Koinonia: Spring 2020
"But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. "Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. "Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind ? Job 12:7-10
Excerpt from The Color Purple by Alice Walker:
“But more than anything else, God love admiration. You saying God vain? I ast. Naw, she say. Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it ticks God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. What God do when He ticked off? I ast. Oh, He make something else. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see He always trying to please us back. Yeah? I say. Yeah, she say. He always making little surprises and springing them on us when us least expect. You mean He want to be loved, just like the bible say. Yes, Celie, she say. Everything want to be loved.”
My favorite part about Spring is the purple flowers (you probably guessed that, right?). Spring is a time when the glory of God in His creation is particularly on display. The Lord uses the fullness of His painter’s palette with vibrant greens and the whole color spectrum of blossoms and flowers. If we can’t see God at work renewing life in the dormant Earth, where and when will we notice Him?
Spring is particularly vibrant when the roots are well nourished during Fall and Winter. When plant life is dormant, it is the perfect time to water and fertilize – to give to the relationship when it is not yielding anything tangible in return. I find the same is true in our relationship with God. We must be committed to nourishing the root in all seasons, not only so that we appreciate the harvest, but so that we recognize God is always in control and always at work on our behalf.
But sometimes life itself does not give us good soil to fertilize. Circumstances poison or erode the landscape and we find it hard to recognize God’s presence. These are the times when the depth and strength of our roots are really tested.
Perhaps there is no better example than Job, a godly man who had his whole life turn upside down by the direct hand of Satan. He spent a lot of time sitting upon the ash heap of his formerly charmed life wandering what he did wrong or why God would allow such hardship. His first three friends surely didn’t help the situation either, sending Job down the rabbit hole of his sorrows. But Job held fast to his faith in the Almighty and was reminded that God is ALWAYS in control. He controls all of nature and surely all our human circumstances are within His influence as well. Ultimately Job would praise God in his dormant season and his life was eventually restored to where he could once again experience the fruit of God’s blessings.
The passage I included from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple was a spark to my own faith life. I’ve never experienced the depth of Job’s hardship, but I certainly had a period in my young adult life when it sure felt like I was sulking on top of an ash heap. Truthfully, the circumstances of my life were pretty good at the time. But I was self-absorbed in self-created problems, which I expressed daily through a dormant train of questioning: God, why don’t I feel you? Why don’t I hear from you? Why don’t you speak to my life? Of course, God was with me all that time. But my selfishness had me mired in the dormancy of a long winter and I simply wasn’t allowing God any room to reveal Himself.
The Color Purple excerpt is from a conversation between the two main characters: Celie, an impoverished black woman in the Jim Crow south that had lived a joyless life and Sug (short for Sugar), who was a lounge singer accustomed to the wining and dining of big city nightlife. Celie had a cold and abusive husband and every day presented its share of trouble. Sug comes into her life and is determined to show Celie some form of relief so that she can experience some goodness in life.
This novel is in no way a Christian story (and in fact has some pretty worldly themes), but this passage really spoke to me. I think it is a beautiful reminder that God is always present…and He is practically begging for us to pay attention to Him! He’s made us stewards over the fantastic Earth He created and shame on us for not paying more notice!
That was the beginning of the purple flowers test for me. God began to show me purple flowers everywhere. The question was, would I actually see them? It required me to stop making everything about myself and realize that He is in charge and He is always present. Could I stop complaining about my spiritual dormancy and start being nourished by His presence? Could I re-surrender to His grace and begin walking with Him again?
Thankfully the answer was YES. While circumstances continued to ebb and flow, I had a renewed focus on nourishing the roots of my faith and letting God grow me. And over the last 20 years He has taken me through and increble journey that has now joined with all of yours at Living Roots Church.
How about you? Are you noticing God’s loving attention in nature? Do you see Him working in your family? Friends? Career? Everyday things? Are you fertilzing your heart in all seasons and enjoying the renewal of Spring? Has God given you some sort of test? I hope we all pass it…and celebrate the incredible God and the incredible faith walk that we are on. I thank God for all the purple flowers.
-- Pastor Justin