At this time of year at Ellel Scotland, lovely pots of brightly coloured flowers welcome you into the courtyard between the two main buildings. You can’t help but admire their vibrancy on the regular crossings from the house to the conference hall and back again. But what really caught the attention of those of us there last week were the pansies randomly growing through the stony ground below, standing tall regardless, with their pretty faces blooming so cheerfully.
Those in the pots had a great start in life: planted in the warmth of springtime in rich compost for their roots to sink down into and draw up nutrients. But those down below could easily be considered mere accidents, having come from seeds of last year’s blooms, haphazardly fallen to the hard ground, blown under stones and rained on, and then frozen in the icy, snowy winter of the Scottish Highlands.
When spring finally came, despite the constant comings and goings across the courtyard, no-one would have known those tiny, newly germinated seedlings were hidden beneath the stones. Unnoticed, they were unfed and unnourished like the nurtured ones. They would have been trodden on many times, and when they did begin to bravely poke their heads up above the ground they were probably mistaken as unwanted weeds needing uprooting and discarding in the compost heap, which could easily have happened except that, probably, nobody had the time to stop and bend down to them.
So, they survived! They survived wind and rain, ice, snow and neglect, yet there they were in late summer, against all the odds, shining like bright jewels on the stony ground, uncomplaining, undeterred, with their vibrant faces turned heavenward, giving glory to their Creator God.
How much He speaks to us and encourages us through His creation. You may not have had the best start in life, you may have been considered ‘an accident’ (though God never saw you as that), you may have been overlooked and not cared for or nurtured as God intended. You might even have been neglected and badly downtrodden on life’s journey. There is no doubting our Creator God’s deepest care and concern for the losses you have sustained, and His desire to bring His comfort and healing to your wounds, through the shed blood of Jesus.
But, oh the joy it brings to His heart, when one who has suffered hardship and adversity, the lowly one, the despised and shunned one, fixes their eyes on Him and, considering Him who endured such opposition from sinners, draws from Him the inspiration and empowerment, against all earthly odds, to shine for Him: celebrating the life He gave them, extending the hand of help to another or offering a kind word or encouragement that points someone else to Him.
This is the heart of God: as our verse for today tells us, He chooses the lowly things and the despised things to shine for Him, to bring light into the darkness of this world, to bring His message of hope to the hopeless, and freedom and abundant life to the lifeless. In so doing it
is so often those who have had the worst of starts in life, now turning their faces to Him, who give much glory, honour and praise to our Creator God, bringing much joy to His heart.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the inspiration and encouragement You have woven into Your creation. Please help me not to compare myself with others but to look up to You, to draw my inspiration from Your great love for me, and my enabling from Your Holy Spirit within me, so that I may witness the life of Jesus to others no matter where I’ve come from, and what my circumstances are today. For Your glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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