So, the colors are rather muted up here. My daffodils are popping up and giving me a splash of yellow. But one wee splash of color outdoes them all--the arrival of a goldfinch.
The gray skies, the leafless trees, the dried dead grasses that cling to a cold soil...and then magic! A goldfinch comes to my feeders...a drop of sunshine in the Russian olive tree outside my kitchen window.
I am delighted that he has arrived and he is delighted that a lunch awaits him. I stare out the window and he has no fear, just an earnest desire to eat what he can to stay warm.
I thought he is so representative of how we can be a drop of sunshine to a cold world that awaits the spring. Look at Galatians 5:22-23:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Think about it: everything the Spirit wants to grow in our lives is in direct opposition to what the world offers. The love the world offers has strings--you do for me and I might do for you. Love really boils down to: if you are meeting my needs--if I don't feel love or you are not pleasing me, my love for you grows cold. Not so with the love from His Spirit: we love because He loves us and knowing how unworthy we are of His love, we are humbled. We are loved, so we can take our full cup and offer some of what is running over to someone whose cup is empty.
Joy. Wow--the world says that joy comes from stuff--bigger houses, better jobs, nicer cars...and once we have what we thought would bring us joy, we find we need more. The joy God gives is not based on external gratification, but on the knowledge that He has us in His hands. A favorite quote is "I may not know what the futures holds, but I know Who holds the future."
Peace. No surprise there--with the world motivated by self, it's little wonder that peace is elusive here. Jesus gives us a peace based on Himself--He love and provision for us. The world giveth and loves to taketh away. Not so with God--He loves us and always has our best in mind.
Forbearance. "Hurry up!" screams the world. With a toddler-like mentality, we want it now, yet beg others to be patient with us. God's love is long-suffering. He watches and waits. He suffers with our griefs and pain.
If just for one day, everyone on planet Earth practiced goodness (thinking of others), kindness (treating others as we like to be treated), gentleness (treating each other with tenderness), and faithfulness (standing by through thick and thin), what a day that would be! A little like heaven, don't you think?
Self-control. Road rage, war, violence, hatred, hurt...if we lay down arms, and trust the One Who stands by us to stand for us, then we can act graciously, knowing He will bring all things to right some day.
If we are growing in His Spirit and seeking His fruit to hang from our branches, think of the beauty we can bring to others. Notice, however, one thing about our finch--he is not yet in full spring plumage. He still has sploshes of white and gray in his yellow feathers. He's not perfect, yet in the gray world of late winter, his yellow with all its imperfections is still beautiful.
No, we aren't perfect yet...we certainly won't be perfect this side of heaven. But think of it--in a gray world, still laboring under the deceitfulness of sin, even a wee splash of yellow to a weary soul is delightful. You don't have to be perfect to show Jesus' love.