She watched through the passenger window as the trees and bushes rushed past. Everything was so brown. She felt herself grieving for what she had left behind. Her home, her garden, her pets. “It’s only temporary,” she reminded herself. “I will be going back there later today.” But that didn’t change her feelings. What she saw at the moment completely dominated her thoughts, overriding the hope of what she’d see in the future.
When they arrived at the church, everyone got out of the car and went inside. Her eyes, however, were distracted by the brown bushes at the edge of the parking lot. There was something different about these bushes than the ones she had seen on the side of the road.
She walked over to it for a closer look. The bushes were actually individual plants growing in clumps. The leaves of each plant grew from the base and were tightly compacted around the center. All she could see were the tips of the inner leaves surrounded by the long narrow outer leaves. They were all brown.
Thinking it was dead, she grabbed one stalk near its base and with a quick stroke of the small machete she carried, she severed it from its roots. Still holding it at its base, she absentmindedly began chopping off the tight brown leaves near the top. As she meandered across the parking lot, she looked at the trees in the distance. Their leaves were also brown. The amount of deadness that seemed to surround her contributed to her feelings of melancholy.
She thought about her garden at home. Some of the leaves on her evergreen trees and bushes had also become brown from the cold winter. She would have to trim those when she got home.
She glanced back at the plant in her hand as she continued to cut off the tops of the outer leaves and was startled to sees a tiny bit of green peeking out from the center. With slower, more precise chops, she cut off more of the brown, being careful not to touch the green. Soon she had cleared enough of the dead, brown leaves to reveal the tender green of new leaves growing in the center. This plant was not dead.
“I’ve got to get it back in the ground so it can continue to grow” she thought as she walked briskly back to where she had found it. “But how? I have no shovel with me.”
But then she saw that the place where she had cut the plant. Instead of the leftover root base, she found a fresh hole as if she had pulled the plant up by its roots instead of chopping it at its base. Quickly she set the plant into the hole and spread the loose dirt around it, patting it down firmly.
Feeling encouraged, and leaving the plant alone as she should have done from the beginning, she went into the church.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond comparison as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Cor 4”16-18
… The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
These Bible verses talk about the hearts of individual people. But I think we can also apply them to our country. When all we can see around us is “brown” – crime, inflation, deception, greed, etc. – we can quickly grow depressed. How much better to focus on what we can’t see – God’s involvement in our lives as well as the lives of others around us and on our future with Him in heaven – than on the temporary conditions of our present world. Learning to see as God sees can make a huge difference in our lives, both in how we feel and in how we act.
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:10-12
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:30-32