by Summer Gross
I took up residence all week on a beach towel, glancing up at the kids digging holes in the wet sand and soaking in the warmth of Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey. In it, he prepares a banquet of mentors our culture (and myself) is in desperate need of.
On page 61, I was introduced to the Surgeon, Dr. Paul Brand, and his humility mixed with compassion mixed with intellectual excellence.
Ahhhh, breathe it in…how fresh and rare!
So far, of all the rich stories stirred throughout the book, my favorite is of Dr. Brand spending hours preparing and then preaching a Canterbury-worthy sermon to 6 half-deaf lepers at his hospital chapel on Sunday mornings.
All through his life, whether replacing tendons in hands or writing papers that never seemed to go anywhere, he was holding up a mirror, through integrity and excellence and love, reflecting a bright light back to God in the midst of almost total unanimity.
One of my greatest lies (you can read more about it HERE) was that I needed to prove my worth by doing something great for God [read: important, visible, measurable, ie write a book, build a church, go on tour, etc( LOL, I know, when I write it out in black on white, the crazy begins to leak out)].
The lie was spoken by those who thought this would be great inspiration: “Summer, you are going to do great things for God!” They could not have known the steep road toward perfectionism and pride that trail ironically pointed to.
Back in April at Calvin College at the Festival of Faith and Writing I saw Ann Voskamp and she didn’t just speak, she prophesied over us chicken scratching word crafters. While she read her talk from her iphone with her characteristic intensity, I wept unselfconsciously, silently hungry for God’s Word that she mixed liberally with encouragement.
One of her beautiful photographs was blown up on a two story screen in back of her, a child’s hand, with a seed in the middle. She told us to plant seeds deep into the soil, into the darkness, assigning them back over to God to grow or die.
Much of living, loving, ministering and even writing often feels like planting seeds into the darkness.
And so this is what I am being healed into: the simplicity of pure, unadulturated love…the difficult 1 Corinthian 13 kind, children and husband and neighbors and strangers whether or not that love boomerangs back. A seed here. A seed there. A seed pressed in deep into cold, dark places there.
But it is THIS next quote that keeps me loving lavishly without concern for numbers. From Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds Feed on High Places, pg 56-57:
“Sometimes the Shepherd and Much-Afraid walked over patches of thousands of tiny little pink or mauve blossoms, each minutely small and yet all together forming a brilliant carpet, far richer than any seen in a king’s palace.
Much-Afraid looked at him earnestly. “I have often wondered about the wild flowers,” she said. “It does seem strange that such unnumbered multitudes should bloom in the wild places of the earth where perhaps nobody ever sees them and the goats and the cattle can walk over them and crush them to death. They have so much beauty and sweetness to give and no one on whom to lavish it, nor who will even appreciate it.”
The look the Shepherd turned on her was very beautiful. “Nothing my Father and I have made is ever wasted,” he said quietly, “and the little wild flowers have a wonderful lesson to teach. They offer themselves so sweetly and confidently and willingly, even if it seems that there is no one to appreciate them…
Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love’s flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends.”
Our seeds can redeem and renew the earth…become God-delight, and then, create great fragrant carpets of the Kingdom of God.
Have you been despondent lately with your seed sowing?…or is your striving starting to exhaust you? What type of seed packet does your seeds come from and where are they finding soil? Join the Conversation and Comment below.
And you, are you following along with the Cross-shaped Evangelism series? Find the posts you missed here.