Beauty Awaits

It was Memorial Day. I was weeding the flower bed on the south side of the house.  I’ve decided that this is the year I am going to keep my flowerbeds clean and clear of weeds.  I looked over at my neighbor’s flowerbed. It hasn’t been touched yet this spring.  Not because of a busy schedule.  The pandemic has hit and the neighbors haven’t left their house much.

My neighbor and I have an agreement. Our flowerbeds are not in competition with each other. We don’t try to outdo one another. We admire from afar when the beds are well kept.  We keep our thoughts to ourselves when they aren’t. And that is that.

But so far this year, I’m winning. But as I said, this isn’t a competition. Oh. My flowerbed still has weeds. They’re never ending. But at least, there’s space between the plants. It’s clear where the peonies end and the irises begin. And the strawberries are separate from the zinnias that have begun to pop up. But still. There is much work to do in this flowerbed.

I fear that the deer will soon devour all the strawberries that are blooming. It would be nice, for once, to be able to eat those strawberries ourselves. We aren’t growing them to feed the deer. But then. There are also the hostas and day lilies that seem to get devoured by the deer. Those I’m not so worried about.

There are some very shady spots in my backyard that need attention. With all the rain that we’ve had, the weeds just pop up overnight. It’s hard to keep them under control. Perhaps a good layer of mulch would help manage that problem. But who has the time? Work keeps calling my name. 8 hours a day. 5 days a week. By the time the day is over, who wants to pull weeds? But I realize that’s the sacrifice that must be made in order to keep the flowerbeds looking their best.

I have lofty goals for this garden. Oh. It’s not big. It’s not majestic. It will never win awards. But I want to keep it weed free and thriving. I want to plant a variety of flowers and shade loving, deer resistant perennials. My goal is to see a beautiful garden in the midst of my normal life. But it will take work. Back breaking, sweaty work. Am I up for the challenge?


So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Hebrews 6:1


I find the same amount of work must go into my Christian life. If I want to see beauty and growth in my relationship with God, I must take the time to pull the weeds of sin out of my life. Those weeds can choke out the peace that God provides.

Keeping my relationship with God growing is hard work. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes sacrifice and commitment. It isn’t always easy to make reading my Bible a priority, but it is necessary in order to know who God is. I must choose to spend time in prayer. Spending time with my Maker and Provider is a daily must. There is no wiggle room in that.

As I was weeding the flowerbeds this morning, I realized I couldn’t distinguish some annuals I had planted from the weeds. Until the annuals bloom, I won’t know if they are weeds or flowers. It’s because I don’t recognize the leaf patterns without the fruit. I realized this is similar to my spiritual growth. It isn’t always easy to distinguish between right and wrong. Sin and obedience. In those times, I must lean in to feel the prick of my conscience or the nudge of the Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness and uncertainty.

I have lofty goals for my soul. Oh. I doubt that I’ll be in the same group as Moses or David or Paul or Abraham. But I want to want to spend eternity in heaven. I want to spend an eternity with my heavenly Father. My goal is to walk the streets of gold. But it will take work while I’m still on this earth. Back breaking, sweaty work. Am I up for the challenge?

Fragile Clay Jars

It’s been two years to the day since I felt the sting of rejection.  I was told I was no longer needed for the job.  I was no longer wanted.  The job was no longer mine. In other words, I got the boot.

Oh. I don’t remember the date so I can commemorate the embarrassment of losing my job.  I remember the date for what I gained. For sometimes when you lose, you gain so much more than you ever thought you owned.

Sure. I eventually gained a new job.  New self-confidence.  A deeper trust in God.  For what a better way to learn total dependence on God than to lose a big ticket item you depended on daily.

2 Corinthians 4:7 tells me that I am a fragile clay jar.  And yes, I am.  I’ve learned these past two years that a personal rejection can make or break that fragile clay jar.  It depends on how I have filled the jar. Oh yes.  It’s fragile.  The jar can break.  It sure has cracks in it.  They’re obvious if you come too close. These cracks are caused by greed and anger. Envy. Pride. Fear. Jealousy. And many other uncomfortable undoings.

Oh.  I’ve tried to patch these cracks.  Time and again.  Repeatedly over the years, I’ve worked feverishly on some slow growing crack that just never mends.  The problem is that I tend to try to make all the repairs by myself.  But I’ve discovered a holy patchwork that is flawless.  Oh.  The scars are still in sight, but they can be filled with a righteous covering.  In the midst of my patches and flaws, this patchmaker comes in and has begun filling this fragile clay jar with just the right amount of holiness.  He makes the repairs when the clay softens enough to accept change. 

In the spots where the clay has become so hardened, he gently applies love and forgiveness to soften the spot.  He does that so he can remold this old vessel into one that looks more like him.  Oh.  He doesn’t remove the scars, but he fills them with his signature blend of mercy, grace, love and forgiveness. The blend is actually personalized for each clay pot.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not the clay jar that’s the prize.  It’s the contents that really matter. 


We are like fragile clay jars that contain a treasure.  Our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7


Pressed but not crushed. Perplexed but not in despair. Hunted but not abandoned. Knocked down but not destroyed. 

We are pressed by troubles, but the hope within us keeps the weight of those troubles from crushing the life out of us. Our God is strong when we are weak.

 We are perplexed by loss and momentary troubles, but desperation is not our friend. God provides for our every need with precision in his timing.

We are hunted by the enemy himself,  but God does not abandon us when we are at our weakest. He fights for us. He is the host of heavens armies. 

We will be knocked down. Many times. But we will not be destroyed when we have the light of heaven shining in our hearts. We are not alone in this battle. This fragile clay jar has withstood fiery heat to get to this point of strength. 

Our great power is from God and God alone. It is not of ourselves. Never be fooled into thinking you are strong enough on your own to handle what life throws at you. You are a fragile clay jar. The filler is the key to strength and endurance.