest, the emotion that pours out of your heart - everything is a gift.   Everything is love.

Do you know how amazing that is?!

The God of the universe love us and placed us here in a beautiful world to enjoy Him forever.  He allows us to have a relationship with Him.  He never abandons us; He never fails.

And what did we do to repay Him?

We scourged, mocked, spat on, struck, and crucified Him.  We weren't there when it happened, but every time we ignore His commands, isn't it the exact same thing?  Our Savior died for us, and we mock His sacrifice by living in sin!

Easter is a beautiful celebration of His love.  It's a time to remember that He cared for us enough to leave His palace in Heaven to come to a sin-stricken, disease-infected earth.  He took broken hearts and wove them into valiant warriors.

That is how much He loves us.

As Easter comes close, remember that love.  Remember the thorns, the pain, and the death.  Remember that God never fails.  He is our strong tower, our shelter, our Savior.

I have disabled comments for this post because I want you to focus on Him alone this week.  Please meditate on His love and realizing how awesome it is.  Read Isaiah 53Matthew 27John 19 or one of the other Gospels that explains His sacrifice.  Realize how perfect His love is by reading 1 Corinthians 13.

The only gift we can give back to Him is our undivided love, attention, and lives.  Are we willing to give that to the One who gave up His life for us?
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  -Isaiah 53:5