By Pastor Jim Jackson, Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church.
The six bright, yellow chrysanthemums we planted on the border of our flower bed have been embraced by the inevitable of all living things—certain decline. A few weeks ago when the plants were shining like bright, full moons, I thought we might stand a chance for “yard of the month.” No longer. First they turned a toast brown: but now they are smut black. But guess what?
All the yellow in our flower bed has not vanished.
We’ve got dandelions with yellow flowers like their former bed mates. Where did they come from? We didn’t plant them—even a bit embarrassed by their uninvited, un-nurtured, and unwatered, smiling faces. There they are mockingly staring back at us, triumphant over the changing season. Unfortunately we humans seldom are affectionate toward dandelions.
They emerge seemingly at will, wherever and whenever they choose. And that may just be the problem we have with dandelions—our impotence in the face of their seemingly omnipotence.
Some wag once remarked: “Since we cannot rid ourselves of dandelions, we best learn to love them.” Strange as it may seem, dandelions remind me of God’s unpredictable and uncontrolled grace. God’s grace pops up in some of the most desolate of lives and circumstances. We didn’t initiate it, rather it was well planted in God’s creation long, long ago. Grace refuses to be contained by our stupid, sinful prejudices. Grace mocks our feeble attempts to earn our place in God’s earthly garden. Grace is a reproach to all those “elder brother” types, seeking to earn God’s unmerited favor.
Grace throws a party on behalf of the repentant, prodigal returned home.
Grace made it possible for the shamed Apostle Peter to “stand up” and preach the gospel on the Day of Pentecost. Who would have ever guessed that a slave trader would some day repent and compose the words to “Amazing Grace”?
Dandelions! For goodness sake—let ‘em live. All our feeble efforts can’t send them away for good. Right now when leaves cover the frosted grass, right now when maples stand as naked symbols of change, claim the perennial presence of God’s grace, seen in the face of those little, yellow faces of dandelions.
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul experienced it and shared it without caution.