Our small group has just began a new series called Life with God put out by the Evangelical Center for Spiritual Wisdom. Really great stuff! I can get behind material that says the evidence of doing well in this study will not be evaluated based on what you learn about God but how you are changed by Him. Amen!
One of the things that is so refreshing about the material is our assignments. It's not answering a bunch of questions and/or facts. Rather the bulk of the material requires us to engage God in a creative and, perhaps for some, non-traditional way.
Our assignment was "to experience some of God's Sabbath this week by resting and reflecting on God's work in creation....Use this activity to reflect and ponder what impresses you about the nature of God as you consider His free gifts in the created world. How do they reflect God's goodness?"
I have to admit I didn't read this part of the assignment until the day of our small group at 8am!? So no time like the present. I laced up those sneakers and headed out the front door. What I was surprised by was how quickly with this intention behind my walk I was able to focus.
I walked by familiar settings--the creek, the freeway, the houses--but my eyes gravitated to the plant life all around me.
Look at this Dr. Seuss-like plant! "Well heeeeelllllooooo there--to you, and you, and you."
The more I walked the more I conversed with God about the variety and diversity He took great pleasure creating. I imagined he and Adam walking about Eden, talking about the various life all around, coming up with names and enjoying each other.
I definitely had my favorites, the ones I was drawn to more than others, but when I stepped back and looked at the collected whole it was beautiful. Each in it's own way, for it's own space.
My mind wandered back to my years in the desert. Where it seemed beauty, the way I defined it was sparse. Yet I also thought of the nuances of beauty I came to see and appreciate--the way light hit the hard ridges of the mountains, the cactuses in spring when they surprised me with their flowers, the little wildflower pockets sprinkled about....
Good. Created by God, placed in the geography they needed to be, a part of the collective whole.
Made me think of you and I...the collective church. God's people. God's colors. God's House.
How different we are yet the same. The Gardener has certain ways he must prune and take care of me. I am to be a certain person in the body, in the world, for the Kingdom. And you may be a different kind of plant or flower. To onlookers we may seem in totally different worlds the way we live out our faith---the church we attend, the things that interest us--yet when I step back and look with the eyes of our creative God, I can see how we are both part of the collective whole.
And it's good. Very good.
And God calls the garden of diversity good, very good.
So let's nurture that Garden and care for it with humble hearts, a teachable spirit, curiousity, and gratitude!