[CF Devotionals] 2008-12-16 - Poinsettias vs. Holly

Normally, I’m one of those folks who insist on symmetry and color coordination. The ends of the white garland on my mantel has to be equidistant etc. And I’ve always loved the obvious beauty of “perfect” Poinsettias – be they classic red, surprising pink, or elegant white. I’m used to seeing churches filled with these “perfect” Poinsettias during Advent, placed in perfect columns around the church. But we recently joined a new church, and there were no Poinsettias to be found. Instead, during a recent church service, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the stark, unexpected beauty of a large sprig of holly at the front of the church. So simple. So unsymmetrical. So “not perfect.” But – oh - how breathtakingly beautiful. I believe it’s the loveliest church flower arrangement that I have ever seen.

As I sat there awaiting the sermon, I thought about how much the Holly bush resembles our lives. Our lives, and our Christian walk, are rarely like the Poinsettias, rarely “perfect.” We have uneven edges, and we have circumstantial sprigs sticking out (illnesses, strained relationships, difficulties at work, financial straits, depression). Most of us (if not all) have personal traits that are like unruly sprigs – sprigs of a short temper, a complaining spirit, an addiction, selfishness (which of us can say we have none of that?) etc.

And yet, if you look hard enough, there is beauty there. In the elderly lady who can’t find anything positive to say about anyone, there may be faithfulness to her responsibilities at church, or a fierce, sacrificial love for her family. In the friend who is addicted, if s/he will go to AA or NA, perhaps with prayer and the encouragement of someone just like you, that person can later be used to help other struggling with the addiction.

No matter our imperfections, God can use them to bring beauty to someone’s life. In fact, sometimes God’s “best work” is done via our weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 12:9b (NKJV) My strength is made perfect in weakness.

Or as the Message paraphrases it: My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

What are your unruly sprigs? Ask God to illuminate your inner beauty, and to use it to fulfill His purposes.


[email jan]  cfdevcfpray@yahoo.com