“For I know the plans I have for you,”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah, 29:11-12Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40: 28-31 Thank you, Jesus, for your continued promises – especially from the parking lot. Amen and Amen.
Having finished placing all the printed and electronic communications for worship, I left the church lobby, heading outside through the main glass doors toward my car. It wasn’t that far at all since I parked it right in front; I had plopped all the goodies in it and drove it the 100 or so feet across the street from the office so I didn’t have to carry it all. Yes, I am that person. Besides, it was COLD! The wind was picking up and the December day bristled against my skin. I made a mental note to grab a heavier jacket before I returned for a wedding that evening. I jammed my hands into my hoodie’s front pocket.Walking around the back of my car, I notice a group of four or five different leaves on the driveway. I always seem to find things in parking lots that catch my eye. I’d like to think it is my artistic eye always seeing things from a different perspective, however, my bad habit of looking down, instead of ahead, when I walk is more likely the culprit. Continuing past them, something about them tugs at me, so I turn back to take a closer look. The veining in one of the leaves really grabbed my attention. Looking closer, I became aware the rain from yesterday had evaporated most everywhere except under this mixed band of fallen brothers. It seemed they were clinging to one another in an attempt to stay together. Their foliage was far beyond their original physical properties and close to being completely dead. My heart sunk a bit thinking,” Look at those poor things trying to hold on to what they once were.” By this time, my phone was already out, and camera ready, so I begin composing the image. After quickly taking a few different shots, I put it back in my pocket, got in my car and started the drive home sensing God would speak to me through another round of “Parking Lot Prophecies” He likes to share with me. I settled into the short drive home while the phrase “poor things holding on” lingered in the back of my mind. Coming to a stop sign, I click on my turn signal and look both ways and then merge into traffic. As other vehicles pass, I am gently given contrasting visions; the warmth of Fall and the pronounced veining on the dying leaf. A fleeting sense of summer’s lost beauty and vibrancy cycled through my mind, but, gradually, the anxious feelings faded, and a calm came over me with a quiet whisper from God. He reminded me those leaves are exactly as they should be. In the life they were given, being birthed in the spring, they were to become a catalyst for nourishment to their respective plants. Coming of the winter season holds their next natural progression: they are “pushed off”by the tree to conserve water in preparation for winter slumber. Laying on the ground, they decompose, leaving behind composted nutrients for the ground and other vegetation to use. Why should we try to hold on to our perception of “what we once were” or, for that matter, “what we should be”? Why would we want to be anything but what our Blessed Redeemer has created us for? Why should we question His desire for us? As we Love our Lord, He shows us our beauty–as He sees us. As we have faith and follow God, we begin to understand the freely received Grace He has given us; we see His beauty and purpose in our life and in others. As we serve Him, we rely more on His promises to deliver us – from ourselves and our enemies – freeing us to be detached from anything that would separate us from His presence in our life. This Advent season, revel in His love for you! Shed worldly expectations and norms. Allow yourself to be pushed away from your “what-was” or“what-could-be” so you can fall into the Loving Arms of Jesus and see yourself,truly, beautifully, through His eyes;living the life He waits for you to live.