By Kathi Pelton
The entire world realizes the seriousness of this hour as COVID-19 has created a health and financial crisis. Along with this, God is causing a deep sobering and refining in the hearts of His people as we navigate this landscape, facing issues unprecedented in any of our lifetimes. I personally have never experienced such a soul-searching time.
Then, yesterday as my husband and I watched the final episode of an HBO mini-series about John Adams (second president of the United States), a scene that occurred just prior to his death struck my spirit at a profoundly deep level.
Adams’ entire life had been dedicated to the very hard and real struggle to see his new nation founded and unified; he truly made great sacrifices for this cause. In his old age, after many personal losses, he began to despair as he felt he had paid too great a price. But in this scene, he was a very old man and was taking a short walk with his son. Suddenly he stopped and bent over, looking like he might fall. But he wasn’t falling but rather coming to his senses. He began to describe to his son the time that he stood before the queen of England and was amazed by the opulence of her crown adorned with 2,800 diamonds—including a 105-carat diamond in the front—and the beautiful jewels around her neck and on her hands. Then, as he was still bent over, the camera focused on what he was viewing; a tiny wildflower. With tears and deep passion he said, “All of the diamonds and jewels do not even begin to compare to the beauty of this one tiny flower.”
He then began to weep and laugh at the same time. This ninety-year-old man started to dance, grabbed his son’s arms, and shouted, (quoting the Apostle Paul) “Rejoice evermore! Rejoice evermore!”
The simple, pure perspective of creation and its Creator restored his soul. The “weight of the world” suddenly lifted off him and allowed the end of his life to be filled with simple beauty and joys.
As I watched this scene, tears filled my eyes and the Lord began to go to a new depth in me; but this depth was one of being restored to the child-like wonder of His beauty and creation. It caught me off-guard, even though earlier that day my husband and I were talking about pleasures we’d abandoned because we have become so serious about “seeing His Kingdom established.”
I am not suggesting at all that the sacrifices that we and others have made to serve our God are wrong or in vain, but I suddenly heard Him ask me, “Why don’t you paint? Why did you stop drawing and creating?”
My only answer was, “Well, how is that going to advance Your Kingdom?” As the words came from my mouth I suddenly knew that these simple talents and passions bring His heart pleasure— after all, look at how His artistry in earth’s creation brings us such pleasure.
Then I saw in my mind different scenes of our young grandsons rejoicing as they spend their days running through the tall grass with abandoned joy, or snuggling a neighbor’s kitty, or laughing as they run through a sprinkler. The Lord said, “Is their time wasted?”
I didn’t need to answer Him. Of course I knew that their joy and wonder brings Him great pleasure.
As all this unfolded, something began to be resurrected in my heart. It was the value that God puts upon the “simple beauties.” The tiny spring flowers carpeting the fields, the cherry blossom petals swirling in air like a snowfall, the sunrise and sunsets that paint our sky, and the birds singing songs that could be interpreted in the same words that John Adams sang as he looked upon the tiny flower, “Rejoice. Rejoice evermore!”
There is a deep work happening that is purifying our hearts and decluttering our lives. And yet, there is a resurrection of true wonder, beauty, and joy occurring as well. Let’s not forget to take time to experience His beauty by listening to the song birds, or breathing the aroma of a field of wildflowers, or stopping to look at the beautiful sky with someone we love. Take time to pick up those passions that were left behind and labeled “futile” as we viewed a world caught in the grip of sin and darkness. There is balance restored in understanding that we can be still, knowing that He is God, and we are not! In stillness we will find awe, wonder, and beauty again— which will restore joy to our weary souls.
There are times that it is proper for us to be deeply serious, and yet there are just as many moments that we are to enter into the simple beauties that remain; revealing His love in ways that restore our soul.
That moment, at the end of John Adams’ life, should not have just been a final encounter, but instead could have been thousands of small blessings woven throughout his life, so that the weight of his enormous responsibilities wouldn’t have caused such heartache in his soul. Let’s find the joy that has been woven through the landscape of creation and sown into the fabric of our lives through simple joys—painting, sewing, writing, photography, dancing, singing.
This time of alignment is also a time of balancing perspectives. We are not God, but we take things upon ourselves that set us up as “saviors.” The title Savior belongs to One, and only One. He already bore the weight of the world upon His body and gave His all for every person ever created. There is a rest and joy as we enter into the finished work of the cross and let go of the weight of a misplaced savior complex.
Deep is calling unto deep, but let’s not misunderstand that His finished work is the deepest truth we will ever embrace. Rejoice! Rejoice— REJOICE! He has overcome the world. Go out and spend an hour looking at a flower, or sit with someone you love and watch the sunset from beginning to end. Let beauty lift the weight from you and wash your soul with a resurrection of joy.
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