This weekend we will celebrate Easter. In just a few weeks it will be Mother’s Day. There is not much of a connection between the two, but I think a very common Mother’s Day reality can help us see a deeper dimension to celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.
Many if not most moms have had the joyful delight of a precious little toddler coming to you with a hand full of flowers that they picked for you. Sometimes they are weeds with bright colors. Sometimes they are wildflowers that grew on their own. And sometimes they were taken without a shred of malice from a flower bed or garden belonging to you or a neighbor or a park.
Even if you’ve never experienced that moment, you can imagine that joy when a little child brings you something as a tangible expression of a love they can hardly begin to understand.
But most of us have been on the other side of that exchange. We have found something pretty or unique that we bring to our mom just because we love her. That is a joyous moment.
The funny thing is that we didn’t grow those flowers. We didn’t plant the seed or see to their watering or fertilize the soil. We didn’t pull away the weeds that would choke them out or anything of the sort. We just saw them and gathered them and brought them.
But isn’t it a delight to see Mommy smile and the tears form in the corners of her eyes because we thought of her when we saw these beautiful flowers?
That’s a nearly universal experience. I think it’s the kind of thing Paul was expressing to his dear Thessalonian church when he wrote these words:
“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” (1 Thess 2.19)
As Paul writes to these precious friends, his children in the faith, I see in his words the joy of a little child with a fist full of brightly colored plants in his grubby little hand.
I see the dirt-smudged face beaming and the “look-what-I-found” wonder in his eyes and the “see what I brought for you?” in the rhythm of the stubby little clumsy legs that can’t go fast enough for the heart pushing them along.
Can’t you just see his hat on sideways like something from a Norman Rockwell painting or a Little Rascals episode as the spot of jelly on his chin gleams in the sunshine? And he awkwardly and adorably runs with his flower-filled hand outstretched to bring his precious gift, his offering, his “joy or crown of boasting.”
You see, your spiritual growth and mine—our sanctification, as Paul calls it—has never been about you and me. It’s about the others we bring with us.
Jesus is coming back. He is coming back to do in and for us what he already did himself—to overthrow the power of death and raise us to a new and everlasting life. That’s why his resurrection is something to celebrate so passionately. It means death no longer has any lasting power over us. It is the proof that he is coming again to do the same for us.
And when he comes, the people we have brought along on the journey and helped along the road will be the gift that we run stumbling and bumbling and snot-nosed and smelly to bring Him.
Like flowers for mom.
Father, open my eyes to see the beauty of every wildflower around me so that I might bring them joyfully along.