Moonflower Faith

Image by Francesco Pitarresi from Pixabay

I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. – 1 Timothy 4:7 NIV

 I’d never heard of moonflowers until a friend posted a picture of hers on Facebook. “The blossoms bloom only at night,” she wrote.

Flowers that bloom only in the dark? Intrigued, I did some online research.

Moonflower vines, I learned, can grow up to 20 feet, with 4-to-6-inch white, fragrant blossoms opening in the evening until the following morning.

How like faith—genuine, real, rubber-meets-the-road faith. Faith, I’ve learned, is only faith when you can’t see. When you’re in the dark, not knowing, not in control. When you have no one else to turn to but God.

Have you ever known anyone who possesses such a faith? I did.

To say that Louise was a joyful person was an understatement. Joy bubbled out of her. I rarely saw her without her bright smile and sparkling eyes—and sense of humor. Situations that would give me permission to wallow in self-pity, she managed to find the light side. Like the time she came to church sporting a black eye, caused by the recoil from her hunting rifle. The church pianist, she sat at the keyboard on the platform, laughing as she told us the story.

Louise and her husband, Carl, once led an active, busy life, led by their love for their family, their church, and their Lord. Blessed with musical talent, they often sang together, visiting numerous churches in the area. They produced cassette tapes, offering them for a donation to cover the cost of production.

When Louise was diagnosed with cancer, Carl was chronically ill himself. Since she could no longer take care of him, he went to live in a local nursing home.

Wanting to offer back some of the comfort she’d always given me, I made a batch of chicken soup and took it to her. But she was the one who ministered to me.

“When I woke up this morning,” she said as we sat at her kitchen table, “before I even got out of bed, I lay there, just praising God.”

Photo courtesy of Louise Tucker Jones

Louise lived the words she once sang: “You talk of faith when you’re up on the mountain. Talk comes easy when life’s at its best. But it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations, that’s when faith is really put to the test. The God on the mountain is still God in the valley. When things go wrong, He’ll make it right. And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night.”*

Shortly before she passed away, a month before Carl, I saw some pictures of Louise on Facebook. Her thin frame and head turban told of the battle she waged. But her bright eyes and smile that lit up her whole face told another story—a story of a moonflower faith, its beauty opening to the dark, exuding an unforgettable fragrance into the world around it.

O God, may my faith, too, be a moonflower faith. Amen.

Read and reflect on Hebrews 11.

*From the song, “God on the Mountain” by Tracy Dartt.

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

What Kind of Flower Are You?

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. — Romans 12:12 TEV

My husband and I were at our church’s annual sweetheart dinner, and the men were taking a how-well-do-you-know-your-wife quiz. “What is your wife’s favorite flower?” was one of the questions. He wrote “roses.”

Roses are nice, but they’re not my favorite flower. I tried to come up with my own answer to the question, but the truth was I didn’t have a favorite flower. I didn’t know I was supposed to. I like all flowers, especially wild ones. 

I didn’t give the favorite-flower question much thought until years later. 

“I just love lilacs,” I told DH one day as we sat at the dining room table, the fragrance of lilacs filling the room. “They’re my favorite flower.”

But I had to qualify that.

“For fragrance, that is,” I added. “I like carnations because you can put them in water, and they last for weeks. And I like daisies because they’re such a happy flower.”

“You know,” I continued, “I want to be like those three flowers: fragrant like the lilacs, hardy like the carnation, and happy like the daisy.”  

The more I thought about it, the more I realized those three flowers also symbolize my faith. 

The lilac symbolizes my prayer life. Just as the lilac’s soft fragrance continually fills the air around it, so should my prayers ascend to God like the Old Testament sacrifices described as a “pleasing aroma,” a “sweet-smelling savor,” or a “fragrant offering” to the Lord. As I love to stand next to my lilac bush when it’s covered with blossoms, inhaling the heady scent, so I imagine God inhaling the sweet scent of my prayer offerings to Him. 

The carnation symbolizes endurance. Hardy, even for black-thumbed me, the carnation doesn’t need babied. But too often I’m like the rose—I want to be beautiful for God, but I have to be pampered if I’m to last. When life’s circumstances heat up, I whine, pout, and wilt. The Christian life isn’t a flower shop, where perfect conditions are cultivated for the flowers to thrive. It’s more like the world outside, where weather conditions can change in a moment, and endurance is necessary if I’m to thrive for God.

Finally, for me, the daisy symbolizes the joy that comes from hope. Such a little word and so often dwarfed next to its giant big brother faith, hope is my song in the night. It’s what keeps me going in the tough times, what keeps me putting one step in front of the other on this long, hard journey called life. Hope in my heart is what puts the smile on my face. Hope is knowing that although there may be tears in the night, joy will come with the morning light. And morning always comes.

 Lord, help me to be fragrant like the lilac, hardy like the carnation, and happy like the daisy. Amen.

 MORE TEA: Read and reflect on Romans 12.

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

Images courtesy of Pixabay.com. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.