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.

The Birds of the Air

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019 Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” –Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

 It was literally the birds of the air that caught my attention one morning during my quiet time.

The morning temperatures were still warm enough to sit out on the back deck and absorb the peacefulness of the woods behind my house. I’d not slept well the night before, my mind whirring with worries.

I know—Christians aren’t supposed to worry, right? But life slams Christians, too. What makes it different for us is how we respond to it.

And I wasn’t responding very well. Not as well as I thought I would. It’s easy to spout Scripture when things are going relatively smoothly. But when the storms come, the winds tear at your faith, and the waves crash over your resolve to stand firm, it’s all you can do to hang on.

Scripture tells us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and He’ll sustain us (Psalm 55:22). It’s one thing to read those words; it’s another story entirely to do them.

Now, I’m good at casting. The problem is I keep reeling the burden back in. And casting it out again. And reeling it back in.

That night I cast my burden on the Lord by presenting Him with the whole list of what was worrying me. I claimed Philippians 4:19—that God will supply all that I needed. And, in keeping with Luke 11:9, I asked. I sought. I knocked.

Now if only I could leave the response to Him.

But no. I awoke the next morning with the burden still heavy on my mind, heart, and spirit.

The little gray bird flitting from limb to limb caught my eye first. Then the robin, worm still in its beak.

“Look at the birds of the air,” I heard God say. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)

I looked up the Scripture—Matthew 6:25–34. Three times Jesus said, “Do not worry.”

And I remembered Philippians 4:6—“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything.”

I did the second part of that verse—“pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” But peace still eluded me. Because I kept reeling those worries back in again and again.

“Worry is like a rocking chair,” motivational speaker Glenn Turner noted. “It gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.”

I’m not good at sitting and waiting for God to work. I have to be doing something—anything but be still.

“I have come, that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). Abundant life.

And worry compromises that abundant life by siphoning your hope, your joy, and your energy, and replacing them with anxiety, insomnia, tension, and irritability. In other words, you’re no fun to live with.

So, how do we deal with worry?

First, recognize where it comes from: the enemy of our souls, a lack of trust in God, and a weak faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Second, respond to it by praying: cast your burdens on the Lord and leave them there!

Prioritize that worry list. Determine what’s most important and, with prayer, deal with that.

And finally, live in the present.

“Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once,” said Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. “It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.”

Look at your calendar. See that square marked today? Focus on that. Live in one square at a time.

Do you dwell on the what if’s?

Do you focus on the worst-case scenario?

Do you lie awake at night because your worries are whirring through your mind and you just can’t put them to bed?

Maybe, like me, you need more practice with your casting—and learning not to reel them back in.

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.  –Psalm 94:18–19 ESV

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:25–34.

 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019, by Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.  Click here to see more outdoor shots.