Parson to person: “I am with you always”
I have stood in awe and stared at the beauty of my flower beds numerous times. The first flowers to catch my attention were these green stalks with absolutely no leaves. In many ways, the stalks looked more dead than alive in the garden until a beautiful pink flower appeared. These surprise lilies seemingly emerged from nothing into bouquets of delicate petals. The second flowers that could stop me in my tracks every time were the huge ones that opened up only for a day. The gigantic red and white blooms would stretch wide open to face towards the light of the sun. By the next morning, these full blooms were wilted and gone. The third flowers that took my breath away were the purple cones on a big, straggly bush. Upon these flowers, butterflies of all colors, shapes and sizes would land for a drink of sweet nectar. During the summer, I have been too busy to weed, water or care for my flower beds. Even without special care, these gorgeous blooms burst forth with reminders of life’s most remarkable blessings.
Those who choose to follow Jesus are given important instructions at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. The Great Commission is “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). When we decide to follow Jesus, the Lord requires a full-time, life-time commitment. At times on this journey, we can become weary, weak, discouraged, overwhelmed or disappointed. Saying and doing what the Lord commands is sometimes the very last priority in our lives. Even as a pastor, I struggle to keep my focus on Jesus all of the time. At these points on my faith walk, I am reminded of the final words that Jesus spoke in Matthew, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). This promise can fill us with hope. Even when life may seem like an empty, worthless stalk, God still brings beauty from it. If we hold onto our faith through all circumstances, the Lord’s blessings will probably surprise us.
Even when the goodness of life seems to fade away, God still reveals some of the most spectacular radiance for a moment. If we open our hearts to love through all situations, the Lord’s gifts will probably stop us in our tracks. Even when life may seem like a messy bush, God still transforms the lives around it. If we remember that God is in control instead of us through all times, the Lord’s promises will probably take our breath away. No matter what is happening today, look for God in it because you may just find the most beautiful glimpse of the Lord’s constant reminder: “I am with you always.”