Greener Grass

I see my neighbor two doors down. He’s working in his backyard every day. Sometimes all day, but mostly in the afternoon. He’s been furloughed, so now is the perfect time for him to lay mulch, plant new bushes, clean up the flowerbeds. So he is. I get it. He has the time, and he’s taking advantage of his free hours.

I, on the other hand, am working full time. From home, of course. My employer has taken the opportunity to make sure all their workers are busy. Very busy. They don’t trust that we’re really working while we’re working from home. There’s no extension of grace to lessen the workload. Even when our clients are postponing the work we do for them, the snap of the taskmaster’s whip is always heard.

Oh. I don’t mean to whine or complain. I am truly thankful to have a job. I’m glad I’m working and and getting my full paycheck. But when I look out the kitchen window and see my neighbor, I sigh with jealousy. I, too, want to be outdoors working in my flowerbeds. I want to pull weeds and drag out my tomato cages. I want to trim the lavender plant.

All my time is spent working. All my neighbor’s time is spent wanting to get back to work. Are we either one content? Are we comfortable with our circumstances? Or does the grass look greener on the other side for each of us?


Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Psalms 119:37


As I think about this, I feel I must berate myself. I have much to be thankful for. I’ve been unemployed three times, so I know the feeling of uncertainty. I know the fears that I’ve lived my best life. I know the concern that perhaps I’ll never find another job. So, why do I fret when I still have a full time job with a decent salary? What else do I want?

But then I wonder. If I wasn’t working. If I had been furloughed from my job, would I actually go outside and work in my flowerbeds? Would I dare to shop for flowers that I long to plant? Or would I just curl up and read a good book? Do I just want what I don’t have because it isn’t mine to have right now?

Is it safe to say that most of us are never content with where we are in life? That we always want what we don’t have? That we dream of those things that are just outside our reach? And when we get there. To that moment we dreamed of. Is it enough? Are we happy then?

Is this a time to be content or to dream of the future?

When faced with slow progress and seemingly endless delays, You enfold me in your patient Heart.
 
Let me recognize your perfect timing in all things, 
the fullness of your providence.
 
May I be so strong in your Spirit 
that all I do is inspired by you.
 
For you are loving, kind, and gentle,
in you are all the blessings.
 
Let me not be deaf to your voice, 
nor suffer the pain of a rebellious soul.
 
Gentle me, O Loving Guide, 
that I may learn the wisdom of purity, patience and peace.

Nan Merrill, Psalms for Praying

Signs of Spring

I was driving home from running a few errands. After being isolated in the house all week, it felt good to get out and see a little bit of the world. I saw a neighbor and his toddler son working on their lawn mower. I noticed a family of four sitting outside a sandwich shop eating lunch. Most likely, it was their first excursion of the week, too. As I drove, I saw new signs of spring. I realized some trees had already started budding and blooming. I saw some green on trees. Then I noticed white flowers. I knew that soon I would see pinks and purples. The new colors almost take my breath away, as I paused to think of the times we are in.

I remembered the forsythia bush in my back yard. Yellow has never been my go to color, but this spring it jumps out at me as a sign of new life. Rumor has it that snow will fall three times after the forsythia blooms. But this year, there’s no more prediction of snow. Instead, there’s the prediction of illness and possible death. Quarantine. Social distancing. Shelter in place. Face coverings.

But when I see the first signs of spring, I know that new life is forming. The dull color of winter is fading. The gray trees will soon be alive with flowers and leaves. Grass will grow again. Tulips and peonies. Roses and hydrangeas. Zinnias and irises. Fruits and vegetables. All the signs that life goes on are springing into sight. I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that when death can happen so suddenly these days, that life also comes in unexpected moments.


If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17


I think of the other season we’re in. It’s the week after Easter. I think of the plan that was fulfilled as an innocent man was put on trial and sentenced to death. Nailed to a cross he never should have been on. Placed in a tomb that wasn’t his. He died a death that didn’t need to happen. But oh. It did. Because out of that death and those days in the tomb, arose a new life that cannot be denied. Oh. It is denied by some. But regardless, the new life that came from that tomb has put the world on notice. That new life is available to all who call on the name of Jesus.

He paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. And in that sacrifice that ended in his death, new life arose from the tomb. That new life brought hope and healing. Forgiveness and fellowship. Sacrifice and sacred selflessness.

For centuries, the stories of this one man’s life and death have been told and told again. Truth has been shared. Lives have been changed. New life blooms each time a soul repents and a heart is changed.

Sure. The truth of his life and death has been denied. There are those who doubt and choose to ignore his miraculous new life. But the truth still stands. And on a day unexpected, everyone will bow and acknowledge this new life. Whether they believed or not, they will bow at the appointed time.

When the veil in the temple was torn in two, new life was claimed.  Direct access to God was now available when that fabric ripped from top to bottom. Day or night. 24/7. God is available at a moment’s notice. The veil was no longer needed. New life. New approach to the throne of God. Immediate access to God Almighty was now available.

When the scales fell from Saul’s eyes, new life began. The one who once hunted believers became a believer. His sins were washed away by the Savior of the ones he hunted. His new life frightened those who didn’t trust him. Others saw the change and accepted the new life for themselves.

 There was a massive earthquake that night when Paul and Silas were in jail. When the jailer thought his prisoners had escaped, he thought wrong. If they had, he thought to kill himself rather than be killed by others. But no one had escaped. He asked what he must do to be saved. Instead of ending his own life that night, he found a new life in Christ.

For the sake of everyone’s souls, the time is ripe for new life. New life with sins forgiven. Guilt and shame are a thing of the past. Bondage removed. Regret dissolved. The old life is gone. A new life has begun. May His name be praised!

What Do They Say

There he was. Hanging on a cross. For the world to see. Oh. Some who witnessed his death were followers of The Way. Others had ridiculed him. Pronounced him guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Wanting to witness the takedown of a man who stood for everything they were against. And so he died. There on the cross.

There were some witnesses who hadn’t quite made up their minds where they stood on the issue of his guilt. They had witnessed his arrest. They knew when he was dragged to court that the charges were all heresay. But they stood silent. And when the beatings started, they stood in agreement with the brutality. But in their hearts, they doubted his guilt. Oh. They knew they must keep quiet. Or they too would reap the anger and violence upon themselves. So they kept quiet. But they still doubted. They saw innocence when those in authority were pointing the finger of guilt.

So they continued with their charade. Forcing an innocent man up the path to Calvary, carrying a cross that was too heavy to bear. Imagine being those soldiers. How many times did they doubt the guilt of those they were leading to their death. Most likely, not too often. But on this day, there was doubt. and confusion. But they continued on the path to the trio of crosses.

Perhaps some of these soldiers had witnessed miracles this man had performed. Perhaps they drank the wine of his first miracle at that wedding. Perhaps they had seen Lazarus, who had been dead for two days, walk out of that tomb. Or maybe they had seen the paralyzed man leap off his mat and begin walking. But they spoke not a word of what was in their hearts.

Oh. There were mockers in that platoon of soldiers. You see. Not all believed who he was. So they shouted insults and taunted him. They created a crown from a branch of thorns and shoved it on his head. They even dressed him in a purple robe. Not out of respect, but in jest. And when they were finished with the mockery, they led him to be crucified. No dignity. No respect. No honor.

There were those who taunted him. They threw his own words back at him. In his face. You said you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Come down from the cross and save yourself. Even those who were crucified with him ridiculed him.


When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39


But at some point, the tone shifted. To a certain degree. One thief nailed on a cross next to Jesus continued to hurl insults at him. But the thief on the other side believed. We’re going to die right along with this King of the Jews. He hasn’t even done anything wrong. He asked Jesus to remember him as he moved from life to death. And Jesus assured him that he would have a place in paradise that day.

When the Roman officer who stood facing Jesus saw how he had died, he exclaimed that he truly was the Son of God. He had witnessed the entire crucifixion scene. He saw the tenderness of Jesus’ interaction with the thieves and with his mother. This soldier knew he was seeing God in action. He believed.

It makes me wonder. When I’m going through my toughest week and my life is on the line, what do those who are against me see? When those who have ridiculed and taunted me see me at my weakest, what are they saying about me? When they see me struggling in troubled and difficult times, do they say to themselves, “Truly, this is a child of God.” Or do they wonder if I’m all talk with no action in my faith.

Is my life consistent with the words that I say? Do my actions speak louder than my words? If my life was on the line, would others recognize the work of God in my life? What do others see in me that I’m not aware of?

There are those who deny the existence of God. There are those who doubt the creation story. There are those who are  unwilling to bow to a holy God. There are those who watch from the sidelines but back away from the truth.  But they watch the believers. They see the actions. They hear the words. They listen but their hearts are hardened to the truth. Unwilling to sacrifice their will and lay their soul on the line.

They see believers in their hardest days. They watch as believers walk their most painful steps. They hear the testimony of the faithful followers of the Way. They are watching. They are listening.

When you face disappointment or unfairness. When you are persecuted and ridiculed. When you are innocent but found guilty. Will they say of you in those moments, surely, this is a child of God?

Essential Workers

I got the email last week from my employer. It said that because of the business we are in, we are considered to be essential workers during this pandemic. I was rather surprised, but then I realized that what we do impacts hospitals and long term care facilities.

I must say that I felt a sense of pride. A sense of ownership. I am doing something that can help make this world a better place. I am contributing to the safety of those who have contracted this terrible virus. I am needed.

I also felt a sense of humility. And thankfulness. I am employed. I am able to work every day. All day. I am working from home, but I am doing the job that God provided for me. Little did I know that I would be employed when so many others have lost their jobs. I pray that the small company I work for can remain open during this time of great need and uncertainty. I don’t take this work or this paycheck for granted.

No. I’m not making masks. I’m not caring for sick individuals. I’m not delivering groceries to families. I am not building temporary hospitals. I am not working on a new vaccine or cure. I am not creating a quicker, easier testing method. I am just doing the job I was given. I am helping hospitals and other healthcare providers keep their information safe and secure.

I sometimes wonder if my work really is necessary. If it’s doing any good for anybody. Am I really helping at a time when help is needed all around me? Then I recall the kind emails I have received from multiple clients thanking me for providing them with much needed information during these tumultuous times. They tell me that the information is very timely and invaluable to their work.

Every kind action and word of advice and encouragement are needed at this time. These are times when we are making a difference in our world. Let’s make a good, noticeable difference.


In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. Romans 12:6


I was reminded that God has given each of us a special gift. Oh. Our gifts don’t all look alike. We don’t get to choose our gifts, but each gift is essential in building God’s kingdom. God has assigned each of us a specific role. A special calling in order to fulfill his plan for this world. We must act now. We must be willing. We must obey in order to fulfill his plan. We are essential workers in the kingdom of God.

He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. Ephesians 4:7

If you have been given the ability to prophesy, speak out boldly with the strong faith God has given to you. If your gift is serving others, then serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach your students well. If you are gifted with words of encouragement, then be an encourager to those who need it. If your gift is giving, then be generous because there are those who need to receive. If you are given the gift of leadership, then take that responsibility seriously. Don’t let it go to your head. If you are gifted with kindness, then shower kindness on others with a glad heart.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10

If you can speak, then speak as if God were speaking. If you can help, then help others with the strength and energy that God provides. If you have the gift of helps, then find ways to help others. If your gift is hospitality, then open your home or prepare a meal for others. If you have wisdom, then pray that God gives you wise words when they are needed.

These gifts are given to us to be used. Not to be hoarded or neglected. Some may say they don’t have a gift, but that isn’t true. God didn’t pour out gifts on a select few. He showered every one of us with a gift designed specifically with us in mind. Now it is up to each of us to use that gift. To deny it would be going against our Maker. All of these gifts that God has given are necessary to complete his good works. Each worker is essential. No job is too small or insignificant. There is work to be done. Let’s do our part.