“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” (1 Pe 1 22-25)
I was on a mission trip to Switzerland in May, staying at a Bible college up in the hills overlooking a lake, facing some prominent peaks of the Alps. I was walking down a path one morning to check out the bird life, having read the above passage from1 Peter before I left. In all the times I have read that scripture, I had never thought about “the flower of the grass,” until this moment when I found myself standing in it, looking across the valley at the view which the photo above captures a corner of. I took the picture from where I stood with the flower of the grass at my feet, the Bible school behind me, representing the enduring Word of God, looking across the valley at the beauty and majesty of God’s creation, drinking in liquid bird song and the flutter of butterflies among the wildflowers, drenched in peace, and above all feeling cradled in the love of the one who had made it all. After nearly 40 years in the Lord, I felt the Father’s love in a new, intimate way that morning. And while I was standing there trying to contemplate the majesty of my loving Father through this tiny fragment of His creation the thought occurred to me: the flower of the grass doesn’t even last anything like as long as the grass itself. And this is as much as our glory is worth!
The thoughts tumbled in: how often do we try to elevate ourselves with our opinions, our superior “wisdom,” our spirituality, our ”rightness” – especially our rightness? But our glory is no more than the flower of the grass at my feet compared with the glory of God in all His majesty and the eternal truth of His Word, and my opinions are of no more value by comparison than a used bus ticket buried in the folds of my pocket. “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.” And yet we carry within us the glory of the One who made the mountains. How can I possibly offer people my bus tickets instead of letting them know something of the love, the peace and the glory that has been poured out into my heart by the Holy Spirit of Creator Father God? Why do I even look at them?
Without love, we stand alone, and all we manifest is what is corruptible; the flower of the grass. When we reach out in love to others we can manifest the glory of God and the incorruptible truth of His word, quickened by the power of His Spirit. Switzerland is full of waterfalls. I was telling a wise friend about my experience on the hillside, and likened the idea of standing in the flow of God’s love to standing under a waterfall (I am hardly the first person to do so…) My friend said “A waterfall pours into a pool, then flows out of it. Our job (actually he said “your job,” but it applies to all of us) isn’t to try and direct the flow of the water, but just to stand beneath it. It will take its own course out of the pool.”
Our hearts are that pool. The love of God has been poured into them (Romans 5:5), and it pours out as rivers of living water (John 7:38). I don’t think we can truly love unless we stand under that waterfall. Jesus came and died to make it possible. The Father’s waterfall carries no negative pollutants; it always brings forgiveness, always drives away hurt. It always renews, always washes away the old, it is always fresh, always new, always clean, always pure. It is the Father’s waterfall that drives the dynamo of His power on the Earth. When we stand beneath it we cannot hold onto pain and disappointment, but letting go we can let the water come, and in our own situations we can be like Jesus, “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” (1 Peter 2:23)
“Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17), and so the greatest and most perfect gift of all, the love of God, must also come down from above. It can’t return from where the waterfall has already passed. If we look to any other source to meet our deepest need we are looking for secondhand water.
“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life. |(Psalm 43:7-8)
Isaiah exhorts all who are thirsty to “Come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1). When we do, it is not just our thirst that is quenched, but the thirst of those around us as the Lord commands His lovingkindness with the water that pours out of the pool of our hearts. If we will stand in the Father’s waterfall we will see the glory of the mountains made manifest, not just the flower of the grass.