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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sabbath Rest: the Lily and the Quaker

Today's excerpt is from that quaint Quaker author, Hannah Whitall Smith, whose classic book, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, offers such a beautiful study of grace and growth as exemplified by the lily. Some texts are like sitting down in a classroom. Hers are more like a sweet conversation over tea on the back porch that hovers over the very lilies she looks to as she reflects on her simple walk of faith...

To grow in grace is opposed to all self-dependence, all legalism of every kind...It is to be so sure of our divine Gardener, and of His skill and wisdom, that it will never cross our minds to question his plan of cultivation. It is to grow as lilies grow--without a care and without anxiety; to grow by an inner power that cannot help but grow, to grow because He who has planted us has planted a growing thing, and has made us to grow.

[Lilies] don't stretch or strain, or make any sort of effort to grow; they aren't even conscious they that they are growing. They grow by a power contained within, together with the nourishment and care provided by gardener.

All our toiling and spinning to make ourselves beautiful spiritual garments...will accomplish nothing. No spiritual garment of our own making can ever equal the beautiful dress with which God clothes the plants that grow in the soil of His grace.

I am not trying to belittle the importance of growth, but to make you understand that the only effective way to grow is God's way. See that you are planted in grace and then let God cultivate you in His own way only by His own means. Open yourself to the sunshine of His presence, and to the rain and the dew of heaven. Leaves, flowers and fruit must surely come in their season; for the Lord is a skillful Gardener, and His harvest never fails.
But make certain that your life contains no barriers against God's sun and rain. The thinnest covering over a plant may serve to shield it from both, so that the plant withers even in the best soil. Just so, the slightest barrier between your soul and Christ may cause you to dwindle and fade, like a plant kept in a cellar or under a basket. Keep your life clear of every such barrier. Open up your whole being to receive every influence the Lord may bring to bear upon you. Bask in the sunshine of His love. Drink the waters of His goodness. Like a sunflower, keep your face turned toward Him.

Happy growing!

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