It’s Lilac Time

Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. –2 Corinthians 2:15 (NLT)

When we first moved to the country, my mother-in-law gave me a small lilac bush, an offshoot of one that grew in her yard. I planted it in the ground at the front corner of the house, upwind, so the soft spring breezes would carry the heady fragrance of the flowers through open windows. After being closed up all winter, I reasoned, the house would smell fresh and clean. 

It didn’t quite work out that way. The first few years, the bush grew, but not the flowers. The transplant needed to take to the soil and grow a strong root system before it would blossom.

Then there were the years an early spell of warm, summer-like weather coaxed the buds out, but then a heavy frost would freeze the blossoms. We still got flowers, just not as many. 

Each year, the bush grew taller and fuller. Each year, I’d open my windows, but somehow the sweet scent of lilacs didn’t fill the house as I’d envisioned – until 25 years after I planted it. Perhaps the bush needed time to mature. Fragrant purple blossoms now cover the bush, which is nearly 20 feet high and 10 feet across, dominating that corner of the yard. And the sweet smell of lilacs fills my home day and night. At last.

My lilac bush and I are alike. When I first became a Christian, I wanted to set the world on fire for Christ. I was bold, enthusiastic, hungry for God-knowledge, and wanting to share what I had with everyone around me. I had dreams of packing up my guitar on going on the road, singing the songs I wrote and telling audiences about God. Didn’t Jesus tell command us to go into all the world and tell others about Him? 

But things didn’t work out the way I’d envisioned. Three months after I told God I’d do anything for Him, I was pregnant with our third child. No going into all the world for me. My guitar would have to idle in a forgotten corner, my music on a dusty shelf, while my fingers busied themselves, not with plucking strings, but diapers, dishes, dust rags, and dirty clothes. 

But those were good years – in hindsight, the best years of my life. I spent a lot of time in the Word and on my knees. Like the lilac bush, I needed time to mature, to grow my roots deep in Him, to weather the extremes of life. Funny, but now that my children are grown and I have the time and opportunity to do what I dreamed of so many years ago, I find myself wanting not to go into the world, but to stay home. 

But God has spent decades getting this lilac bush ready to do what He called me to do (and it’s not singing), and I must obey His call. It’s lilac time.

Dear God, let my life be a sweet-smelling fragrance to the world around me. Amen.

Read and reflect on 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.

© 2011, 2023 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image by Nicky ❤️🌿🐞🌿❤️ from Pixabay

False Notes

Image by Joanjo Puertos Muñoz from Pixabay

 Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me.” — Isaiah 6:8 NIV

Nervously I fingered my clarinet. It wasn’t every practice the high school band director stood right behind me. When the song ended, his booming voice filled the gym.

“Maddock!” he yelled. “How do you expect to play the song when you aren’t hitting the right notes?”

I’d been found out. 

After my father’s job layoff a few years earlier, my parents had to make every dollar stretch. I knew better than to ask for fun money. But I didn’t want to be left out, so when I got to high school, I came up with a plan that would enable me to attend the football games.

I knew the band director was seeking more members. I also knew the band got in the games free. So the summer before I started high school, I borrowed a clarinet from my sister’s boyfriend and began to teach myself how to play. 

Accepted into the band—I didn’t have to try out; he was that desperate for more members—I struggled to keep up with the more accomplished players. When I came to a note I didn’t know how to play—and there were plenty of those—or when the tempo of the song was too fast for me, I simply pretended to hit the notes.

But now my deception was discovered. It was truth time. I took a deep breath and answered, “I don’t know where they are, sir.”

The entire band, director included, erupted in laughter. By the time I was a senior, I’d moved up from the third to the first section. 

If I’d waited until I felt comfortable and accomplished—until I thought I was “good enough”—I would have missed out on what became the most memorable and fun experiences of my high school years. 

The same is true in life. While it’s good to be prepared, sometimes we just need to take the plunge, learning as we go. Our performance doesn’t have to be flawless before we can make a meaningful contribution to the world in which we live. We’re going to hit false notes, but, like the band director who didn’t give up on me, God doesn’t give up on us. Instead He lovingly gives us the song of our lives, note by note.

 When I feel intimidated and unsure of myself, remind me, Lord, You don’t need perfect vessels, only willing ones. Amen.

 Read and reflect on Isaiah 6:1–8.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.