I just came in from the back garden, where I was cleaning up remnants of shingles around the little plants that are starting to bud. There's not much out there yet - a few squash and zucchini seeds, a couple of watermelon plants - but I ventured out anyway. The hope is to plant more once they finish re-siding the garage, but there's no use making the guys work around a garden that they'd likely trample anyway. It's just easier to wait. And summer looms ahead.
It's been many years since I've planted watermelon. Not since I was a little girl. This year, my niece helped to plant a few. She loves the things. And even though she's not here all the time, it will be fun to check in on them with her when she visits. But the problem is this: since I haven't tended a watermelon garden in some 20 years, I wasn't sure if what I was looking at was a watermelon bud...or a weed. You may remember, last year, I was growing some spectacular ragweed in the front flower bed before realizing just what it was. (They were the biggest few plants in the whole bed; such a shame to rip them out.)
A rather large bee, likely a borer but who takes chances, chased me away so I wandered back inside to check the internet. I typed "what a watermelon plant looks like" into my search engine and click! Rather than the standard search result of photos at the top, sites underneath, I got a lengthy list of websites describing the early and later stages of a watermelon plant. After clicking on a few, I found they were just that - sites describing the identifying features of a watermelon plant. Light green leaves, a little silvery streak. Close to the ground.
Thank you, interwebs. You just put words to just about every weed I've ever seen. And apparently, a watermelon plant. Which I'm still not sure if I have or not.
I had to back all the way out and head through Yahoo's image search engine to find a simple picture. Isn't that a better way to get me to understand what a watermelon plant looks like? (And for the record, it kind of looks like a weed. Now, I'm in trouble.)
It's frustrating, to say the least. But I'm guilty of it. I think we all are.
We're living in a world that wants to know the Answer. There are hearts thirsty for God, searching for something more. And we, who have it and who have seen it and who are familiar with what that looks like, are very eager to start talking. Talking, writing, telling others about Him. Telling them what love looks like. It is patient. It is kind. It is generous.
Thank you, Christians. You just put words to just about every good deed I've ever seen. And apparently, a God. Which I'm still not sure if I have or not.
The best way to get a starving world to understand the Bread of Heaven is to show them. We've done enough talking, and it's not getting anyone anywhere. We have the words - an endless stream of them - that people are clicking on, searching through, reading through, poring through and coming up empty. Still not sure if they've seen God. Still not sure if they'd recognize Him if they saw Him.
But give them a picture of God, and they will know. Not a photograph of dusty man in a beard. Not a caricature of a criminal on a cross. Give them a picture of Love. Give them a picture of Healer. Give them a picture of all God is to you by being that for them.
No, we're not going to get it just right. That's ok. But if I know God as Healer and do nothing more than talk about it, people are going to think that's nice, but they'll never meet the Healer. If I take my peace and scars and meet them at their brokenness and refuse to leave them there, they see Healer and start looking harder for Him. If I know God as Father and talk about how wonderful that is to an orphaned heart, they're never going to understand what that means. But if I encourage and love and honor them the way my Father encourages, loves, and honors me, they're going to see Father and start looking for Him more. If I know God as Love and talk about that love to a woman who stands in the mirror and questions her worth, she'll never understand Love. She won't be able to. But if I stand next to her and show her something new in the mirror, if I handle her heart tenderly and open her eyes to see something more in herself, she's going to see more. She's going to see Love. And she's going to start looking for Him.
We can talk until we're blue in the face, but the world is not going to find God from our descriptors. He could walk right past them, and they would never know. He could stop to help them, and they wouldn't see that it is Him. Or one of the many deceivers that almost looks like God could fool them and lead them further astray. That's why we have to show them. That's why we have to live it out and show them, in no uncertain terms, in no vague words, in no dull, boring, description but in a vibrant photograph a portrait of our God. We have to show them what He looks like...by loving like He loves.
If we can show the world a picture of God, we invite them to see Him. To foster His growth and presence in their lives. The only other choice is for the world to wait and see if their life bears fruit, but by then, it may be too late this season to start over.
What can you do to give your world a picture of God?