Look at the lilies in the field. See how they grow. They don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon, the great and rich king, was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. If God makes what grows in the field so beautiful, what do you think he will do for you? – Mathew 6:28-30
Friday afternoon, pulling the day’s collection of bills, ads, and other junk from the mailbox by the street, I noticed a beautiful new bloom on the “heritage” day lilies Rebekah’s sister, Rachel, gave us last fall. The deer have, mercifully, left them alone (so far) and – just one or two at a time – they’re putting on a show.
Of course I grabbed my iPhone and captured the image. The photograph was pretty, but there was something missing. Then I stepped back and realized that, lovely as the lily is, it needs context to do it justice, so I clicked one more time.
LILIES OF THE FIELD: I didn’t think any more about it until I downloaded in the evening, and looked at the two pictures side-by-side. That’s when the Bible came to mind.
Too often we take a close-up of a short passage of scripture, or even one isolated verse, and try to make it tell the whole story – or worse yet try to make the whole story fit into the one verse.
It dawned on me that I can’t really understand the lily without the view of the garden, and the house where we live, and the story behind the cultivation, and the gift, and the replanting, and the growing, and the watering, and the blooming….
In scripture any close up needs to be considered – weighed and balanced – in terms of the great themes that unite the entire collection of writings. The sixty-six books comprise a vast collage of images; it’s the narrative history of the Hebrew people’s struggle to understand God, and – eventually – it becomes the story of God’s incarnation, designed to cut through the red tape and heal the broken relationship once and for all.
It’s such a big picture, this work of redemption revealed throughout the pages of the scriptures. Its great themes are the reconciling initiatives of God, the love that our Creator has for each one of us, our consummate need for God’s grace, the victory of light over darkness, and the redemptive work of Jesus that makes us whole again.
That is the context in which every story must be presented, every judgement calibrated, every teaching considered, every invitation received, and every promise lived.
Still learning, still growing, still following the Living Way – DEREK