Beauty Unknown and Fleeting

October 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

I recently wrote about a magnificent flower that bloomed on what had been a two-foot-long green stick. I called the flower an orchid. Several kind readers enlightened me that it was in fact an “amaryllis.” Apparently that’s the name of the flower. My wife confirmed it.

Hmmm… I didn’t even know what the flower was, yet I loved it.

There is a lesson in life here: I could appreciate something even though I know nothing about it.

It’s a good thing I don’t have to understand every aspect about something to appreciate it–like good food, computers, my wife, or God.

What are some things in your life that you value even though you don’t understand them?

I’ve studied God a long time, but I’ll never understand him any more than an ant could understand a human. But that’s okay. He loves me anyway.

How many other things in life do you know little about, yet you find beautiful or helpful? The world is full of them.

Back to the amaryllis. As soon as I grew to appreciate their beauty, the flowers withered. They only bloomed a week before they shriveled one by one. “Oh, come on! You need to stay with us longer than that,” I told the flowers. But talking to flowers doesn’t work.

Perhaps one thing that makes beauty valuable to us is that it’s often temporary, like the four seasons, youth, or flowers.

How often have you wished you could hold the sunset a few minutes longer, be young a few years more, feel the overwhelming sense of God’s presence all the time?

My wife just got another green stick; an amaryllis. As I watch it for signs of flowers, she tells me the previous one will bloom again. Maybe next year, maybe sooner. Beauty comes and beauty goes. It’s up to us to cherish it in between.

PRAYER: Lord, the beauty of the world, Your gift to me, surrounds me and amazes me. May my eyes always see and not be blinded by the mad rush of the day. May my heart always receive and not be constricted by worries and cares. When Your beauty comes to me, my hands are open.

“From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth” (Psalm 50:2, NIV).

Flowers from a Stick

October 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

My wife bought an orchid. But it was really just a two-foot-long stalk as thick as my thumb. It sat in a pot on her table, this green stick. It was not beautiful, and to my eyes didn’t show much promise. It only took up space.

After a few weeks, it still sat there gathering dust. For some reason she watered it. Seemed like a waste of water to me.

For two months the green stick sat on her table. Several spikey leaves had sprouted at the base, and a big bulge grew at the top. Probably a tumor.

Then one morning we stopped and stared. The tumor had bloomed into a magnificent flower. Now it’s the glory of the house. Soon, a second flower bloomed. And two more buds have formed.

So many things in life are like that stick. Things we build. Things we work for. Things we attempt. So many people are like that stick too.

Some things–and some people–have a critical mass, a tipping point, where months or years of effort or waiting reach a point when something happens. A project is finished, a conflict is resolved, a child grows up, a skeptic comes to faith. Transformations occur that could not have occurred without that time of waiting.

Are you attempting to do anything that’s like that green stick and hasn’t yet produced its flower? Or is there something inside you that’s like that green stick, quietly developing and will someday come out as something beautiful?

If your flower hasn’t bloomed yet, don’t give up. Keep tending to it. Be patient. Work hard. Hope. Big or small, you’ll get your flower.

PRAYER: Lord, empower me to be patient about _____________. I will persevere and not give up. Whatever it takes, by Your grace, I will bloom.

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32 NIV).

Big Ship, Small Helm

September 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

Picture yourself on a cruise ship three football fields long, that weighs 137,308 gross tons, and carries 5020 passengers and crew—a floating city.

A window looks onto the control room of this behemoth. In the center is a high-tech control console and, like every large boat, it also has a helm with a wheel to steer the ship manually. I could hardly believe what I saw; the wheel that turns this monster ship is barely 12 inches in diameter—smaller than the one on your car. Yes, it’s power steering. And the captain used it to steer the ship through coral reefs off the shore of Bermuda.

When I look around, I see small things that direct huge things. Electronic chips control cars and planes. Leaders direct national governments and international corporations. Your three-pound brain directs rest of your body.

In James 3:3–12, it tells how a small rudder steers a ship, a bit in a horse’s mouth directs it, and a spark sets a forest on fire. He writes how our tongues can praise God or curse people. The tongue can express great good or cause great harm.

Small things direct big things. Sometimes seemingly small decisions or habits can result in life-changing directions or influence on others, both for good or bad. Have you made a seemingly small decision, a seemingly small mistake, or practiced a seemingly small habit or discipline that led to big results? Have you ever said something that caused another person great joy or great pain?

A small wheel steers a big ship. It’s also true with your tongue, your money, your relationships, your career, and with your salvation and eternal life.

Remember the bigness of small things.

PRAYER: Lord, keep me mindful of small things that direct big things. May I always remember. And may I always be wise.

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:3–5, NIV).

Seeing as God Sees

August 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Do you ever compare yourself to others who have a similar level of education and who don’t work any harder than you do, but who make lots more money or achieve a higher degree of recognition?

When I feel that way, I remember a different kind of people—and everything looks different. In countries all over the world live people who are smart, work hard, would have gotten academic degrees if they had the chance, and who give their lives to serving God or some cause. Yet they live in the poverty of an African village or a Southeast Asian jungle. Or they live under the religious oppression of a Middle Eastern society. Or they work in secret under the brutal North Korean regime. Many have no salary at all. For all their work they may receive only beatings. They may receive a prison cell. And some are tortured and killed.

We so easily forget these people, especially our brothers and sisters in faith. But God does not forget them. They are closer to His heart than we can know.

When I think of them, I ask myself what on earth am I thinking when I say I’m not making enough money or not being “successful” enough?

From God’s point of view, everything—everything—looks different from how we typically perceive things from our human point of view. Especially in a wealthy and free nation.

God does not watch TV, and he does not care who’s rich or famous. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

Regardless of how your outward life appears, as your heart grows and you see as God sees, you’ll have spiritual wealth and recognition money can never buy.

PRAYER: Father, I commit to seeing as You see. May my eyes become like Yours. May Your thoughts become mine.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).

Obituaries and Eternity

By Peter Lundell –

For a brief time I read obituaries in the newspaper—just for fun. It didn’t last long, because they got repetitious. Besides, reading about dead people can get morbid. Yet I learned something.

All the deceased were good people and were missed. Of course they were; people don’t spend money on obituaries for people they don’t like. I didn’t see any for jerks—no one missed them. Or if anyone really was bad, the description was whitewashed.

Each obituary listed the career highlights and accomplishments of the deceased. Some were impressive: degrees, important jobs, civic activities, and contributions. Most folks appeared to have been nice people, good people, ones we’d like if we met them. I found myself being impressed. I imagined meeting them during their lifetime and being impressed—even envious and wishing I had accomplished the things they had.

But there was always one catch: They were dead. This single fact changed everything. After reading all the impressive things they did, I found myself oddly unimpressed. I kept thinking, So what? Their life achievements are over, and now they’re in eternity.

I scoured each obituary for indications of whether they had prepared themselves for eternity. I can’t say whether they or not they did, but nothing was ever said about it. I’m sure some did and some didn’t. Some knew God and some had positively influenced others, but most centered their activities and accomplishments on themselves.

Crossing the line into eternity changes everything—everything that on this earth is impressive or important or worthwhile.

Someday people will read my obituary. Yours too. What if we live our brief lives in ways that reflect and prepare for eternity? After all, that’s where we’re all going. And besides, we’ll almost certainly end up living better lives.

PRAYER: “Lord, teach me to live with eternity in my heart, eternity in my thinking, eternity in my actions, and as I do to change the world I live in.”

BIBLE VERSE: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).

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