Monday, April 4, 2016

Yep, this is my lawn...

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…and it has a story to tell.

I looked out on a recent morning and noticed the beauty of the back lawn with blooming lantana in the background. I thought about the significance of this as I realized how much I continue to learn about life through the dual lenses of nature’s beauty and the Bible.  It struck me that, less than two decades ago, this strip of ground was nothing more than barren desert land. In a world of internet access that allows us to quickly look up people and events from millennia in the past, two decades is like the blink of an eye. The interesting thing about this lawn is how it came along and replaced hot, arid, desert soil crawling with scorpions, rattlesnakes and gila monsters.

Before I go there, I must quickly acknowledge that some of my friends would rather see the untouched desert than focus on the little oasis that is our yard. “Keep the earth in it’s natural state,” they would say. Who could disagree with them, at least when it comes to sunset-drenched skies and the view of miles and miles of desert blossoms following rare rains?  Still, my yard calls me at times to deeper truths. Insights of how God designed our human lives to work are to be found in the simplicity of lawns and flowers.

For instance, did you realize that the desert was the Biblical place where God took people so that He could work on them and prepare them for something better ahead?
  • Moses spent 40 years there when he ran from Pharaoh (Exodus 2), then another 40 years there with Israel. God was preparing his people for the land of promise.
  • Elijah experienced a great victory on Mt. Carmel, then ran from wicked Queen Jezebel, going to the desert to hide. When he got there, he heard from God and it prepared him for the completion of his life's work.
  • Jesus was sent into the desert after his baptism and was tempted there by the devil. This helped prepare him for his earthly ministry.

No matter how much you might like the desert, it isn’t described in Scripture as the place to long for. Jeremiah (17:6) compares a person who puts his trust in the wrong things as being like a bush in the desert. On the other hand, Paul described those who follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:9) as “God’s field.” God’s preferred destiny for my life and yours is as cultivated land — not desert.

The real story about my lawn today compared to the desert of a few years ago is the story of some soil preparation, some seed, a blessedly small amount of water, some fertilizer and some sunshine. It’s the story of work, more consistent than hard. It’s the story of preparation for the good and the beautiful to grow and the occasional pulling of weeds that would quickly take over if they could. It’s the story…the picture…of life.

I thought of our lawn as I thought about a critical element that must be present for God to convert our hearts from dry, desert places to places teeming with life. That element? Forgiveness! It begins with the forgiveness we get when we place our faith in Jesus’ completed work on the cross. He died to take our place and pay for our forgiveness. Sadly, that beginning is as far as it goes for some people. Some are happy to receive forgiveness, but resistant to extend it to someone else. What could have been a joyful, beautiful heart is quickly dry and barren again. Sadly, some never allow themselves to fully experience the abundance that Jesus offers them.
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We are learning to live transformed lives at Stone Ridge Church during our “Spring Cleaning” series. The power and importance of forgiveness is essential for us to fully realize God’s gift. That’s our topic this weekend and you don’t want to miss it! Can’t be there? Catch the podcast?

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