|My Neighbor's Lilies|
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses anxiety. He tells people to simplify their lives and trust God in order to have a more contented, and less troubled spirit. Using examples like birds that do not store away in barns and yet are fed by God, Jesus encourages believers to quietly trust that God will take care of them. In Matthew 6:28 (ESV), Jesus says, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.” Today, I’d like to take a few minutes to do just that.
My next door neighbor has a bed of beautiful lilies on the border between her property and mine. They are so attractive that people have stopped by my house, hoping to get some tips on flower-growing. I do not, however, possess my neighbor’s gardening mojo. Instead of a green thumb, I have a black thumb. Everything I have ever tried to grow has died. So if you want real tips, talk with my neighbor. Still, there are some basics to growing lilies that anyone can understand.
The Gardener’s Supply Company website[i] says: “Though lilies look like they'd be fussy plants, they are actually very easy to grow. They're not particular about soil type or pH and they grow well in full sun, part sun, dappled shade and even light shade.” If we “consider the lilies, how they grow,” then we can learn something about the adaptability of the lily. In the larger context of Jesus’ sermon about contentment and trust, the easy-growing quality of the lily reminds Christians not to be so fussy about life’s imperfect situations or changing conditions. Knowing that the Master Gardener has planted us just where He wants us, we can grow with faith and without fuss.
On her website “The Lily Garden,”[ii] Judith Freeman gives the following suggestions for planting lilies:
Lilies will bring beauty, color and fragrance to your garden for many years; they only require you to plant them in the right place and provide for their simple needs. Choose a well-drained location with at least half a day of sunshine. If it’s too shady, the stems will stretch and lean towards the sun; trumpet lilies are the most shade sensitive. Lilies love full sun, as long as the bulbs are deep enough to keep cool when temperatures soar. They also enjoy a mulch.
Lilies may be adaptable, but they thrive best when planted properly. They prefer partial shade to full sun, but if they’re planted in too much shade, they’ll reach toward the sun in order to get what they need. In the same way, God created us with the ability to reach toward Him. Ultimately, God wants ideal situations for our lives, but when real life does not offer the ideal, the Lord has given us the remarkable ability to reach toward Him and receive the energy of His love.
Lilies like to be planted deep in the ground, so that cool soil can protect them in summer’s heat. Mulch also offers a security blanket for these growing flowers. For the Christian, growing like a lily means making sure that we’re planted deep. Reaching upward toward God—soaring to spiritual heights through worship and prayer—these are essential to the growth of the soul. But God’s people need to be deeply in love with Him and deeply connected with the community of faith. They need to reach deep inside themselves in order to discover who they are in Christ and who God wants them to become. Spiritual depth insulates them from the world’s harshness. It gives them good soil in which to grow.
Growing like a lily means trusting God’s provision. In Matthew 6:28-30 (ESV), Jesus says that lilies neither toil nor spin. “Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” It’s easy to get sidetracked with all the things we think we need, but people of faith who practice simple reliance on God know that their Father cares enough to give them what they need.
“Consider the lilies,” Jesus said. Consider how they grow. Romans 1:20 (ESV) says that God’s “ invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” The world around us gives spiritual lessons if we will listen to nature’s voice. I pray that you’ll consider the lilies—that you’ll pay attention as God reveals His nature to you through what has been made. I pray that you’ll trust the Creator to take as good care of you as He does the flowers of the field.
[i] “The Basics: Lilies.” http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/growing-lilies/5326.html. August 28, 2014.
[ii] Freeman, Judith. The Lily Garden. “Growing Lilies.” 2013. http://www.thelilygarden.com/pages_general/growing_lilies.html. August 30, 2014.