Monday, April 27, 2009

Wilt Disease

Throughout our marriage, my wife has always siezed the moment when I'm away on business to complete projects. She is action-oriented. I am contemplative. So, when it comes to painting, cleaning the garage, or landscaping, I move too slowly for her. She gets much more accomplished when she doesn't have me slowing her down.

This spring, while I was at a training event, Karla beautified our yard with a cornucopia of flowering plants. I returned to a front yard full of begonias, vencias, Mexican heather, and petunias. She was excited about all of these, but she was most thrilled by a gorgeous red hybiscus. I'll admit the red petals, when in bloom, were brilliant. She had successfully turned our ordinary yard into an extraordinary explosion of color - the same impact she has had on my life.

Unfortunately, within days of planting the hybiscus, we noticed that the leaves, which had originally been a deep, dark green, were browning, wilting, and falling to the ground. This plant which had looked so beautiful at the nursery was now becoming an eyesore. Karla quickly googled why this could be happening and discovered that the plant most likely had wilt disease, a fungus that gets on the root system of a plant and attacks it from the roots up. The only possible means of restoring the plan to health is to generously pour a mixture of bleach and water into the soil and hope that it kills the fungus.

This reminds me of Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). Jesus has just finished delivering his Sermon on the Mount and tells those listening (are you listening?) that everyone who hears his words and puts them into practice is like a wise person who built their house on a rock. The rains may come, the streams may rise, and the winds may blow and beat against the house, but it would not fall because its foundation was on the rock.

If we hear Jesus' words and put them into practice, our foundation for living will be solid, regardless of the circumstances around us. If we don't listen to the words of Jesus and put them into practice, we are susceptible to wilt disease. We may be able to look good on the outside for a while, but eventually, the fungus of self-reliance will attack our root system, our foundation, and we will be like a foolish person who has built their house, their life on sand. If we choose the latter, our lives will fall with a great crash or, in the case of the hybiscus, it will die.

Karla chose to saturate the roots of the hybiscus with the bleach/water mixture. Just a few days later, the plant began to look healthier and, within a week, its health was restored. When we hear the words of Jesus and put them into practice in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit, God pours a divine mixture of love and grace upon our root system and we will begin to bloom. We will be that wise person who built their house on a rock and the world will be different because we are in it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Movement of the Moment

The title of this blog comes from a beautifully written song by Allen Levi of the same title. My prayer is that its postings would provide the same impetus for reflection that Allen's song has for me over the years.

Our lives are a collection of moments, none of which occurred in still-frame. Each moment was moving towards another, crashing on top of another as waves in the ocean. Sometimes we remember these moments as beautiful while at other times we would simply rather forget them. But we can't. The moments of our lives are forever a part of us, having shaped us, for good or ill, into the people we are at this present moment.

Frederick Buechner once wrote, "All moments are key moments." I think of this well-crafted phrase often as I manage details of a life that seem all too ordinary. If Buechner is right, and I'm inclined to believe he is, every moment of our lives makes a difference, either for us or for others around us. Therefore, we would be wise to listen attentively to the movement of these moments. If we listen closely, perhaps we might hear the whispering voice of God, the maker of moments, and learn to courageously surrender every moment to Him.