by Rev. John H. Farmer
Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website
Ah, Mid-June Already
This is such a wonderful place to live! I feel truly blessed to be here, to be among you weekly and to be loved by so many great friends.
Often, I have mentioned how my demeanor changes when homeward-bound I turn left at the Harmony Grove Baptist Church. Once the wheel has straightened a determination takes over. Duty propels me to the southern end of the endlessly repairing Robert O. Norris Bridge. At first glimpse of “my” river I will audibly exclaim, “I’m back Mr. River (i.e., “Old Man River”). Did you miss me?” There was a time when I was not so bold as to say it aloud. However, the grandeur of this place and the love of these wonderful people pulls it from me, no longer timid with such an exclamation. These days even grandson Porter joins in to greet Mr. River.
I love the bloom of this place, the smells that invite. The fragrance of roses, lilies and yes, even the musty dank aroma of a saltwater marsh delight. Please take a bit of time this week and reacquaint yourself with our garden of God.
A brisk walk through Holy Script reminds me that the word bloom appears several times, lily (and/or lilies) more frequently. In fact, some of the Psalms (45, 69 & 80) translate “as according to the Lilies.”
The word flowers appears in scripture often. Almost always, it refers to the potential of a harvest to follow. Flowers are even touted as nourishing (in the Apocryphal text 2 Esdras 9:24-12:51, texts that many evangelicals, some Protestants avoid).
Holy men and women of old that remembered our paths to the Holy Land noted the word “green” scores of times. At each reference, it is so lush as to call one forth, to stop in amazement, or its very removal, a harbinger of failures to obey God who would then withhold such a blessing. High among our memory reverberates the words “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Even at times of our worst droughts we live in a verdant garden of magnificent proportions. The Psalmist would have fainted with glee at the very thought of a world so fertile as ours, here.
Returning to the Gospels for a few resources we find in both Matthew (6:28) and Luke (12:27) rest this fabulous admonition of God. When disciples and followers alike press Jesus for this and that. When concerns of the human heart turn to self-preservation, to personal privilege, Jesus counters. Our savior said, “Consider the lilies; they neither toil nor spin…. Yet, I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.”
Life, over these past few months, has been so busy for me that I perhaps have failed to inventory just how beautiful is our homeland. My calendar has slackened. I find my eyes less star-filled, though my heart bursts with pride at all God has done for me lately. Here I am living in so wondrous a place, where God has given me such a precious family. I am grateful. Wow! “God is so good, he’s so good to me…”
Along the margins of multiple fields bloom blue cornflowers (bachelor buttons). Many a cornfield, many a bean patch, holds arrangements of morning glories. These precious little vines decorate our mornings with such beauty. Along outhouse, tool house paths, fencerows and gardens alike, lilies bud. The promise of bloom is but hours away. I can’t wait. Though wait I must. God often holds secure for us things that we know to be beautiful. He holds them tender until we need them the most. Our very best blessings he has promised to withhold until we are through with this special place and gathered home with him.
As beautiful is our world, as fragrant are our fields, as fertile are our gardens, God holds up a mantle of beauty as more important still. From the Garden of Eden, through the lilies of the fields, he enjoys his creation. I have this scene branded into my consciousness of God resting from his creation and counting the blessings his hands have wrought. I see him patting the fawns that nibble on the early dew-covered tips. I hear his chuckle as he counts the groundhogs waddling her and there. I feel the power of his hand pushing the tides to and fro.
In the midst of all God has created I hear him loud and clear saying of us, you and me, “I like them the best.”
Breathe deep. Find your most beautiful mental image. Locate your most appreciative memory collectible. Find your window grand. Place above it those same words. Look into the mirror. Glance at pictures of friends and loved ones gone. Hold the hand of some significant other creation of God. Languish in how very much God loves us. Share that love this week. It will beautify your soul.