My Blooming Friends

My quiet time out on the porch this morning was extra sweet. There was a slow, gentle rain falling. I found myself distracted by the daisies that are in full bloom. I planted those daisies a few years ago. Every year they come back a little stronger with a few more blooms.

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As I was reflecting on the beauty of these simple flowers, my phone was buzzing every couple of minutes. The string of birthday greetings by Facebook and text message had cranked up and old friends, many I haven’t seen in some time as well as some that are everyday fixtures of my life right now, began to scroll before my mind in a cascade of blessing.

In the stillness of the morning it dawned on me that many of the relationships from the past, though not as close perhaps as once before, are much like those hearty little daisies that keep blooming year after year. They show up and brighten my day, even when I walk from the car to the front door with my head hanging under the weight of so many cares for so many loved ones. They remind me that moments invested in the lives of others are never wasted.

You see, when we walk through life and allow God’s grace to flow through our obvious brokenness, that grace drips like water on the relationships we make and that watering so often shows itself in moments here and there – moments of encouragement, of comfort, of celebration and sympathy, of joys multiplied and heartaches divided.

I have more than a reasonable share of friendships that, though perhaps not cultivated and even lying dormant for years, pop up with blooms of joy from time to time. I don’t have a great deal of material wealth in this world, but I count myself the very richest of men. For in whatever circumstance that may come about in my life, I shall never face a day without a friend.

As Paul said to his dear friends in his letter to the church at Philippi, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”

Thank you for enriching my life.

He Nailed It.

It’s been a hard season in our neck of the proverbial woods. There have been so many heartaches and headaches and crises galore… and layoffs…collapses…and lives coming to an unexpected end.

And in the midst of the struggles I find myself reflecting on the perpetual question in hard times…”why?”

And as soon as I ask it the answer comes pounding through my mind. The world is a broken place because of the innate self-fixation that is a part of us all. And that makes me think about my own failures. My sin.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every bad thing that happens is the direct result of some poor decision or sinful choice or thought on my part. I am saying that the hard or bad things in this life make me very conscious of my sin.

But I’ve been exploring the passion week of Jesus over these last few weeks. That exploration coupled with this greater consciousness of sin has combined in another of those “soundtrack moments” that I write about from time to time.

This time the song doesn’t show up on my easter-themed playlist. It’s ┬ánot even the chorus or hook of a song. It’s the third stanza of a classic hymn:

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought

My sin, not in part, but the whole

Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

“It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio G. Spafford

I can’t get over this lyric and the profound truth it reflects. In the midst of this powerful hymn that resounds, “It is well with my soul,” the author recognizes that, despite the tragic reality of this human existence, it truly can be well with my soul because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.

Pipe dreams, you think?

Horatio Spafford, as he wrote that song, had just crossed the place on the Atlantic Ocean where his wife and daughters had been shipwrecked just a few weeks prior and only his wife survived. He knew the heartache that is a natural part of this life and is the byproduct of this sin-cursed world.

Yet, those words… “Oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!” How he rejoiced to consider it! That thought, “my sin, not in part, but the whole is NAILED TO THE CROSS AND I BEAR IT NO MORE,” stirs the greatest recognition in my soul of a reality so far beyond the confines of this world.

My sin.

My sin is the reason life is hard. And my sin – the whole lot of it – has been nailed to the cross with Jesus and I no longer bear it.

I look around and see the heartaches around me…and I am conscious of my sin…but then, when I look for it, I always go back to Jesus.

He nailed it. All of it. Every last hideous drop. He nailed it to the cross and I bear it no more.

And, indeed, because of this truth, despite the chaos that seems it would swallow me up sometimes…it is well.

To Spend And Be Spent

Some things are simply spent when you use them. Other things you can re-use. We would probably be wise to pay attention to the difference between the two.

Some things, when they are spent, are simply translated into other things, other resources, or other economies.

A couple of weeks ago, we took our huge family to Kansas City to see a play. In one sense, there was a lot of money spent that will not come back to us. But, in a much greater sense, those funds were translated into memories and priceless time together. Every dime was invested in relationships.

I have found myself on many occasions thinking about the example of Paul the Apostle as he wrote to the Corinthian believers, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” (2 Cor. 12.15)

I have known people that modeled that sentiment, who continually spend their resources and their very lives pouring into, caring for, and looking after others. And, though I have tried to follow suit, I am still wrestling to overcome my own self-centeredness. Continue reading To Spend And Be Spent