August 14, 2020
On Sunday morning, August 9, Kevin and I visited a woman who possessed a fantastic garden. She was selling succulents, and we were in the mood for purchasing so that we could spruce up (no pun intended) our backyard. We spent a lovely hour and a half perusing her massive backyard nursery full of various succulents in all shapes, sizes, and species. She had so many starter plants, and I didn’t know where to begin. She helped me by naming plants and showing me the differences. She explained watering and how to start and care for new plants. She offered to come over and help me work in my succulent garden. What a cheerful, knowledgeable, kind, and generous woman!
After hearing her story about how her husband of 24 years left her for greener pastures, I felt moved. I was saddened at the loss of her two sisters who succumbed to breast cancer in the same month. Then, she told me of her own fight with the same disease. I empathized with her over a shoulder injury and an arm that can’t be raised above her shoulder. As Kevin finished loading more succulents in the car than I thought we needed but wanted anyway, I felt the urge to pray for her. I asked her if we could do so. She welcomed our prayers with open arms. Although I thought our purpose was to buy succulents, our time spent in prayer for her became our purpose. A beautiful connection transpired that day.
We decided then and there to invite our new friend over for dinner soon. I’m excited for her to see our progress with our garden. I’ll look to her for advice on further gardening endeavors. We’ll share a lovely meal together, and our friendship will grow—a garden grown with love. A friendship tended and cultivated with kindness.
Our purpose, dearly beloved, may change day to day, depending on our circumstances and the people we meet. We may need to be a listening ear. We may need to be a shoulder to cry on. We may need to give advice, share in grief, spread cheer, make someone laugh, or brighten someone’s day with a smile. We may need to help carry someone’s burden, offer a meal, or lend a hand. We may need to mediate a dispute, care for a family member, help a neighbor.
Today, amid uncertainty in our country, fear of contracting a disease, and the need for human contact, we have a purpose. Let us use our words wisely, kindly, and effectively. Seeking opportunities to be light in a dark world.
While the whole world seems to be going crazy, when society is careening through Romans 1:18-32 (you can look up that one), we need to ask ourselves–how do we do this? Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
How, then, do we renew our minds? Not with social media, or by watching the news, not by worrying, fretting, scenario building, and anxious thoughts, but by choosing a better way. A way of truth and peace of mind. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” When the world is all about the desires of the flesh (see Galatians 5:19-21), let us manifest the fruit of the Spirit found in the following verses (22-23): “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things is no law.”
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Colossians 3:12-15 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another…And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…and be thankful.”
Take off the garments of the world and put on the garments of His Word, His Spirit, His Way. I love that “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28–His purposes, not our own. His way, not ours. His will, not ours.
What is our purpose in God’s plan? Some may think that this is a complicated question. It’s not. Meditate on the Bible–it gives us wisdom and understanding. Pray — stay connected to Him. Listen–He says His sheep hear His voice. He will provide us with direction. Be the hands and feet of Christ Jesus, where He prompts. Tell the Good News to those who will hear. Allow the Holy Spirit to manifest His fruit in our lives. Be kind, generous, humble, and patient. Listen for His urging, for sometimes, He might just want us to pray with a stranger.