In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Consider the Lilies

My heart seems a perpetual battlefield on which are pitted thankfulness for innumerable blessings, on the one hand, and frustration with the insatiable demands and petty limitations of everyday life, on the other.

Compared with most human beings on this planet, I live a life fit for Paradise: a reasonably well-paying job (will we have jobs in Paradise?); all the food, clothing, and shelter I need; a good wife and children; decent health (so far as I know); a pleasant climate (most of the year); abundant books and music; and natural beauty all around me. All I need to experience the wonder of Creation is walk about my back yard, feel the warm sunshine and cool breeze on my face, and breathe in the heavenly fragrance of the wildflowers crowding the floor of the woods around us, as pictured above, or those captured below, gracing the sides of the pathway along the Erie Canal where we walk our dog Frank every day.

Yet, I'm restless and unsatisfied. I never have enough time to make progress on things that liberate my soul, like reading, blogging, genealogy, or historical research. There's too much office work and too many chores at home--bills, mowing, gardening, cleaning, picking up, etc.--which must be attended to. Our children still need guidance and help; our dog needs care every day; something always needs repair or replacement. I seethe whenever these "mundane" details keep me me from things that are more fulfilling, or seem to be--and it happens every day. Why did God give me so much curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, a desire to share it, and a good brain ("no brag, just fact"--as Walter Brennan used to say) with which to pursue these things, only to let me bog down with burdens that don't have anything to do with them? It seems like my God-given talents and potential are going to waste, and I fear dying before I can grow to "be all I can be" (as the Army still likes to say), or do something to enrich the lives of others outside my own family. I don't care much about fame, but it would be gratifying to publish some articles or a book or two, or maintain a web site (does this one qualify?), or teach a class, about things important to me. But there's no time.

And then I see, and smell, those flowers, They remind me of the passage from the Gospel of Luke:
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ~ Luke 12:27
The flowers around my yard and by the Canal aren't lilies, of course--honestly, I don't know exactly what they are--but they're in the same position. They don't toil or spin, because they can't. All they can do is radiate the inherent beauty God bestowed upon them, and bless the lives of people like me in their short, otherwise unremarkable lives.

Is that the secret? Does God simply wish us to be satisfied with being all He's enabled us to be within our allotted bounds, however constricted they seem to be to us? Perhaps, up to a point. But unlike the lilies, he's endowed us with legs and arms, with eyes, ears, voices, and brains--with the ability, and hopefully the desire, to make something more of ourselves than we could be just by standing stock still. Could it be that in all the hurly-burly of every day life, and amidst all the frustrations in its wake, I fail to see opportunities for personal growth and contribution that would be apparent had I the faith to look for them and the courage to seize them? Maybe, instead of giving way to restless anger, I should pray for the inner serenity that I see outwardly in the beautiful flowers of the field. And then, perhaps, I could find a way to achieve a bit of their glory.

In any case, I doubt I'll ever stop trying to grow my knowledge and understanding. God gave me that thirst, and my parents and teachers nurtured it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:34). Lord, help me gain a bit of that treasure while I'm here, and be able to share it with my friends.


Donna said...

I loved this post Dad! I often feel the same way. Life gets in the way of living sometimes. I am hoping you have heard the Song "Consider the Lilies." I am singing with the chior for stake conference and we are singing that song. The director told us about this story....
(and the blogger thing just told me my message was too long, so you will have to go to the web site.. )
I love that song! I miss you and can't wait to see you in just a few weeks!

JoJo said...

I love sitting in the backyard and marveling at the beauty of the simplest flowers. I'm afraid that life has it's way of crowding out the simple beauties of this Earth. It seems that life does everything in its power to distract us from admiring God's creations. Beautiful post!

It's A Wonderful said...

What a lovely post, Tom. You've summed it "all" so beautifully. Perhaps our reaching for more is precisely what God intended our lives to be. Which reminds me of the great masterpiece "Hand of God." Like a parent teaching a toddler to walk, just out of arm's length, so too are we, journeying towards something just out of reach. And how sweet when we finally attain it. Then we toddle off towards a new venture. Always reaching...

Love you, love to Melany and the kids!