Holy, Holy, Holy

The word holy may evoke images of Mary and Moses, but it simply means readiness, ripeness, or maturity. Ripening is never an easy process, but the result is love that doesn’t depend upon circumstances for its sweetness. My son and daughter-in-law were raving about some peaches a friend had given them. They were from Georgia and tasted the way a peach should taste. The image reminded me of Christians who reflect Christ’s precious love. Like that Georgia peach, they are who God created them to be and delight those around them.

The world is filled with people and produce that are poor imitations of what they should be. Nothing is more bitter than an unripe persimmon, and sour grapes contort the countenance and the stomach. I hate buying beautiful fruit that tastes horrible when I take a bite.

Immature fruit and immature believers require time and love to ripen, but God knows holiness is worth the wait. Anyone who has eaten a peach picked in a Georgia orchard knows what a peach truly is. Those who come to the mountains of North Carolina in the fall for juicy, ripe apples understand what an apple should be. Watermelons from a field in South Carolina defy description. As a Christian, I am called to be holy; but I shy away from that call because I think it means I must be perfect. 2 Timothy 1:9 makes it clear that holiness isn’t about works or perfection. It is about God’s grace.

“who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,” (NASB)

No one ever grew a tomato as delicious as the ones my father grew in the little garden behind our house.  The taste of that first tomato sandwich in July was well worth the long wait, but daddy ruined me when it came to tomatoes because none meet his high standards. He saved the seeds from his tomatoes and planted them in the spring. They were seeds from his father’s farm and probably from his grandfather’s before that. Heirloom is the term used to describe such tomatoes, and that is precisely what they were. I knew my granddaddy’s tomatoes because I knew my daddy’s tomatoes, and I know God’s love because I know His Son’s precious love.

I fall short when it comes to being the Christian I should be, but I do try to love as Christ loved. I’ve stopped trying to be perfect because I know God wants me to be ready, not perfect. Perfection will only come when I am in His presence. I think the world is excessively hard on Christians, and no one bashes Christians more than those who call themselves Christians or use some other term that means the same thing. I imagine a bad experience caused the disdain, but I do wish they would stop bashing and start loving.

I’ve stopped expecting tomatoes to taste like daddy’s, but I do have a glimmer of hope each time I find an heirloom tomato that resembles one of daddy’s. I plan to keep on looking for that elusive tomato because the alternative is to stop eating tomatoes and go around talking about how much I miss the good old tomatoes of the past. I’m sure others would soon tire of my tirades just as I tire of the tirades against Christians. Watching those little seeds grow and waiting anxiously for them to ripen was a lot of what made them so special. I was invested in those tomatoes, and I knew them personally. The love daddy had for those tomatoes was a bigger part. Anyone who knew Foy Holden, knew how much he loved his tomatoes. I pray I will have the same love for God’s children, especially those who are not yet ripe.

I haven’t found a perfect Christian, and I’m not looking for one because I know God isn’t looking for one either.

Jesus Smiling

Wishdom or Wisdom?

I’ve preferred wishdom to wisdom most of my life because wisdom requires facing reality while wishing allows me to live in a fantasy world of my making. Snow White’s  “I’m Wishing” could be my theme song. I longed for someone to come along, wake my heart from its deep sleep, sweep me off my feet, and carry me into the sunset. As a child, I remember thinking I belonged somewhere other than where I was. I imagine my early experiences laid the foundation for fairy tale fantasies that flowed freely and followed me into my adult life.

I lived in a world of my own making as a child, a world of wishing. Wishdom was all the world wasn’t. I was safe and loved there, so I ran there when the world got to be too much for my heart to handle. Wishdom promises a happy ending as long as I endure and believe. Like Snow White, I put on a smile, wished, waited, and missed a lot of life.

Wisdom can be hard on the heart, but truth is tempered by love. The tempering may be uncomfortable at times, but its refining fire restores and reclaims. God’s Word is filled with powerful wisdom that often seems lost on those who claim to be Christians. It is too often picked over and pulled into pieces.  It’s easier to fight over God’s Word than live by it.

I wonder what Jesus would make of the titles Christian, Christ Follower, or whatever those who believe Him to be the Son of God choose to call themselves at any given time. I think Christ would prefer that we focus upon God’s love. He continuously pointed to God, the Father, and bid those following to do the same. John 13:3 says,

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,” (NASB)

In Matthew 24:36, Jesus makes it clear that God is the One in control when He speaks of His own return.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (NASB)

I do not begin to understand the Trinity and am very suspicious of anyone who says they do. I do know that Christians get lost in their labels and arguments. God is the source of all wisdom, and I am the source of all wishdom. God will let me dwell in whichever realm I desire. Wishdom is tempting because I don’t have to do anything but dream and sing and smile. Wisdom requires learning, growing, and going where He bids when I don’t understand.

The choice of where I dwell will always be mine. Wishing offers a wonderful place to lie down, look up, and wait; wisdom offers experience. The definition of wisdom is simply “the quality of having experience.” There’s nothing wrong with a little wishing as long as it stays in its proper place and doesn’t pretend to be wisdom or keep me from the experiences God has for me.

I'm WishingPhoto Credit: Disney