A number of years ago I volunteered for an organization called Stray Rescue of St. Louis. They are a non-kill animal shelter located in the city. When I say I volunteered, the truth is, Allison volunteered, and I wanted to spend time with her so off I went to walk dogs. At the time there were two locations that the organization operated. Allison and I went to the all-volunteer run branch in Lafayette Square.
Now it is a little misleading if I only say it was in Lafayette Square, which is full of beautiful large homes. The shelter was located in what at one time must have been a garage on the edge of a cobblestone alley behind a parking lot. On the other side of the alley were the commercial dumpsters for a trendy restaurant and bar located nearby. This was not the stained-glass windows and manicured landscaping of nearby streets. No, this was the ugly side of the coin, dirty and sometimes trash littered. The shelter, there before the neighborhood rebounded, a remanent of the past and best ignored by the now wealthy neighbors.
It is true that there was probably a bag of poo by the door from someone returning with a dog; there may have been trash from the overflowing dumpster blowing in the wind. I certainly seem to remember needing to call the dogs away from all manner of items during the walk. However, one thing that will always stick with me was the morning one spring day when I approached the shelter, I noticed a flash of color. It drew my eye just as a reflection of light catches our attention. There growing out of the dirt and gravel between two cobblestones was a beautiful purple flower. A glimpse of majesty amidst the rubble.
What a blessing! Just as Jeff Goldblum said in the first Jurassic Park movie, “Life finds a way.” Against all odds and facing a daily struggle that little plant not only grew but bloomed into a thing of beauty. What a wonderful lesson God wrote upon my heart that day. We live in a world of struggle and heartache. Each day we are faced with temptations and hardships. We live in a world run rampant with sin, misery and evil. It is easy to look around and see the trash. But as a Christian I live by faith. I know that through my Savior Christ Jesus there is life in death. I was reminded that day that even though the world may often be an ugly place, there is still beauty amongst the trash and life thriving in the middle of the struggle. Though we may have a sin problem in our world God always preserves a remnant. I am reminded to see and magnify the remnant, to focus on the beauty and not the blight.
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things
are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue,
and if there is anything praise-worthy — meditate on these things.
I cannot ignore the wrong in the world, but I pray that I am able to continue to see the amazing beauty that is God in the world around me. I want to focus on the good and do my part to magnify God’s truth. I take comfort in the guidance of God through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 40:31, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. It is with God’s strength and guidance that I push back against the forces of sin. By seeking and seeing the beauty of God in the world around me I have the faith to know that the path I walk is true and the strength to fight against the principalities and powers of evil and sin that constantly try to overwhelm me. In the beauty of a wild purple flower God reminds me, even surrounded by death, life finds a way.