“Look at all that beauty!” I thought to myself as I drove by the fallow winter field.
Tall, gangly sunflowers, slightly stooped, and in all likelihood stripped bare by hungrily harvesting chipmunks, stood in a huddled threesome at each corner of a fenced-off garden spot. I love sunflowers in all their seasons, but it would never have occurred to me to place them so beautifully that even in death they were decorative.
I have made peace with my ineptitude for making beauty happen with flowers. That doesn’t mean I don’t plant them all over the place and then cheer as they grow — I’ve learned to delight in their wild elegance and vivid colors. However, I have found that my bouquets tend to be lackluster and awkward affairs which I’ve started calling “poke-ays” because they look as if I just poked the flowers into the vase. (Oddly enough, my artistic friends say that’s all they do too, but with very different results.)
There was a time when this really irritated me, but these days, I’m feeling blessed rather than threatened by my gifted sisters in Christ who arrange flowers and curate spaces of beauty in their homes and in our church. Rather than feeling diminished by their abilities, I’m enhanced — and, best of all, I’m invited into the truth of I Peter 4:11:
“If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.”
Any spiritual gift or ability is evidence of the work of Christ in the believer, and, when put on display, it becomes a platform for God’s glory. Encouraged by the successful and glorious efforts of my friends, I spend summer and fall hauling in armloads of whatever’s growing in my garden or whatever I find that’s showcasing the work of God’s hand in the fields behind my house. Then I labor over my “poke-ays” without fear of failure or humiliation. After all, the “magnificently varied grace of God” (v. 10) is being put on display in other ways in my life. It’s God’s job to distribute the gifts — it’s our job to use them.
Meanwhile, my talented sisters in Christ glorify God in ways that might not have occurred to me if left to myself:
- The patient fortitude of my friend who ministers to kids in an after school Bible club
- The loving heart of helpfulness that motivates a dear wife to care for her blind husband and his mother
- The holy boldness of the woman who witnesses to the unsuspecting delivery drivers who come to her home and who gives gifts of food to a struggling clerk she meets in passing at a drug store
- Our beautiful pastor’s wife who transforms flower, butter, eggs and sugar into magnificent cakes that enhance celebration and delight the honored guest
- The sweet friend who came racing into church at the last minute with just the right bow for the flower arrangement on the piano