“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others! But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.” (Psalms 52:7-9)
There is too much in the above-referenced Scripture verse to adequately comment on within the bounds of this Blog. Accordingly, my thoughts have been drawn to considering how we go about the process of “Flourishing in the House of God.” The Scripture reference here in Psalms 52 describes the things the man sought after, thinking he would become strong in doing so. Today, he or she would likely spend much of his or her time thinking, planning, and overworking to acquire great wealth. Our cultural message today is that money, fame, active social lives, work, recognition, achievement, the latest fashion, ageless skin for women, and physical pursuits will give us strength and satisfaction. Unfortunately, these things cannot provide true or lasting joy, nor can they provide meaningful satisfaction. They consistently leave us wanting for more.
Consider flowers and the vast array of lovely colors their blooms cast. Ah, then stands the Texas sunset that stunningly speaks of a master artist who lovingly uses His paint brush to paint new patterns, colors, and reflections on the canvas of each new evening. As I looked into our backyard through a bay window this past weekend, I watched a slender evergreen shrub move gracefully with each push of the wind’s force. I had to stop myself and ask why the vision of that shrub brought such relaxation and peace to my mind. Then, it occurred to me that the bush was being and doing exactly what God had intended, nothing more and nothing less. The shrub continues its growth even though the winds, rain, snow, and varying temperatures make it so difficult. Additionally, the evergreen is fully aware that it is an evergreen bush, not a deciduous tree, not a succulent, nor a rose bush. Because the shrub is being what God created it to be and doing what God created it to do; similar to all of creation, we have great joy as we observe its beauty.
Max Lucado penned my favorite children’s picture book called, You are Special. The story revolves around a town of wooden people, called Wemmicks. In their culture, the wooden people are given star stickers if they perform well and look good. Conversely, they are given gray dot stickers if their performance is poor or they have chipped paint. Punchinello, the main character, has an array of gray dot stickers given to him by the townspeople. One day Punchinello meets Lucia, who is clothed in neither star stickers or gray dot stickers. This causes Punchinello to wonder why Lucia can be so happy and free of all stickers, stars or dots. In talking with Lucia, he discovers that Lucia spends time every day with Eli, the town’s carpenter. See, Eli crafted all of the wooden people in their town. As Lucia learns what her maker says about her, the judgments of the townspeople do not change her perspective of herself. Consequently, the stickers the Wemmicks attempt to give to her do not stick to her. Lucia learned who she was created to be and what she was created to do by spending time with her creator. After all, who would know better of her design and intent than the one who formed her?
While trees, flowers, sunsets, shrubbery, and all of creation cannot experience joy in their “being,” they provide joy to us as we watch them. Because, we as people are at the height of God’s creation, He designed us to experience joy in knowing that we are His children and in knowing that we belong to Him. Likewise, His intent is that we walk in the capacity in which He intended for us individually. It follows that the joy we have in understanding our uniqueness as His creation, along with the satisfaction we receive by allowing Him to live through us, makes our joy contagious to those around us. In its simplicity, an evergreen shrub points to a loving Heavenly Creator who created it for our enjoyment. Similarly, our lives are intended to point to the One who created us, the One people truly long for. As we flourish in God’s House, we will draw others into the discovery of who they were created to be and what they were designed to do. May we be drawn into spending time at His workbench, studying the blueprints of who He designed us to be and the purposes He intended for our lives. As we flourish in relationship with Him, may we listen for His voice as it leads us into opportunities to make His love contagious to those we encounter.
Scripture references taken from The New International Version.