Friday, May 1, 2015

Green Grass

Hello guys! I can't believe the rains of April are over and we've welcomed the flowers of May.

Everywhere but here, that is. Here it's still raining.

Cold and rainy.

We'll get a few gloriously warm days, and then I wake up the next day in the frigid cold, look out the window, and cry my eyes out.

Because a new layer of snow is covering the ground.

Oh, happy days.

I've been thinking about when the first snow falls during the year. It always falls on green grass. Then the second snow falls, then the third and fourth and so on. Finally, the spring comes, and when it all finally melts away, you find some frozen but green grass underneath.

I just found myself thinking, "Good for you, grass!" Seriously. I'm not crazy. It weathered the storm. It stayed green despite tons of snow being dumped on it. Now...eventually...anywhere but here it would can enter the spring season, letting the old die out and new life replenish it.

My next thought is going to sound a little crazy.

We. Should be. Like the grass.

I don't mean in the "Here today, gone tomorrow," kind of sense. I mean in the way that grass stays green despite the winter.

It freezes.

"Winter" seasons always come for Christians. Those seasons where we are tested and tried. Where we feel like we are failing. Where we feel like we are drowning. Where we feel like anything but the strong Christian we were during the happy days of summer, or the mildly uncomfortable days of autumn. Now it's negative thirty, and our faith is failing just like our heat.

When instead, our faith should "freeze" like the grass. We should remain "green." Despite the twelve feet of snow in a land where penguins wear Parkas, our faith should remain intact. Despite the little things that come when we thought we had finally made it through the worst, our faith should be green. We should still be going strong, waiting for the thaw.

Check out these verses in James.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

You're blessed if you remain steadfast. Not only that, but if you remain steadfast, your faith is made perfect. Complete. Lacking in nothing.

Oh, my faith is lacking in so much! I don't want to give into gloom anymore... I want to stand the test, and win that big shiny crown!
I want to share some thoughts with you that I shared on an old blog post on Snack Time Devotions. It was originally for my Esther/Every Stand We Make Series, but the point - minus the grass - is the same, so I simply have to share it with you guys, too!

Haman was dead.

He had been hung on the gallows designed for her cousin Mordecai. King Ahasuerus had given her the house of Haman. In return she had told him all about her family and how Mordecai was her cousin. He had summoned Mordecai immediately. Then her husband shocked her by taking off his signet ring, which a guard had pried from Haman's dead hands, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther then gave Mordecai the house of Haman. It only seemed right. Haman was Mordecai's adversary whom God had delivered into his hands.

Now she was on the ground, bowed before King Ahasuerus, pleading for him to revoke the evil plan Haman had devised against her people.

She peaked up to see the royal scepter extended towards her. Standing up, she issued her plea one more time. "If it please your Majesty, if I have found favor in your sight, and if it seems right to the king, and if I am pleasing in your eyes, please let a decree go forth issuing that Haman's letters to destroy the Jewish people have been revoked." She met the eyes of her beloved. "How can I bear to see my people destroyed?"

This was it. They had come so far. All they needed was for King Ahasuerus to give the order, and this whole ordeal would be behind them.

A real smile graced her lips for the first time in days.

The king started to speak, he deep voice resonating in the grand room. "I have given the house of Haman into your hands, and Haman was hung on the gallows as punishment for his plot against the Jews." His deep eyes held regret. "You may write as you please with regard to the Jews in my name, and seal it with my signet ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked."

The words took a moment to sink into her heart. Haman had written his edict in King Ahasuerus' name and sealed it with his signet ring. She choked on a sob. Meaning we cannot revoke the law. We've failed.

Sobbing, she dropped to her knees. Decorum and protocol were thrown to the wind. Pulling her hair and royal robs she moaned, "What was the point?"

A hand touched her shoulder. Mordecai was crouched next to her, "There is still hope my dear Esther. We, our people, can fight back."

"No," She started shaking her head.

"Yes!" He took her by the shoulders and gave her a little shake. "Right now, they are waiting to die. We can tell them to fight. Command it with the king's edict. Don't you see? Yahweh's hand is still with us. Don't despair now."

King Ahasuerus moved to look into her eyes again. "He's correct." He smiled, and Esther felt hope burn within her chest again. He nodded to a nearby servant. "Send for the royal scribes at once. You've an edict to write."

Based on Esther 8:1-9

They had taken care of Haman. Instead of being able to brush their hands off, and settle back with a feast for a job well done, they had to figure out this law. What must it have been like for Esther to plea that Haman's law to be revoked, thinking they had won this battle, only for the king to say that any law written in his name cannot be revoked?

You make it through one obstacle, and immediately another awaits. Bigger and worse then the first.

I imagine that's how they might have felt.

It would have been so easy for Esther and Mordecai to throw their hands up declaring, "Well, we tried! Apparently God's hand isn't in this after all."

But His hand was in that situation.

Just like God's hand is in our lives. When we make it through one thing, He is prepared to use that hand to help us through the next obstacle course. We may get twists and turns and bombs dropped that we didn't expect...but He did. He already has the solution. We just need to trust Him. To keep standing for Him. Don't turn back or give up. He has that but-this-way-we-can-overcome plan waiting for us.

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

When we stand before God and His host of witnesses, will we be able to say that we were immovable and steadfast? That we didn't give up? That we fought the fight? That we finished the race? That we kept our faith? Will we be the green grass that stood the test of time?

When the winter comes, it's up to us to decide if we will freeze our faith and stay strong.

God bless you guys! I'll see you on May 10th. :)

V. Joy Palmer

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