In our back flower beds we have two patches of Tiger Lilies. They were there when we bought this house 15 years ago. Every spring they faithfully poke their shoots out of the ground and quickly grow. Sometime in early to middle July they burst into bloom, with their bright orange color taking center stage for several weeks.
This year was no exception, but somehow I thought they didn’t appear to be as strong and as vibrant as in other years. They bloomed later this year, too. They just didn’t seem to be the same old Tiger Lilies that we had enjoyed in previous years.
A couple weeks ago we had a thunderstorm during the night. Between having the windows closed, the air conditioner running, and the dulling effect of sleep, it was hard to tell just how strong the wind blew or how hard the rain fell. I got up that morning, and as soon as daylight hit I opened the kitchen blinds. Instantly I saw it……the patch of Tiger Lilies, stripped bare of their pretty petals and standing there with nothing but their fading leaves. The storm had blown off all the petals. They looked stark and ugly in the morning light.
Every single Tiger Lily stalk was stripped bare of its beauty……except for one. There in the midst of all the sad stalks was one lone Tiger Lily that still carried its orange petals. It was actually only one part of a stalk, but there it was, alone with its blooms…….standing tall in the midst of all the damage surrounding it.
That lonely Tiger Lily stood there for days, even through several other storms, with its petals intact. And every time I looked at it I thought of a verse and I pondered the lessons that this little Tiger Lily was teaching me. The verse: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” And the lessons are many.
I’ve never seen a time when so many are so burdened. I see it in the world……ISIS, Syria, Gaza and Israel, Ferguson…..I don’t need to keep that list going. Even the death of Robin Williams hit many people deeply. It’s exhausting to watch the news.
And then closer to home, in our own families and lives, so many are facing issues of deep concern. Death, illness, financial hardship, marital stress, worries about children, pressures of all sorts, hurts and disappointments……
I don’t mean to sound depressing, but this is just how life is right now for so many. And even for those of us who walk by faith, who trust in the Lord, who try to lean on Him for our needs…..we can find ourselves overwhelmed and ready to just give up. We feel as battered as my bare Tiger Lilies……like our beautiful petals are just about to turn loose and leave us stark and alone. Why read our Bibles? The words seem empty. Why pray? I don’t feel like God is listening and my mind wanders. Why obey? Where has it gotten me?
These are lies of Satan. These are his ways of stripping us of our beauty that Christ has given us, just like my ugly Tiger Lilies that I saw that morning. I find it very interesting that Paul, when he was encouraging the Philippians to keep maturing in their faith, told them to press forward……to forget what’s behind and to reach toward what lies ahead.
Listen to this contrast in Isaiah 1, where Isaiah was describing sinful Israel. He said that they had abandoned the Lord and turned away from Him. Guess what that phrase “turned away” means? It means to estrange themselves backward. Going backward…….pulling away from the Lord and going backward instead of forward.
There’s my single Tiger Lily again……standing up and standing strong no matter what was going on around it. Even when all the other Tiger Lilies let go and gave up, this one stood strong…….like he was pressing forward instead of going backward. And that’s what we need to do. Don’t give up when things get tough! Stay true to God…….keep reading His word…….keep praying…….keep obeying…..keep walking in His ways…….keep trusting. We may not feel like it. We may be tired and discouraged. We may even doubt God. But don’t go backward…..keep going forward.
It reminds me of a verse from the old hymn, The Solid Rock:
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
Stand tall. Stand strong. Look forward. And keep your petals on!