Saturday, August 19, 2006

When the flowers fade

Scrambling to collect the treasures of manna on the ground, the children competed to gather all they could before running back for more. God's daily early morning shower of food was fresh, plentiful and timely. All that was needed was freely provided. The only curse was in ignoring the warning: the shelf life was only 24 hours, and there was to be no gathering on the seventh day.

No problem, they said. Life is good. Let us rejoice and be glad at our generous supply! Eat, drink and be merry. Thirsty travelers then rushed to the cool waters released for them from the rock. Gluttonous complainers almost stampeded to devour quail which deluged the dry land like a flood. Then with the food still in their teeth, God's stinging rebuke reminds us of our pitiful selfish focus. We likewise demand fullfulment of our every need, and we have seldom seriously remembered the One who daily provides for us.

We are blown away by the beauty of awesome natural surroundings. We are dazzled by things rather than by God himself. In the midst of our own pursuits, we forget the One who got us there. We worship the victory, the achievement, the great moments, the prize, all the while refusing to turn our gaze upon the Giver of every good and perfect gift. The breath-taking flowers of the Israeli desert remind us of the glory of Solomon's reign. But the flowers like the grass will shortly fade away as will all the temporary glories of this world.

Where is genuine gratefulness, or the humble thank you to the God of Heaven? Our table grace is no more than lip-service, merely going through the motions to the One who knows even our innermost thoughts!

When the flowers fade, we are reminded of the temporary. Glory is short-lived. Our attachment to the flowers therefore also becomes our reproof. Our treasure is not in flowers, and when they fade, we should not be surprised. If we lament their fading, we have forgotten something. Our attention and affection is in Heaven. We honor Him, provisions or no provisions.

"For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land . . . . When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. . . Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God . . . then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God. . . and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth . . . for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth." (Deuteronomy 8)