Many people are visual learners. God provides all kinds of object lessons in nature that can be translated into principles for life. They’re everywhere; simple nudges from him to encourage us to understand the ways of his heart and to pay attention as to how things work.
For instance look at flowers and how they bloom. We never see flowers opening up in winter or blossoming in the cold weather when the sky is grey with clouds and heavy with rain or snow. We know that when the sun shines and warms the atmosphere buds begin to swell and burst into flower. It’s almost as if they can’t help themselves. We know how to read the signs with indoor plants. If they are wilting they may need more water or be exposed to brighter light. Bulbs lie dormant in the ground and as the season changes so they begin to appear as a natural response to the warming of spring.
Because this annual cycle is predictable as clockwork we know what to look for and what to expect. We don’t anticipate blossoms in winter but we do allow for pruning; fruit emerges after blossoms and when they ripen they fall to the ground. After observing ‘how nature and seasons work’ we begin to plan and have expectations for how a garden will grow and mature in the future. We expect roses to grow on rosebushes and if there was all bush and no rose we would discern a problem with that particular plant.
Transplant this metaphor into the human dimension and we find some interesting parallels when we reflect on our life and growth with Jesus in God’s Kingdom. God’s love revealed through Jesus has the same impact on the human spirit as the sun has on flowers. When we are exposed to the light of his love our hearts open and the flowers of love, joy, peace and other beautiful qualities come alive in our characters and demeanor. Others notice and stop to ‘smell the roses’ – the fragrance of Jesus that is around us – because we bring encouragement and hope. Similarly when we are distant or closed off to God’s love in Jesus we begin to look like a plant or tree in the midst of winter. A skeleton of sorts; everything dormant with little that brings life or joy to others on the outside.
A sign of maturity is being able to read the signs and respond accordingly. Too often we ignore the signs and are denied the joy of blessing or the opportunity to encourage. When we are withdrawn and discouraged the chances are that we have lost sight of God’s love. We need encouragement and help from those around us to step back into his presence so that our hearts can be nurtured and healing can flow. Maybe there’s some pruning that needs to take place in anticipation of a glorious future that will explode as soon as we experience the warmth of his love again. Similarly when God is alive in us it tends to show by our countenance – “They will know us by our love.”
What I’m trying to say is that spiritual discernment, struggles, and growth are not a huge mystery or that difficult to discern. The presence of the sun pulls what is inside out into the open in radiant fashion in the same way that Jesus evokes responses in those who keep company with him. The solution to broken or discouraged human beings is not so much talk but rather helping them soak in the presence of the Son and watch what happens. There ain’t no winter in heaven, and where heaven touches earth the Son/sun always shines drawing out the good even in bad times. Keep close to Jesus and life will flow in you and through you like streams of living water; can’t help it.