I recently ventured to Trader Joe’s for the first time since the stay-at-home order was implemented for North Carolina. While the workers were friendly and the store had good protocols to create efficiency while also maintaining safe distances, the experience was overwhelming and utterly exhausting. After an emotional discussion with my husband on how the status of the world was affecting me, I was ready to collapse. I couldn’t shake the feeling that everything is “not normal,” but I had purchased some beautiful flowers and I set my mind to arranging them.
I focused on the deep plum and vibrant orange ranunculus, mixing the stems with sprays of silver dollar eucalyptus and placing them in an old-fashioned pitcher. I allowed the arrangement to look wild and untamed. I wanted the feel of an English garden, and I have little skill when it comes to arrangements, so I embraced the imperfection. I was pleased with the result and proudly set it on the bar in my tiny apartment. The therapy of the work boosted my spirits and revived me a little.
The arrangement captivated me. Throughout the next day, I caught myself stopping to stare at its beauty at least a dozen times. I was finding some peace in the delicacy of the flowers, the haphazardness of the eucalyptus, and the general feeling of life coming from them. In this season of fear and isolation, it is easy to not feel quite alive. Nothing is normal. We are merely surviving. Yet the beauty and the stillness of the flowers helped remind me of normalcy. And they reminded me of the constancy of God.
I’ve been reading in 1 Peter lately and these verses caught my attention:
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
–1 Peter 1: 24-25
Peter is quoting from Isaiah 40 as he encourages his readers to pursue holiness, brotherly love, and confidence in salvation. (I highly encourage you to read Isaiah 40 for yourselves.) But these verses stood out because here I had my own set of flowers, sitting in a pitcher in my kitchen, as a visual representation of what the word was saying.
God spoke to me with these flowers. He reminded me of His presence, love, and care through their beauty. It is a gift to enjoy beautiful things! The Creator delights in His creation, and so should we. He reminded me that these flowers would not hold their beauty long – plants are often a good reminder of the cycle of life and death-bringing new life again – but that the process of new life is a fruitful one. And He reminded me that, though these flowers last but a little while, His word remains forever.
In Isaiah, where these verses originated, the prophet reminds us that we serve the everlasting God. He is an everlasting God with an everlasting word, who, with that word, spoke the world into existence. It is difficult for us to grasp the concept of “forever.” You and I have such a finite timeline. But for God and His word to go on forever and ever, to have no end, is a tremendous thought indeed!
When we are stuck at home under the orders of our government, in fear of a virus that could cause bodily harm to ourselves and those we love, we can depend on this good word that never changes and never fades. We can depend on the everlasting God. The Bible has been kept whole for us across centuries, languages, and translations. I often think of this amazing fact that we do not have to read in the original language to understand its treasures. Combined with the Spirit at work within us, we can read the Bible in our own language and it is as true today as it was two thousand years ago.
The Word is living and active. And this same Word that remains forever is the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us – Jesus Christ, Son of God. When we feel like we are only “half living” in these uncertain, unusual times, we have a living Word and a living Savior who conquered the grave. He will walk with us.
I have been drained and exhausted from being stuck at home, but I want the Word to breathe new life into my soul. I want to remember that it remains forever and find the peace, security, and constancy in that promise. I want to be renewed by it, to let it wash over me and transform me. I don’t want this season to be wasted. I want to emerge walking in the fullness of His life.