Secret Glory

I’ve been marveling at my azalea bushes the last couple of weeks. As I type this, I can see the row of flowers out my window and it is hard for me to look away from them to focus on my screen. They are in full bloom at the moment and I’ve decided that the pink in my backyard is the most magnificent pink that has ever been imagined. It’s fascinating to think about, because non-blooming every day azalea bushes are one of the least exciting-looking shrubs. Even the word “shrub” leaves much to be desired. But blooming azaleas! They inspire towns to throw festivals and celebrate when these blah-bushes explode their otherworldly colors into our spring days.

At the moment, my eyes are greedy to take in as much of the wild fuchsia color for as long as I can. Not long from now, all that color will be gone, and the secret glory of the azalea bush will disappear for an entire year. I’ll look out my window at the green as it blends into the landscape and I will long for the pink.

Azaleas cause me to turn my face to the Maker of these flowers. He is incredible, really. Giving us this snapshot of color that human hands can’t produce on our own. I wonder, where does the color go in the long months in between its debut? Does he store it in undetectable veins of the root system, heating it in the hot summer months? Does he freeze it deep underground in the hard winter, hibernating, the shrub stripped and vulnerable, not a glimpse of the glory that will be seen? And then, NOW! He calls it awake to hurl itself into the skin of those buttery soft leaves and we have festivals and parades to celebrate.

As believers saved by Jesus, we have a secret Glory within us, the Spirit of the one who spins that color wheel and flings it into sight. That Glory goes everywhere we go – it lives inside of our marriages, our homes, our families.

As I think back to the recent weeks in our “Kindred” series, I wondered about the various life cycles that the marriages in our body represent. We know that all creation is groaning as it waits for Christ to return, and so our marriages too will groan. My thoughts wandered back to the azalea bushes.

For most couples, marriage begins with a burst of celebration, a gathering, a flurry of life and color and blooms. But eventually, the leaves begin to fray around the edges, wilt a little, then the color fades and the common days begin. Some feel wedged into the blah — in the mundane moments where wistful thoughts of colorful days gone by leave them discouraged and droopy. Some feel lonely, baffled that this is where they have been planted — not feeling the promise of Glory, or even the presence. But, the azalea bears witness and proclaims to us the glory of God as seen in our marriages. In the hot seasons of drought, as we stand parched and dry and pant for water, the Lord brings it in the dew of his Word, sustaining us until the rain comes. In the deluge of storms when we are battered and windblown, still we stay in the ground, the Glory anchoring us, the weight of Him holding fast, doing a work beneath the surface where we can’t see. When the cold snap comes, and our branches feel brittle and bare and we don’t even look alive, he whispers his reminder that his purpose is for us to live. And live we shall. Husbands and wives, receive the water of the Word, hold fast to the anchor of the Holy Spirit, persevere and have hope! The color is not dead, the bloom is not gone forever, but hidden until the time for it to be revealed. May we join in with the chorus of creation, fulfilling the purpose of our Maker, filled with the Glory of his Spirit, waiting for the return of the Son.

Behold, He is coming soon! On that day when we see our Lord face to face, the colors will never fade, the bloom will never wither, the celebration will be for all eternity. Until then, Happy Spring, CBC, may we lift our eyes to our Maker!

Would you pray this week for the marriages in our local body?