By Andy Wade –
How terrible it will be for people who call good things bad and bad things good,
who think darkness is light and light is darkness, who think sour is sweet and sweet is sour.
Isaiah 5:20 (New Century Version)
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the chaos and confusion swirling around us. Before we realize it, we’re caught up in an emotional whirlwind. Oftentimes this whirlwind is filled with misperceptions that lead us into thinking that good is bad, and bad is good.
This can happen in our community as we strive for connected lives and flourishing neighborhoods. We encounter a problem in our community that needs to be addressed. That problem – you know what it is where you live – is causing tension and turmoil. Something has to be done!
Scratching below the surface, we discover the problem is simply a symptom of some deeper issue. And at the root of that issue we usually find people. This is where we need to focus. The creative potential of individuals and groups applied in destructive or divisive ways can manifest as major difficulties in the community. When we simply react to symptoms we fail to see where the image of God is present in the people involved. In our rush to address symptoms we easily discount, even demonize, the people behind them. When this happens, our reaction to the symptoms easily results in crushing the spark of God’s divine presence in those involved and, more often than not, results in the symptoms popping up in other forms.
Until we can slow down enough to untangle the person, the imago dei, from the issues, we risk snuffing out the “smoldering wick” in others while at the same time betraying our call as “ambassadors of reconciliation”.
There’s a weed in our yard, it’s called purslane. Although its roots are not deep, it spreads. In a fit of frustration I yank it out by its roots and, by all appearances, I’ve dealt with the problem. What I fail to realize is that, as I pulled it out, it broadcasts its seeds even further. But here’s the thing: like the dandelion in the photo above, purslane is one of the most nutritious greens in the garden!
Purslane may be a common plant, but it is uncommonly good for you. It tops the list of plants high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus.
Mother Earth News
There is a lesson in all of this, perhaps several lessons. But the one that captivates my imagination is that, in my pragmatic approach to life I can easily lose the wonder. To sit in my yard, or my neighborhood, to just sit and take it all in and marvel at its wonders, here is the beginning of wisdom. God is already present. God is already at work. Even in the most unlikely people and circumstances, God is here.
And here is my challenge for the week: Find a place where you can sit and listen, watch, and wonder.
- How might God be present even in places and people you thought were devoid of the Spirit?
- How might God already be at work?
- What would it look like to enter into that person’s life, or that situation, in a way that embraces the image and touch of God just waiting to be revealed?