She squeezes a delicate flower between chubby fingers, and with a beaming smile and a twinkle in her eye, she declares:
“Look, Mama! I got a flower for you!”
Nevermind that the flower has come from a plant we painstakingly placed in our flower bed on hands and knees over the weekend. Nevermind us watering, and tending to it with care.
She has found a gift, and she is proud to give it.
I tend to think my life, my work, and how I fill my days, are of the utmost importance. I can have a self-inflated view of the value of my work.
Everything inside of me doesn’t want to admit this, and wants to scream: No, you’re fine! You don’t have an overinflated view at all!
But when I consider the way I can get so terribly flustered with a long to-do list and a short amount of time, the way I can get frustrated with my own children because this homeschool lesson just has to be done or these chores just have to get finished… I see in myself the belief that these things really are – um, rather a big deal. To me.
When my daughter brought me a flower, and felt so proud of her efforts, bringing me something I planted and watered, I felt like I was seeing a glimpse of my life and efforts in light of the vast and incredible, eternal love of God.
What can I offer the God who created everything?
Only the joyful return of what He has given me.
But maybe I need reminding that this is all I can do – and maybe it’s a gift to recognize it in this way.
If we become like children, then we see that whether we are the CEOs of Amazon or the street sweepers of small town America, humility will help us to see: it is all temporary.
In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes a dream which was a glimpse of Hell and of Heaven. And in the dream, to help him understand what he was seeing he met a favorite author of his, George Macdonald, who was already in heaven.
Lewis was struck by his struggle to understand how the life we now lead on Earth fits into the eternal. Macdonald explains to Lewis:
“Ye cannot in your present state understand eternity… But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective. Not only this valley but all their earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. Not only twilight in that town, but all their life on Earth too, will then be seen by the damed to have been Hell. This is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing Heaven, once attained will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say, ‘Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences’: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.”
Yes – that was a lot to unpack and I hope you’ll come back and read it again.
But consider the possibility! Once we have the perspective of eternity, when we are as we were created to be, in union with the Father and in heaven, we will know what we now only glimpse in a mirror dimly:
This world was just a tiny glimpse, a flash in the pan, a speck in the curtain on the edge of the stage of eternity.
The souls we touch with the time we have matter immensely. But we are children – and we ought not to think more highly of our efforts than we ought.
We can only look for ways to bring beauty to our Father. We can only pluck flowers from His garden and joyfully deliver them to Him.
Perhaps becoming like a child will mean I take myself considerably less seriously… and take the words and the will of my Father considerably more.
As you face this day, this month, this hard place, this struggle, this hardship – hold onto the Truth that Heaven can work backward, and that someday even these dark-colored strands will be part of the beautiful tapestry the Father is weaving with your life.
Knowing this, you can give it all, friend. The hurt and the hope. The gifts and talents. The smiles and the grief. Everyone and everything. Give it all to God.
And when it’s all said and done, like a child, you’ll be able to say:
“Look, Father! I found this for You! I did this for You! I gave that cup of cold water, that gift, big or small, those years of service, that friendly smile, this flower I found in Your garden! It is all to You and for You!”
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