[CF Devotionals] 2010-11-16 - Ugly Bushes

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (NASB)

When we moved into our new home several years ago, we were pleased with everything except for some of the landscaping that our builder had chosen for the front yard. The flowers on the shrubs were small and plain, and the plants shed all over the place. They were, to put it simply, ugly bushes.

My plan was that as soon as the water restrictions were lifted (drought-related), we'd replace the ugly bushes with something more colorful, vibrant, more beautiful. We'd plant hyacinths, roses or something else of beauty. But before we had the opportunity to plant something lovely to behold, I noticed one of our regular hummingbirds (residents during the Summer) enjoying the nectar of the tiny flowers. Uh-oh. Then it continually got worse. The ugly bush bloomed long after it was supposed to (or rather, what we expected), providing additional food (we provide three feeders) to the migrant hummingbirds. Then we saw that the Juncos and Chipping Sparrows were using the bushes for shelter at night. Turns out, that the ugly bushes are also evergreen. (Sigh) I obviously had to make my peace with the ugly bushes, for there was no way that I could take them away from the birds.

We all have some ugly bushes in our lives - things or people we'd like to toss away and replace. Some would like a prettier home; others long for a more exciting job. Sadly, some would like to trade in a longtime spouse for a newer model. Perhaps your ugly bush is a physical "blemish" such as freckles, slow metabolism (yes, it's real and medically documented, contrary to what some would have you believe), a short stature - or a painful memory. For many, it's a difficult person, who is a "thorn in the flesh." Just as the ugly bushes provide nurture and shelter for our birds, our own personal ugly bushes can be used by God, to teach us, to mold us, to prepare us for later blessings and opportunities. I encourage you to join me in thinking about our "ugly bushes," and asking God how He wants to use them to make our life, or others lives', more beautiful.