Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tulips by the Wayside

Tulips. A Spring Delight.
Spring is a beautiful time. Whether we are in the park, driving on the roads, or walking along the streets, we can easily glimpse a beautiful part of nature. Even flowers in the wild, long considered weeds are deemed pretty to look at. I enjoy the spectrum of colours. I marvel at the creativity behind the beauty. I ponder at the sights of nature that beg a question: "Can we ever explain beauty?"

No. Beauty is not to be analyzed or studied. It is to be admired and appreciated. Sometimes, the only way we can capture the scene is to snap a picture of it. Yet, as far as the camera is concerned, a photographic image is only in terms of pixels, resolutions, and a closely captured digital frame of bits and bytes. A picture may speak a thousand words, but that alone can never replicate the feelings and the awe of seeing the actual flower. I think about how the digital wave has transformed the world. We are communicating on Facebook more and more, as face to face chatting becomes less and less. We are rushing ahead on technological efficiency and scientific efficacy while missing out on personal interactions and relational touch. We are substituting the historical collections of printed books with digital scans or book reproductions on our electronic readers.
As I look at flowers, I think of how beauty is appreciated in the Songs of Solomon.
"Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land." (SS 2:13)
What if our Christian testimony is like the flowers that bloom when the season comes? Three things come to mind.

A) Blooming like Flowers

As Christians, we are called to be the salt and the light of the earth. We are to be living testimonies for Jesus. We are to let the love of Christ shines through in our daily behaviour, actions, and thoughts. Our transformed inner lives are to be catalysts of change in society. As flowers flourish their best in their best seasons, Christians can shine their best versions of Christ in their unique ways. The media may tell us otherwise, that Churches are full of hypocrites, and Christians are but morality police more interested in the heavenly realms more than earthly realities. Not necessarily. Christians can still bloom like flowers. Like the tulips, they show their presence to anyone who walks past. Like the flowers, they bring about a sense of peace and serenity to help people marvel at nature and creation. Being able to be at one's best is a mark of grace and beauty. It is witnessing at its best.

B) Growing Beautifully

Like the tulips, beauty enables the beholder to enjoy creation. There is no law against wanting to be beautiful and perfect as far as good living is concerned. Like the tulips, there are many beautiful shades of colour and floral combinations. If a Christian does a good work, there is no need to explain it. Likewise, as Christians grow to be like Christ, it not only encourages the Church, it motivates others to start wondering why Christians are doing what they are doing. Growing beautifully as Christians in Christlike ways is one of the most powerful witnessing Christians can ever do.

C) Making Beautiful Memories

As the saying goes, a face can launch a thousand ships. Likewise, a pretty flower can stimulate a lingering memory. Christians who do a good work can witness far beyond that one time sharing experience. The tulips do not have legs. Neither do they fly all over the world to talk or to manifest their presence. Even though they are largely stationary, by blooming and being beautiful where they are can instill a long memory in observers and passers by. Beautiful memories are generally cherished. They bring back a glimpse of a wonderful world. They point us to the hope of humanity. They lead us back to God. All conversions contain pockets of memories of how Christians have been used to touch one's lives. In fact, my own conversion is not one act of evangelism or witness, but a compilation of beautiful memories in my earlier years. Learn from the tulips. Let each season of our witnessing help store a spiritual thought, a lingering memory of what Christ has done for us.

Like the tulips, may Christians appear gracefully wherever they are. Live gratefully wherever they are. Show graciousness whenever they can.

"'Deep beauty' is the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn't wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants" (Elaine S. Dalton, "Remember Who You Are!").

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