I got last Sunday off from preaching, so here’s my “Mustard Seed” from the Andrews Journal on May 22, 2014.
I am finding dead flowers everywhere: on the dash of my car; on the window sill of our kitchen sink; in the cup holder on our stroller.
Strangely enough, this doesn’t bother me. In fact, I kind of like it.
I have a three-year-old daughter who loves flowers and she is constantly on the lookout. When we walk down Main Street she screams a declaration as we pass the Garden Club’s handiwork: “FLOWERS!” Driving in the car she calls out their colors as we pass them by: “Yellow! Pink! Purple!”
Whenever my daughter is on foot and sees a wildflower, she is drawn to it like a moth to the flame. Everything must wait as she squats down and carefully selects a small bouquet. Often, these are gifted to me or her father or her little brother. As much as we cherish them, the end result is usually that we leave them sitting somewhere when the next part of life demands our attention.
And so, I am always finding dead flowers. But to me they aren’t just dead flowers – they are a reminder of my daughter’s love of creation and love for us. When I see them my heart feels warm and I can’t help but smile.
What should be a symbol of death has become a symbol of love.
When I look at a cross I have a very similar reaction. The cross was, in Jesus’ time, an especially cruel means of execution; but for us today it’s a symbol of God’s love for us.
When I see a cross at church I think about how “God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). When I wear a cross necklace it reminds me that Christ “bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (2 Peter 2:24).
God has turned a negative symbol into the most positive one.
Whenever we are reminded of death – whether through a cross or dead flowers or the loss of a loved one – we are also reminded of the hope we have through Christ.