faith in roses and rogues

Genus Cistus. Rock Rose, a drought-tolerant shrub with rose-pink to white flowers. Image captured with a Samsung Galaxy S7.
Genus Cistus, rock rose

Two of the unlikeliest associations our minister preached on this past Sunday have some relevance to me this week. Faith we might all generally hold, like the chair we sit in at the movies or in the office will not collapse under us. Or that we will have a job to go to in the morning. But those who have the faith that an omnipotent and omniscient God created the Universe, know that He created us and has a purpose and plan for our lives. The benefits of this faith, is stability in all sorts of circumstances, spiritual wisdom (learning more about God and oneself), and security in knowing there is more than just this brief life.

The second reference the minister made, was the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story , which he called a great example of a small group of people committing their lives for a chance to live in freedom. There are monstrous people in the world committed to destroy others at any personal cost. As disciples of Jesus, we commit to love people, to put our faith in Him, and to live in accord with spiritual Truth. When we fail at some point -as all mankind does – must quickly repent, get help, and recommit to the Good. Like the Empire in Star Wars, the Enemy never ceases to weaken, obstruct, distract from our vow to follow Jesus.

Saw Gerrera: You can stand to see the Imperial flag reign across the galaxy?
Jyn Erso : It’s not a problem if you don’t look up.

dialogue, Rogue One

Gyn’s change from a rogue, without faith or a dream of a better future, to a heroine who decides to act when others doubt, disbelieve, and shrink back is a great story; it is a change of heart, faith and commitment. (Spoiler alert) the story centers on her decision to steal the plans for the Death Star, to enable the Rebellion to find the weakness to destroy it. It is a story of daring and unwavering commitment that will risk her and her rebel companions’ lives.

The point of our minister’s sermon was that we all can grow in our faith, in our knowledge, in our commitment to the vow we took to become disciples of Jesus. Our minister called on those who may have “retired in the faith”, or are “stuck”, complacent, unfulfilled, or starting to doubt God’s promises, to set goals that build ones’ faith.

I was a witness to this in 2018, when a series of difficult circumstances – my health, our youngest adult son was hospitalized with a serious condition, and my wife’s employer suddenly shut the doors, sowing uncertainty and creating opportunities to become fearful. In spite of this, none of us quit on each other. In the midst of this, our eldest son and his wife had our first grandchild – in spite of his early delivery – a healthy child now five months old. Deciding to be consistent and bold in my prayers and exercising the things that strengthen Faith, were as much responsible for seeing us through 2018 as it will be needed for 2019.

The image of this rock rose is from my yard this week. For all of 2018, in spite of some severe drought, heat and difficulties, I never considered that the shrubs, flowers, or trees in my yard would succumb to the elements. Where I could I nurtured them, often I just provided a little care or left them alone. Even the shrubs and fruit tree that had a difficult year are still growing and even thriving. Flowers and the rock rose are healthy. If I have faith that God brings the sun and the rain, and takes care of the plants, I should have the faith that He takes care of me and my family.

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible

Hebrews 11

Translated from the Greek and the Hebrew, the word for faith connotes specific qualities:
• Belief
• Trust
• Confidence
• Stability  
• Firmness

10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.

Isaiah 43: 10

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